Since You’ve Been Ong
As a writer of this short film, created initially for the 4th Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout, I was partly responsible for crafting a story given this contest theme:
Elizabeth Ong is missing.
Elizabeth Ong’s absence is essential to your story.
Elizabeth Ong does not visually appear in your film.
Elizabeth Ong has a connection with characters in your film.
During the initial brainstorming session, our team realized that interpreting the theme negatively led us to think up overused dramatic clichés. Therefore we decided against depicting violence against women, because we did not have a meaningful reason for including it and did not want to risk being flippant. We also decided against readily disparaging Ong’s character by suggesting she was guilty of any number of vice crimes.
To find our story, we focused on the three friends Ong left behind. Each of their varying relationships with her influence how they describe the day spent without her. While their accounts conflict, cumulatively they establish her importance and increase the urgency of her return. In the end, we did not explain her absence. Instead of victimizing her with a forced disappearance, I like to think we empowered Ong to choose her absence, understandable given the poor quality of her friends!
I assumed the role of assistant editor in preparation for submitting to festivals. After reviewing and logging all the footage, I re-edited the film, tightening the narrative without altering its original intent.
Official website here