Comic book movies are all the rage in Hollywood right now. In fact, not a day goes by where we’re not commenting on the latest Marvel movie development or pondering the direction of Batman vs. Superman.
But big studios aren’t the only ones with a lock on the superhero genre. Indie filmmakers are also getting in on the action, often with more intriguing results. Just look at Resignation, the new short film from filmmaker Joshua Caldwell (whose work we’ve featured on Screen Rant before).
In the film, Caldwell takes a hard look at conventional superhero mythology and turns it upside down, asking the question, “What happens when a hero decides to hang up his cape?” It’s an intriguing concept, and one that’s handled smartly with a strong script, nuanced performances, and a clever twist.
The film is best enjoyed with no more information than that, so please check it out below. After you’re done, come on back for a short interview with the director.
WATCH: ‘Resignation’ Short Film
SR: How did you come up with the idea for Resignation?
While collaborating on another project, producer Alex LeMay brought up the idea of shooting a 3-minute, VFX laden proof of concept short based on an original idea. We were both aware of the attention these kinds of shorts were getting and thought that we stood a chance of making something cool and unique. That said, I told him that the problem with an original idea was that you had to spend the time explaining what that idea was to your audience – in effect, you HAD to tell an origin story. With online attention spans getting shorter and shorter, I suggested we do something that was based on a character familiar to audiences – to bypass the explanation and get into the meat of whatever story it was we wanted to tell.
I pitched him the idea of a superhero who had had enough – turned in his cape – left it all behind. A superhero who had lost everything – his wife, his kids – because of his responsibility to mankind. And he was now wandering the earth trying to be a part of humanity, instead of separate from it, and find his place in the world. I believe it was Alex who suggested the idea that he should then be confronted with a situation in which he’d have to make a choice, to save a life with his powers or not.
Finally, the whole combat journalism angle came out of us both really loving the HBO Documentary series Witness and the idea of a person being in a position not to save a life but to snap a photograph of it and share it with the world. The struggle that must come from that – journalistic ethics, not being a part of the story – and it felt like the perfect surface level narrative to help deflect from our eventual twist, so that in the end you realize that Clark is not just talking about journalism, he’s talking about being a superhero and playing god.
SR: The reveal of the main character’s super powers is a bit of a twist. Why focus on a superhero as the basis for the film?
Personally, I think superheroes can serve to reflect back on our society. They are both who we are and who we want to be. With ‘Resignation’ I wanted to explore the character of a superhero in a way that I hadn’t seen before – at least in the movies. A complex, multi-layered, yet digestible portrait of a superhero struggling with the reality of our modern world.
What does a superhero look like in our reality? Do they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder? Drug abuse? Addiction? How are they different from our real heroes, soldiers, police, aid workers, combat journalists, putting their lives on the line everyday? Alex, Thomas and I talked a lot about that through the writing of the script.
One of the main reasons though, was the shorthand. Once the audience gets it, they get it. We don’t need to tell you who this guy is, where he’s coming from, what his childhood was like. We get it. As a result, we can just dive right in to the deeper and emotional themes we wanted to explore. That of journalistic ethics, the value of a life vs. a story, save one or a thousand, superheroism and heroism as a form of addiction, the struggles of humanity, life and death.
I love that Jon is basically telling Clark, “Look man, you can keep saving these people, over and over and over again. But at some point, they will die. No matter what you do. As humans, we’ve come to accept that, we’ve found a way to live with it – be it science, religion or what have you – we’re coping. And what you’re struggling to understand is how we do that. Because in your world, that doesn’t happen. People don’t die.” That to me was one of the more poignant themes of the story.
That’s where I get excited as a director – and framing this argument around a superhero felt like a really unique and interesting way to present it.
SR: Why was it important for you to create an immersive experience as part of this film?
It was one of the main reasons we wanted to do the short. Alex’s company, New Velocity Media, had been working on a media player called Multi-Pop that allowed for ancillary and immersive experiences within the player. We set out from the beginning to create more than just a short film – but a piece of content that could narratively utilize the features of the Multi-Pop player. In the end, this felt like a really great project to do that with (i.e. the photographs, DEA raid, etc).
In addition to that, I spent three years as the Director of Digital Media for Anthony E. Zuiker (creator of CSI:) much of which was trying to find new and and innovative ways to create and distribute content. It would have been easy to just throw this up on YouTube or Vimeo and hope it catches on. However, both Alex and I wanted to find a way to be different about it.
That said, we also didn’t want to overburden the audience, which can happen when you work with immersive storytelling. We didn’t want to distract from the short with a bunch of bells and whistles. Content is still king and you have to honor that. But we thought there could be this extra special layer beyond the short that might interest people.
As a storyteller, you’re always looking for tools that allow you to tell that story in the best way possible. We had a really awesome tool available with Multi-Pop and I wanted to find a way to take advantage of it and give audiences a taste of what it can do.
Tell us what you think of Resignation in the comments. If you liked it, let Josh know on Twitter at @Joshua_Caldwell.
Source: Resignation Superhero