from the mind of Rob Bowen
whatsabudget is my brainchild. my artistic voice visualized and focused through a cinematic narrative. it is my retreat from the world, and my attempts to make sense of it. an independent spirit naturally fit in the world of independent filmmaking.
in 2012, I began making short films as a means to explore and teach myself this potent and expressive medium. over 30 short films later (and growing), I continue to use this short form storytelling tool to hone and grow my voice as an indie filmmaker and artist.
On the heels of By the Blood being done, I was looking to start off 2019 with a new short film project that would keep along the dark track Blood laid down, but not in a horror way. This time I wanted to look at the human drama angle and weave a dark tale that looked at entertainment and how empty it can be and leave the viewer, even though it is meant as a means of escape. Along came an actor I met at a Peak Film Forum near the close of the year, and we talked about working on something together. So I penned this new short with him in mind, and collected together some of the usual suspects (several of the Blood alum returning once more) and Empty! was born.
Interestingly enough, Jo, the actor I mentioned, once he got the script and we were talking it over in our initial project meeting, asked if I had anyone specific in mind to play opposite his character as his family member and acts as his character’s motivation. When I explained that I had actually not defined that role because I wanted to leave that to him to determine who it was and in turn, what the stakes were for his character Adam. When he told me he wanted it to be Adam’s mom, because of things he had gone through with his own mother’s health, and asked if it could be her hand he was holding, I decided to go him one better. I expanded the role, giving her lines and more, and then we brought Jo’s real mom in to act the part. It meant a lot to them both, and though it was such a dark piece, gave it some light and heart that carried through the production.
Poor Ariel, who returned to this film after working on Blood, but who was suffering from a near broken arm from a fall she suffered just before shooting. One night the pain was so bad, and one of her costars was running late, so I had to shoot more single sides of just her than I had originally planned, just to let her go and not have to stay late in pain. Once I had expanded the role for Jo’s mom to play, that made me want to flip the roles for Ariel’s character, and make Tracy the mom and have her taking the risk for her daughter’s sake. It’s such a wonderfully dark tale and the relationships of the characters involved really add some punch to the piece overall. Perhaps in this twisted game of life, the selfish can become the selfless when the empty are led by desperation.
released last year
Our latest sequel short, (the new millennial Tramp in) Socks, is part of journey that started years ago. In 2016, with the help of an awesome group of Film Club officers, I helped lead the formation of a new film festival at UCCS, called the 14’ers. We would assign genres and a included narrative prompt that each team of filmmakers would have to sculpt a short 14 minute film around. With a draw of comedy and sub genre draw of silent, I was thrown into new waters where a character, based on one of the greats who paved the way, emerged. The new millennial Tramp was a loving homage to Chaplin’s own Tramp character who helped pioneer the silent era through Hollywood’s Golden Age, with a legacy that has lasted far beyond. While taking the quirkiness of the original and applying it mostly to the world in which our hero seems to struggle to make sense of and deal with, I found in this character a wonderful lens through which to look at this postmodern world. And in Socks, our latest Whatsabudget Films release, we have the return of this confused character thrown into a whole new situation to breed another comedy of error.
In this romantic comedy, our hero finds himself struggling with that age old issue of dryer versus sock. But is there something working below the surface to steer and guide our hero towards a new destiny and partner? Is this fate, or something more? Does it matter when the Tramp is involved? Find out in the new heartfelt comic exploration of the signs we are sent, when the universe takes a personal interest.
also from 2019
Film 2000 is an irreverent, referential dark comedy born of the class bearing the same name in the film program I graduated out of last Spring. From each of the films that comprised the sixteen weeks of the class’ syllabus was drawn some sort of inspiration to piece together this postmodern journey through J.T.’s cinematic memories via 8 1/2 fractured vignettes that point to a meaning just outside his grasp.
this short film was such a joy to make, not just because we were making art and pursuing our passions, but getting to work with this amazing collective of young filmmakers from the program, friends and fellow graduates alike, was beyond words. It came together over the summer after graduation, and was initially supposed to involve more folks, but due to scheduling and other time concerns/constraints they weren’t able to take part, or had to step down from the production. That aside, this film is reflective of the love we all hold for the program, and those behind it who gave us the opportunities to grow and learn through film. That love comes through frame by frame in this short film, or at least it does for me. I hope that it does for you too.
Rob is available for hire as a freelance editor, director, or writer. He is also available for other comments and inquiries, so hit him up below.
Colorado Springs, CO