A Story In 24 Frames by Omar Alvarado Chavez
In late August 2023, the team at 4381 Productions was met with a series of projects that the whole group would be creating separately over the next few months. The first one of these projects was to create a narrative film using only 24 still images with no sound, no dialogue, and no visual editing. Inspired by groundbreaking films like La Jetée, this project was meant to push our team to tell a story in the most minimal way possible. It was a wonderful exercise in maximizing your resources. Using what’s at our disposal, we began production.
I spent weeks trying to figure out what to do with these guidelines. I love complex characters and stories that take their time to immerse you in the plot, so this project was a big challenge for me. I came up with and scrapped multiple ideas. An Alice in Wonderland-inspired trippy fantasy short to a mini-horror filming, as I felt this format worked very well with that genre. For the film I created, I decided to go with a pretty simple story. All my ideas were too big, so I wanted to bring them back to the basics. Something I loved about filmmaking when I was younger, around 15 or 16, was the fact that I didn’t really think too hard about what I was making. Many of the stories I told weren’t this mind-bending piece of cinema. I wanted to go straight to the point, but with a heart, so I decided to tell a story about a missing cat.
Jacky Chao, my roommate and one of the actors in the film, owns a cat named Zero. Zero, as with all cats, is very curious and has escaped in the past, something Jacky and I are very afraid of since something could happen to him. While sitting one night brainstorming ideas, it just came to Let’s play off of this fear. Write about what you know. It’s simple, sweet, and a bit heartwarming. So on an early Saturday morning, we created a prop flyer and shot the film around our neighborhood. We had to be very careful with every shot to make sure everything made sense, and every emotion was appropriately conveyed.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project. I’m not floored by my final product, but it was a great exercise to stop overthinking stories and focus on creative visual storytelling, arguably the most important part of cinema.