Although Shovel is a standalone short film, there is a back story. I started writing Shovel as a completely separate piece, unattached to anything I had done previously. But after working on it with my partner at Stoane Productions, I came to realize the characters in my short were the same characters that I’d been painting and writing about going back to 2006. I created a world and set of characters that existed in dozens of paintings and a novel. Here is a small taste of that world – though Shovel is meant to stand on it’s own two feet, alone. (Click image for larger view).
An Undeveloped Lot
William bought an empty lot in a colorful neighborhood, planning to build himself a house and a future. But he can’t. He’s afraid. Something is holding him back, but he doesn’t know what. He can’t move forward with his life, he can’t build anything of meaning in it, and he is haunted by a lost love.
William grew up in The Dale. It is eerily similar to the neighborhood where his lot stands. William is running around like a superhero, eyeing the cute pink-haired girl on the swingset.
Tree House (below left)
William and Anne spend time together in his tree house, far above the troubles below. The understand each other in ways that no one else does. They are happy and safe there together.
Tree House Falling (above right)
Terrible things happened to William and Anne, and she tried to find safety by changing her appearance. Gone was the bright pink hair of a magical childhood, replaced by a more mundane shade. She also changed her costume, replacing her lavendar skirt with the pink she lost above. William ran to her for comfort, but he just reminded her of the trauma. She pulled away from him, leaving him lost and alone. They make one last attempt to find each other again, in that magical tree house of their youth, but the world comes for them.
An Overdeveloped Lot
Years later, the world has stormed through and destroyed everything from their childhood. All that remains is William’s memory of his orange house, standing there like a ghost in a field of broken souls. Trees have been torn down and turned into crosses where the apparently happy have been sacrificed as a warning. It is as if the living dead have come out from their cookie cutter apartments, lining up to beg for jobs, fully aware that those who have gone before have been used up and hung out the window.
There is more to the story, but Shovel stands fully apart from it. Shovel takes place in this space, but in a different time. The characters in Shovel come from here. Some of them don’t remember any of it. Some of them have an inkling of a fuzzy memory of this place, like a dream that feels all to real.
All images copyright 2013 Steven Carpenter.