Object of Affection


TYPE
: Narrative Short
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Production

LOGLINE

At his massive birthday party, a future Yale Law student pursues a fascinating freshman girl, but his innocent pursuit mutates into a savage ritual.

SYNOPSIS

At his massive 21st birthday party, Jonah is captivated by the fascinating Violet, 17. When he resolves to pursue her, the Crowd changes. They grow reverent of him, subservient to him, and initiate a surreal celebration. As Jonah fights through the Crowd, his innocent pursuit mutates into a savage ritual.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

The language and thought dealing with sexual assault often isolate men in power as subhuman monsters, outliers on the scatterplot where the rest of us exist in normalcy. While assaulters must be held accountable, most of us have failed to draw a connection between rape culture and our lives. What is the genesis of this culture? Where does power begin, and most importantly, who bestows it? When are we going to finally, painfully, look inward?

Object of Affection plants us at the start of a familiar story, ending in an act of violence wherein the man is left unscathed, while the woman, silently, must deal with her trauma. By manipulating this narrative structure, we are able to examine its underbelly. Thus, Object of Affection constructs a microcosm of rape culture expressed through a “rape ritual”: a birthday party that transforms into a surreal celebration that ultimately incites rape. By illustrating rape culture in a “hot house,” the film aims to implicate the Crowd and therefore the viewer. This intent is embodied during one of the film’s last moments, wherein Violet looks directly into the camera, and the Crowd stares back. After Violet leaves the house, another young man knocks at the door, suggesting that the ritual is cyclical. The film ends, but we are not let off the hook.

In order to create change, we must be made uncomfortable. We need to excavate the corruption of the man in order to unearth the reality of the system. It is the only way for us to grow.

My team and I have established a look that works from a baseline aesthetic and warps into the surreal. Our curated environment blends the look and feel of classic frat parties, modern art kids’ college houses, and a nightmarish edge. A graffitied mattress and sheets against the wall bear illustrations of aliens, pigs, and amoeba-like microorganisms. Limes and knives rest on wet countertops. Handmade Greek paddles display vile nicknames and made-up tikis, and harken to brotherhoods past. An entryway bears an elaborate solo-cup curtain. An American flag flaps occasionally at the bottom of the staircase. We’re shooting with 25mm and 35mm lenses in order to close in on our characters but sense the Crowd’s lurking, lingering energy, until their actions finally overcome both the story and the frame. Though shooting on digital, we’re pushing the ISO in order to achieve grainy texture throughout that resembles film and demonstrates the story’s allegorical nature. As the party descends into the surreal, increasingly thick soft filters will further emphasize the allegory. Our lighting choices progress from natural warm tones and flirty pinks, to violent mob red, to bleak, natural tones. Each stage of the transition from pink to red is matched with a tonal shift in the Crowd: for instance, the bloody red mirrors the mob “seeing red.” Once the Crowd turns on Jonah, the party ends, and the colors fade. The Crowd leers at him under stark white light, their blood and sweat ugly and well-defined.

KEY CREW

Marygrace Navarra - Writer/Director/Producer

Marygrace is a Philadelphia-based writer and filmmaker. She was a nominee for the 2018 Tribeca Film Institute/Sloan Institute Student Discovery Award for her pilot episode for Dora, a dramatic miniseries about Ida Bauer, Sigmund Freud’s most infamous patient. Her first short film, Lunar Maria, is in post-production, and the script was a Second Rounder in the 2019 Austin Film Festival Script Competition. In 2020, she was awarded the UFVA Carole Fielding Student Grant for her MFA thesis film, Object of Affection. She also writes fiction. Her short piece, "3:32 to Penn," appeared in the Fall 2018 print edition of Blue Earth Review. She is an MFA candidate in Film & Media Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where she concentrates in screenwriting. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Anastassia Anderson - Director of Photography

Anastassia is a Philadelphia-based director of photography. She received her BA in Film and Media Arts with a concentration in cinematography from Temple University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She pursues female-driven narratives, such as her senior thesis, Bracelet (2018), and Marygrace Navarra's forthcoming short film, Lunar Maria (2020). She has worked on a number of Philadelphia feature-length productions, including 21 Bridges, starring Chadwick Boseman, and Concrete Cowboys, starring Idris Elba.

Kaya Proctor - Producer

Kaya was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She received her BFA in Cinematography at Temple University, where she also minored in African American Studies. Her love for storytelling and desire to give voices to the underrepresented lead her to become the filmmaker she is today. Her filmography consists of music videos, short films, documentaries, and more recently, several web series. Kaya has recently worked on projects like HBO's Mare of Easttown, and Neighborhood Film Company's debut feature film, Concrete Cowboys, featuring Idris Elba, Jharrel Jerome, Method Man, and Caleb McLaughlin.

Paradox Pollack - Choreographer

Paradox has spent the last 20 years in the industry as a stuntman, actor, producer, director, cultural designer, and supervising movement choreographer. His extensive background in the performing arts created the foundation for his work as a fight choreographer and movement director for feature films. Paradox specializes in a variety of dance, combat, and motion-capture styles and techniques, and for the past 10 years has worked with both film-making veterans and upcoming young stars to build their on-screen movement and fighting styles. He has worked directly with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including actors Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, Robin Williams, Will Smith, Rene Russo, Chris Hemsworth, and Tom Hiddleston, directors Francis Lawrence, Steven Knight, JJ Abrams and Kenneth Branagh, as well as second-unit director Vic Armstrong. His films include “What Dreams May Come,” “Thor,” “Star Trek,” “I Am Legend,” and AppleTV’s “See.”

 

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ACCOLADES

-
IFP Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2020
-
Second Rounder, Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition
-
UFVA Carole Fielding Award

 

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