"A" My Name Is

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: Narrative Short
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Completed


A young girl with early stage cancer has a late-night adventure that culminates in the realization of her mortality. 


A young girl with early stage cancer has a late-night adventure that culminates in the realization of her mortality. 


I used to play the game “A” My Name is with childhood friends at bedtime. In the dark, in hushed voices so our parents wouldn’t hear, we would take turns going through the alphabet: “‘A’ my name is Alice, my husband’s name is Andrew, we live in Alabama, and we sell apples.” Our minds would drift to foreign people, places and things until we eventually drifted to sleep.?

Imaginary play is a critical tool that children use to help them develop a greater understanding of the world and their place in it. Scout Finch, the main character in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was an inspiration for the lead girl in my film, Grace. The way Lee took the complex issue of race and presented it through the eyes of a child helped make the topic accessible and honest. I chose to tackle death for two reasons. First, I watched my father battle and ultimately die from cancer when I was in high school; the subject is something I feel emotionally knowledgeable about. And second, I don't think death is talked about enough in the western world. People treat it as an option rather than an inevitability. By glancing at death through a sick child's eyes, I hope to open up the conversation.


We filmed in my hometown of Buffalo, NY in early December 2017 on the unused fourth floor of DeGraff Memorial Hospital. Our cinematographer Lara Aqel shot on an ARRI Alexa system with spherical cinema lenses. The footage has a natural, softer, more muted pallet, similar to the look of Destin Daniel Cretton’s film, “Short Term 12.”

In preparation I have assisted on two other short film projects, including the IFP-fiscally sponsored “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” directed by Karen Allen. I found the process fascinating as I collaborated in making the pieces of the ever-shifting puzzle fit. I have also traveled to several cancer units in pediatric hospitals. I assumed these visits would be depressing. And although it was sad to see the state of these children, I often found myself forgetting how ill they actually were. They told jokes, expressed aggravations over school, played games with each other and argued over toys. They were just normal kids. This innocence is the core essence I want to capture in my film, an innocence that gently tips into awareness.


Sarah T. Schwab - Screenwriter/Director
Sarah T. Schwab (Screenwriter/Director) - A native of Western New York, Sarah is a playwright, screenwriter and director. She is a member of the Playwrights/Directors Unit at Actors Studio. Her full-length play, Until Death, will be part of Cherry Lane’s Tongues Reading Series on January 10, 2016 with actors Karen Allen and Jeffrey DeMunn, and director Larry Moss. In 2013, she was accepted to Sewanee Writers’ Conference where she was mentored by award-winning novelist/screenwriter Diane Johnson. Her work has been published in Tin House, the Evergreen Review, Writer’s Digest Magazine, The Buffalo News, and on websites NBC, Nerve, Jezebel, and The Buffalo Spree.

Brian Long - Producer
Brian Long is a film and theater producer as well as an artist manager. His films include A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. directed by Karen Allen, Brown Fish, directed by Troy Deutsch and the upcoming films A My Name Is, Life After You and Hamlet In Bed. Brian served as the Managing Director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, an Obie-Award winning producer of Off-Broadway Plays for nine years. During his tenure, Rattlestick produced over 40 World Premieres by some of our nation’s most important playwrights, including Annie Baker, Sam Hunter, Jesse Eisenberg, Jose Rivera, Adam Rapp, Craig Lucas and many others.


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