V E N T
Suspense | Drama
When a troubled and reclusive divorcé discovers he can hear his upstairs neighbor's most intimate moments through the air vent, he uses what he records of her life - including the death of her boyfriend - as inspiration for a stage play his high school class will perform.
David, a troubled and reclusive divorcé, takes an unhealthy obsession towards his neighbor, Audrey, too far. Using poorly rigged recording equipment, David pries into Audrey's personal life, documenting her every phone conversation, daily routine, and most intimate moments.
Before being fired by his boss, Jim (whose lover is David’s ex-wife), David has one last chance to put on a play at the local high school with his students. With no ideas in mind, David turns to Lissy, his ex-wife and still sexual confidant, for advice, only to hear about her moving in with Jim.
Deciding that the best stories are those you know, David leaves and begins to use his neighbor's life as inspiration for his final play. With each second of audio captured, every frame of video documented, David continues his perverse attachment. All goes well until a late night run-in with Audrey's boyfriend, who turns up dead the next morning.
David is now tasked with helping Detective Ramsey, who discovers one of David’s surveillance cameras while illegally searching Audrey’s apartment. Ramsey uses David, and his stash of audio and video assets, to apprehend who he believes to be the true murderer: Audrey.
Stuck between an obsession he cannot control, a detective with a chip on his shoulder, and a boss who has discovered Lissy and David's continued toxic relationship, David has no choice but to continue his voyeuristic lifestyle until the curtains rise on his new play, with the entirety of his inspired cast sitting in the audience.
David Aman is angry, withheld, and unsure of the future. He's a high school drama teacher in his mid-30s who was just fired by Principal Jim Evans, his ex-wife's new lover. David is an intellectual who crosses the line early (secretly recording his young neighbor Audrey's every intimate moment) while writing a new play, and continues down the rabbit hole of voyeurism until he finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation.
The femme fatale of our tale. Audrey is young and beautiful. She's the girl-next-door -- literally and figuratively. Much of her past in unknown, but thanks to David's audio and video capabilities, much is known of her present, and that of her boyfriend Ross's untimely death. Is she the sweet girl David envisions her to be while adapting her every day for his new play, or is she much more than that?
You know the type. Older, hardened detective who has seen it all, and isn't surprised by much. That is until he gets to know about David and his extra-curricular activities. He's a good cop with a hunch there is more going on between Audrey and her boyfriend's sudden death. Ramsey isn't one to sit around and wait for the paperwork to clear before itching that scratch.
The dutiful wife who couldn't take any more. Lissy, mid-30s, had dreams for a life with David that never came to fruition, so she took her future in her own hands, leaving David for something more. But that doesn't stop her from an occasional fling in a pay-by-hour motel down the road. She's an ex that can't say goodbye, and a lover to a good man, who just so happens to be the Principal at David's school.
Principal Jim Evans, a decent man in his 40s, is stuck in the middle of a new lover and her ex-husband, David, who so happens to be one of the teachers cut for budgetary reasons. Jim is as polite as he can be, until he can't be any more. Smart, and not so blinded by love he can't tell something is going on, Jim does a little investigating of his own.
VISUAL STYLE | SHOT DESIGN
Vent is a voyeuristic and suspense filled film in the style Brian de Palma's Blow Out and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. One could not truly give Vent justice without taking into account the visual style and techniques used by these masters during the 70s and early 80s. Vent is nostalgic in story and style. The shot design, set design, color, and editing should all reflect this nostalgia.
The color palette is full of dark greens a blues, establishing a darker more melancholy story. Brighter, but still muted, colors appear in the classroom and other areas of warmth.
Though Vent would be best served with an original soundtrack to amplify the suspense and tension, a bluesy-jazz theme will serve the film's aesthetics best in the same way Bernard Herman's soundtrack worked for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.
Examples pages from Vent's Shot List.
I moved to Savannah, Georgia in 2008 to attend Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). My first apartment in Savannah was tiny, and the walls thin. So when tasked to write and direct a short for my first ever film class, I used my real life situation and wrote about a man who could hear his neighbors every move, every word, and every indiscreet situation.
The short got me an A in the class, and an idea for a feature length piece. I wanted to expand upon the idea of David and his fascination with Audrey. Why did this man set up the audio equipment in the first place? If given enough rope, would he hang himself with it? I dug into David and his marriage, as I was married at the time and found myself wanting to talk about the complexities of it. It turned out David was a high school teacher. I myself studied Education during my undergrad, as I wanted to be a teacher for quite sometime. I used these elements to help establish his intentions and rationality behind the voyeurism, and began to understand him more, even to the point of maybe listening a little too hard when my neighbors' voices came through my own walls. The script also got me an A, and then sat on my hard drive while I finished my masters degree.
I moved to Austin, Texas after graduating, and begin producing and directing documentaries before my own divorce came. While licking my wounds, I escaped my new reality by consuming the movies I once loved. Classic cinema was my comfort food, and turns out a much needed inspirational kick in the ass.
Blow Out -- a film I had never seen before, from a director I always adored -- woke me up creatively in away I have not experienced since my time at SCAD. I saw Vent in my mind's eyes like I've never seen it before. Holy shit, I thought, this is Vent. Not in story or characters, but in style and presentation, this was the way my script was meant to be filmed. I pulled up my export of Vent and gave it another read. I could now see this film the way it was meant to be treated.
Documentaries are a way for me to tell stories I feel need to be told. But while producing these real-life stories, I neglected the stories in my head, and on the pages I've written. I have now experienced more of the things David went through in his journey, and am a better filmmaker for it. Vent is without a doubt, not only a love letter to Brian De Palma, but a much more personal story ready to be told.
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