FAR FROM ORDINARY
Cast: Dylan Goodwin, Ben Steinhoff
Crew: Producers: Finn Pfeffer, Paul Bugarin – Screenwriters: Paul Bugarin – Co-Producer: Dan Bricker – Director of Photography: Josh Echevarria – Editor: Nicolas Cuellar – Composer: Ian LeCheminant
David Thompson is an unassuming outsider who is about to embark on a big time project that will change his life forever. He updates his social media followers of his progress every step of the way. Meanwhile, his carefree and outgoing older brother Evan pays him a visit, and shows him the cold, empty realities of today’s high paced, technologically dependent world. Now faced with a deadline, does Dave have the will and resolve to go through with his plan, and finish his project?
Paul Bugarin is a Filipino American filmmaker and producer from NYC who originally hails from the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area. He got his start in the performance arts in high school, often performing and participating in his school’s plays, musicals, and cultural exhibitions. This in turn developed his keen passion for the arts, especially film. He went on to attend college at Virginia Tech where he earned a BS in Finance. He spent the next 5 years in the Finance and Accounting industry working for many top firms, developing his business craft and acumen. During that time, he was still feeling a strong pull towards film, and fulfilled that desire by producing many local party and nightclub videos. He even developed and produced a small local reality show “The Real FC” with some of his friends. However, this was not enough, so he decided to quit his corporate job and move to NYC to pursue his dream of becoming a filmmaker. He went on to attend The New York Film Academy where he wrote, directed, and produced his first short films “No Redemption” and “The Setup”. Following NYFA, he would spend the next few years working his way up the ladder in film production. He most recently worked for Kode Media as an associate producer working on their roster of projects, and still freelances, producing plenty of commercials and branded content in the NYC area. “Far From Ordinary” is his first professional film as a writer/director, and has many scripts ready for production, including a feature length version of the film. He is also currently producing his first feature film “Like Family”, scheduled to be completed in 2019.
The concept for Far From Ordinary came about nearly a decade ago, when I was still in film school at the New York Film Academy. Like many young and idealistic filmmakers in film school, I felt the need to create a film that took a long, hard, look at societal issues, and point out the things that I perceived troubling in today’s society through the power of film. I definitely wanted to take a stance and come out swinging with my first real film. During this period, my writing partner and I were battling episodes of depression, and found it fascinating how easy it was to get prescription medication, and how readily available the medication was, especially in the form of anti-depressants & SSRI’s . You could just walk into a doctor’s office, complain about a few symptoms, tell them of your emotions, and they would just write you a prescription. There was no real evaluation of the patient, no looking at their history or contributing environmental factors, no real dialogue about alternative solutions, just straight to the prescription pad and the pills. That’s when we decided that it would be a great idea to take a look at the state of mental health in our society, as well as the role that the medical profession & Big Pharma plays in all of it. That’s when the first iteration of the script was born. Following film school, the script took a back seat, as I entered the film industry, soaking up all the knowledge I could gain. I would study every facet of filmmaking I could, both on and off set, as I gained a whole new level of appreciation for the art of storytelling, especially from those whom had the most influence on me as a filmmaker. Directors like Quentin Tarrantino, Darron Aronofsky, and David Fincher helped shape my vision, and their films taught me that having your own unique style and voice is everything. This in turn, was a lesson I would go on to incorporate in my own storytelling, as I would try to brandish my own version of style for a purpose and substance. It was around this time that I met my current artist group collective and close family of friends – most of whom I met as a freelance journeyman in the film world of NYC. I had found my tribe. With their help, influence, and knowledge, I would go on to pick up my script again, try and execute my vision, and finally shoot the film, seven years in the making. As the years passed since the first iteration of the script, I realized that I would have to adapt my script to fit today’s modern style of living. New and emerging technologies were abundant, fast and instantaneous feedback was essential, and social media was king. Along with this new era of modern living came the promise of greater productivity, expanded interactions and connectivity, and a profound new understanding humanity. But at what cost? It was at this time, while I was on my way to a film shoot, riding on the good ol’ NYC transit, that I noticed everyone completely buried in their smart phones. It felt like something out of a zombie apocalypse movie, as I was navigating my way to work through a minefield of inattentive humans; heads down, plugged in, smart phone in hand. That’s when I began to see the true unintended consequences of all this information at our finger tips and being “connected”. The more connected we were, the more isolated in our own worlds we became. Technology is neither, inherently good or bad, but simply a tool, dependent on how it is used. However, as someone who grew up without the internet in their early years, I felt the need to raise the alarm bells about how social media and technology were changing our society, how it was affecting our behaviors and mood, and how it was vastly changing how we viewed and interacted with each other. That’s when I decided to reflect these thoughts in the script, and focus on the dangers of too much technology and social media. During this same time period, the country was (and still is) suffering from the current mass shooting epidemic we face today. It seemed like schools, offices, and cities were under siege from these stone cold killers, each of whom typically had the same modus operandi. We as a society, were having a hard time understanding why, as no place was completely safe from being a target. Having graduated from Virginia Tech in 2002, I watched the devastating effects that the 2007 campus shootings had on such a wonderful, tight knit community. I had nothing but the fondest memories of my college years there, as Blacksburg, VA was my home for 4+ years. But now, every time I would mention to someone that I had graduated from there, I would get a look of sympathy, grief and despair. We would now be known as the school that had the deadliest and most horrific college mass shootings in American history. It deeply saddened me, and shook me to my core. I wanted to understand what could drive a person to do such a horrific act. What was it in our society that was leading to such an un-empathetic view towards humanity? And why does it keep happening? That’s when I began to draw the parallels to our modern world, the state of mental health in our society, and the cold void of real human interaction that technology brings. Couple that with the government’s lack of a real response to the plague, and it seemed like were living in an endless loop of death, sadness, and inaction. That’s when I decided that my film would be a satirical portrayal of this endless loop, and represent my call to action to end the senseless violence. The script was completed, and principle photography began in 2017. Throughout the filmmaking process, I wanted to make sure that we were shedding light to these highly sensitive, controversial, hot button issues in a responsible manner; but I also wanted to make sure that we were being real about the subject matter, while taking risks without holding anything back. Each line, shot, and theme in the film was created and carefully crafted with this premise in mind. We wanted to raise awareness through a sense of reality, but also through a prism of satire, which in turn would lead to emotion and action by whomever was watching. As the process unfolded (and to our dismay) there would inevitably be a major mass shooting for every milestone accomplished in our film – from finishing the script (San Bernadino, CA), to the start of pre-production (Las Vegas, NV), to principle photography (Sutherland Springs, TX), to picture lock (Parkland, FL), and so on. Even after its completion, this endless loop still lives on. It is a sad sense of our reality, and life imitating art, but it gave us the fuel to keep going. We knew we on the right track, and had to put this film out there in the hopes of bringing awareness and action. I hope the take away that you get from the film is that even though these events keep happening on an ordinary basis, and the shooters themselves seem like ordinary people, the tragedy and despair left in the aftermath, along with our response of inaction is, Far From Ordinary. We must act.