Mad Avenue

Mad Avenue

2015  :  8 mins 55 secs  :  IMDb

Moving into a new place, a woman discovers a box that forces her to make a wish with unintended consequences.

Cast Crew
Woman — Meghan Provenzano Writer, Director — John Johnson
Co-worker — Scott Johnson Camera — John Johnson
  Editor — Scott Johnson
  Sound — Scott Johnson
  Production Assistant — Nick Provenzano

This was another last minute film for us. John and I had an open weekend and were eager to film something. We had access to a good filming location and knew a couple of friends who were available. So he crafted a story in a few days and we purchased the supplies. Here’s the story.

A woman is moving into a new place. While hanging her clothes in the closet, she notices a small door that leads into the attic crawl space. It wasn’t open before. She ventures in and finds a small carved wooden box. She removes it and heads over to her bed for a closer look.

Inside is a horse statue and slip of paper with the word “Wish” written on it. Not thinking anything of it, she puts the items back in the box, closes the lid, and places it on the nightstand. She continues her unpacking and forgets the box, not realizing the evil force she has just released.

Later that night, she finds that sleep eludes her. She assumes it’s due to the unfamiliar surroundings and that her second night will be better. However, sleep does not come the second night either and she begins to have trouble focusing at work, driving home, and even watching television. Images begin flashing in her mind and she seems to develop a sore on her arm that others cannot see.

She takes sleeping medication on the third night, but it does not help. She cannot sleep and becomes worried. Looking around the room, she notices the horse statue sitting on top of the box on the nightstand. She knows that she put the horse in the box before closing the lid a few nights before.

Worried, she opens the box and sees the paper that is urging her to make a wish. Becoming desperate, she writes her wish on the paper, inserts it and the horse back into the box, and closes the lid.

She does not realize that this is the wish she is being driven to make by the evil force she unleashed.

Her final day sees her in a daze. She does not go to work, does not get dressed, does not answer her phone. She stares for a while at a dead animal in the garden in the backyard, not knowing if it’s real or a hallucination.

The sore on her arm is now swollen and oozing blood…she thinks. Driven to madness, she confronts the horse statue, standing once again on top of the box. She screams at it: What do you want from me???

Deciding to confront evil by forcing reality onto her hallucination, the woman grabs an electric saw from her garage and cuts off her arm where the angry wound flowed. She screams in agony and immediately realizes what she has done.

She knows she can no longer live between these two worlds. She grabs a gun, puts it in her mouth, and pulls the trigger. As the blood from the back of her head drips off the walls behind her, the scene fades to the paper that holds her wish…

Sleep!

This film was relaxing to shoot as there were only four of us and no deadlines. We were able to try some new tricks, like speeding up the clips to squeeze an entire night of sleep (or not) into just a few seconds, or using a homemade squib to simulate a gunshot to the head. We had a good time because there was no pressure. A great time to play around.

What we didn’t realize going into this shoot is that our beautiful lead, Meghan, has one acting flaw…she can’t scream! Meghan is the nicest, happiest person you will ever meet and has no innate ability to let loose a nice bellow, howl, or shriek. We tried coaxing it out of her many time, but ended up laughing through all the takes. In the end, we used the video, but laid down an electronic ghostly wail over her voice.

We now use a lot of pictures of her screaming face as a tribute to her valiant attempt to be fierce. (I wonder if this ability to scream will begin to develop now that she has children. Ha!)

The downside of this film, and our first experience with this, is that the story does not come across as planned. When we show the film to others, they generally look confused by the end. Were those hallucinations or did she really have a sore on her arm? Is she sleeping the whole time? What does the horse statue have to do with making a wish?

Clearly we did not get the response we wanted. We did hear that the film looked good and the effects were on point. But either the story is too nebulous to convey or we didn’t put in enough information for the audience to follow along. I’m leaning toward the latter.

It was a good learning experience. We have since been vigilant in making sure that what we capture on camera tells the story we want to share. This is difficult for us as many of our stories focus on concepts of good/evil and people’s psychological responses.

Well, on to the next one: As I Prey