The Diner: A Senior Thesis Film
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The Diner is a fifteen-minute short film, intended to be a pilot episode to a larger conceptualized series. It is a cross between a murder mystery and a mundane day-in-the-life story about an American diner and the people who work there. This pilot follows Howie, the owner, and his relationships with the people he works and lives with. Throughout this project, I learned about myself as a director and writer. I learned how I can feed my passion of space, perspective and the representation of “American culture” and explore them further while writing, directing, and editing this project. I was able to test new ideas and experiment with a basket of characters who are all different in their own, special way. I’ve become attached to the characters the production created and I hope to do more with them in the future. I wrote The Diner during the Summer of 2018 and heavily edited over the first few weeks of Fall 2018. Then was the hard part: convincing people to commit their time to help me make this film. I was lucky enough to get over ten students and local actors to join my cast and crew on a seven-day shoot over the months of October and November. This project would not have been possible without them. It’s important to highlight filmmaking’s collaborative nature; in filmmaking, recognizing other people’s hard work and being agreeable is half the job and leads to a set that runs efficiently and comfortably. The film was completed in May 2019. In addition to the completed film, I kept a production journal to follow the roses and thorns of this process and have completed an essay which elaborates on the academic and personal influences that helped shape The Diner. Because of my interest in space and the mise-en-scene, I wanted to challenge myself to make this film take place (almost) entirely within the diner and also create a believable diner atmosphere. My goal is for the diner to function as a character in the pilot and in the series as a whole, which I hope to continue to develop. Perspective is also something I’m interested in experimenting with in film and writing. We see a different diner worker’s perspective of a 36-hour time period in each of the episodes that follows the pilot. These 36 hours are between two moments in the pilot: Howie’s son’s birthday celebration and the second Howie discovers a dead body in the foyer of the diner. This story quickly changes from a day-in-the-life story of the diner to a riveting whodunnit all in the first episode and I look forward to continuing it in the future.