Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Liberal Studies


Owen F. Smith

Second Committee Member

Laura Lindenfeld Sher

Third Committee Member

D. Alan Stubbs


Originally envisioned as a flip comedy based on a joke about a man with a "thinking problem", the script for this project transformed over time into something darker, something that reflected the inherent doom of a meaningless existence. The developmental process of this work lasted for years, and the piece went through several iterations before arriving at its present form. It evolved into a short film that serves as a warning to those who might be tempted to pursue a career choice that condemns one to a meaningless, mundane and punishing existence. The resulting piece, "A Cautionary Tale", comments on the trappings of today's modern working world at the same time that it offers the audience the opportunity for moments of introspection and thought. Far from a traditional narrative short film, the piece is more like a painting that slowly unfolds before the viewer. There is a story, a definitive narrative, behind the piece, but it is presented in a way so that it is up to the viewer to decide for themselves what that story might be. The creative process for this project involved establishing rules for all the stages of production. This was done with the intention of creating new opportunities for exploring the media and methods involved in video production, and helped to create clear divisions between the roles of writer, director, cinematographer and editor. The personas necessary for each of the jobs involved required discrete separation not only from each other, but from the preexisting knowledge of the patterns and structures involved in a standardized and formal creative process. The resulting narrative, a short film, is designed to captivate the audience, presenting the viewers with something that entrances them visually, in the moment. Additionally, the short delivers a subtle narrative that is intended to stay with the viewer after they have left, a narrative that keeps them thinking well after they return to the light of day. Open narratives have the power of suggestion, and the viewer is expected to bring their own predilections to the screen. No two people have the same shared experiences, and therefore, no two viewers will have the same exact interpretation of anything that is before them. Where is the line drawn between the intent of the artist, what they have intended to communicate, and what is interpreted and seen by the viewer, based on their own intuition and consideration? What moves one person may have little to no impact on another. Perhaps an individual's thoughts are shallow, or maybe their thoughts are deep beyond anything that can be anticipated. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how many people have been reached. What matters is reaching one.