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Deconstructing the Short Film: Cyn – A Twisted Tale

Next up in the Deconstructing the Short Film Series is the Short Film Cyn – A Twisted Tale. If you haven’t seen the other films in this series, Red Princess Blues and RPB: Genesis here a bit of info on this series. After many requests from the Indie Film Hustle Tribe, I’ve decided to release my short films on my Youtube Channel. They’re already available Amazon Prime on and in my course Filmmaking Hacks but YouTube is the Tribe’s request so I have conceded.

I realized that this could be a learn experience for not only you guys but for me as well. I have things I love and cringe in ALL the short films in this series. So instead of only posting the videos up, I decided to ask some tough and honest questions about why I made them in the first place. Did I achieve the goals I set out for the film? What would I do differently if given the chance? What lesson did I learn by making the films?

I try to tackle these questions in an honest, truthful and somewhat painful (for me) way. I hope you not only enjoy the films for the entertainment value but also learn from my mistakes.

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Here a bit about the short film:

Cyn is a twisted tale about Cynthia, a young woman who is taken by two psychopaths (Mr. Sugar and Otto) in the middle of the night to an old abandon kindergarten. Cyn quickly turns the tables on them soon the night becomes a cat and mouse mind game. While this drama is unfolding a lone figure watches from a close circuit monitor. Who is Cynthia and what the hell is going on in this twisted tale?

Cyn was created under unique circumstances. I was a finalist on the failed Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett filmmaker show On the Lot.

Fun trivia note, I was also a finalist on the second season of the infamous HBO filmmaking reality show Project Greenlight. If you look closely in the opening sequence you’ll see a bright eyed filmmaker who hadn’t been beaten down by the film biz yet = )

Watch the short film below and then let’s answer some questions:

What was the aim of the film?

I made Cyn for one main reason, to get on a reality show. I know, I know! I’m so glad I never made it on any of those shows. Cyn was a fun experiment. It was the first short I directed after my journeys with BROKEN. We had one week to write, cast, shot and post the entire short film. I gathered the troops and we were off.

What did the film achieve?

Even though I didn’t get selected to be on the show (thankfully) I was proud of what we pulled together so quickly. You can see hints of my main character in Red Princess Blues in Cyn.

Cyn had a running time of just about 3 minutes and a James Bond style end title sequence of the same length. The title sequence was created by my brother in arms Dan Cregan. I even make a cameo in the titles. Check it out:

The film was also accepted into over 100 film festivals around the world and was very well received by the critics. I also was selling an iTunes version back in 2007 before streaming was a thing. Again I must’ve been ahead of my time. I did make a few buck on the film but it now lives in the Filmmaking Hacks On-Line Film School. Overall I had a ball making it.

What would I’ve done differently?

I would’ve spent more time on story and production and not worry as much in attempting to impress people (Steven Speilberg), with the film. If you are true to yourself and the story you’re trying to tell then people we see that.

What lessons were learned?

  • Short running times gives you a better chance of getting into film festivals
  • Don’t try out for a reality show about filmmakers
  • Take more time with writing, casting, and production
  • When making a film, of any kind, don’t try to impress people, just tell your story

Next up is the short film that started me on my journey as a filmmaker and director, BROKEN. I’ll get into the weeds on this one because it’s the film I’ve learned the most from. See you then.

Filmmaking Resources:

If you liked: Deconstructing the Short Film: Cyn – A Twisted Tale 
Also check out: How to Make a Feature Film for $1000 with Mark Duplass

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