Experimental Short Film "Lucid" Paints a Uniquely Female Struggle In New York's 48 Hour Film Project

"LUCID" (2015)
Genre: Experimental / Drama
Length- 8:16
Company:  Butterfingers

Caryl (Marissa Carpio) is just one pretty woman at a club, but musician Hugh Lawson (Brian Walters) chooses to approach her.  And he's so charming and handsome!

Lucky her, right?

At first glance, this chance encounter looks like nothing more than a few compliments and a drink, but it soon becomes more than that.  So much more, in fact, that Caryl's consciousness flickers like a flame caught in a sudden wind.

Submerged in her own psyche, she finds herself face to face with her own past -- and the only way she's ever going to wake up is if she can figure out how to reunite all these disparate pieces of herself which meeting Hugh shattered.


"Lucid" is an experimental film created for the New York 2015 48 Hour Film Project.  These competitions always boggle my mind because, frankly, creating anything artistic on your own in that short of a timespan is an impressive feat.  Attempting to make a good film that quickly is almost impossible.

Chase Kuertz (who also played the role of Teacher's Assistant) directed and edited "Lucid" from Carpio's script.  They weave a surreal story about a troubled woman whose sense of identity is compromised by the overpowering figures of masculinity in her life -- whether they be her neglectful father (played by Cameron Sun), the aforementioned snobby Teacher's Assistant, the abuse of potential suitors, or the expectations of beauty standards.


The film's production was clearly limited by time and by budget -- some of the acting feels off, particularly with some of the opening's flirting.  I didn't entirely understand the meaning behind the math segment, and the Teacher's Assistant -- what was he trying to get across?  It was all a bit too cryptic for me.  Going for "the feel" of a scene over content is all well and good, but I couldn't make a connection there, and as a result it felt random and out of place.

We flash again and again from bit to bit, and without enough connective tissue to thread it all together, the effectiveness begins to dim a little.

It all still works, but . . . I felt like it could have hit harder.  I think with another polish on the script and some more time to work on how they were going to present some of this material visually, the film would have been stronger.


The film is a nonstop attack on Caryl, finally personified as a faceless stalker in the dark recesses of an apartment.  We flash from location to location and dream to dream, memory to memory -- or perhaps they aren't memories at all, perhaps it's all a dream journey within Caryl's mind.

But if that's true, then to which reality will she ultimately wake up?  And which one is the real nightmare?

It's uncertainties like these, and the ugly ambiguities that they present, that make "Lucid" a thinking person's film.  It's a fascinating dream-within-a-dream, and while the production was clearly rushed and yes, some elements of the production show their budget, the filmmakers' ambition and their desire to communicate something real more than makes up for any such shortcomings.


Writing: 3.5 / 5.  Carpio's script had surprising depth considering it was for a 48 Hour Film competition.
Directing: 3 / 5. Kuertz and Director of Photography Jon Reino put together a mature visual performance that framed the action.  I wasn't distracted from the events onscreen in a positive or negative way.
Editing: 3 / 5. Kuertz edited the film together with Carpio and it flows pretty well.  The opening feels a bit long, though.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Gabe de Verona recorded the audio, and Kuertz was responsible for the design.  The dialogue sounds great and the film has moody sound effects that help press the surreal elements nicely.  "Matter of Time" was actually written and performed by Walters -- I liked it!
Acting: 3.5  / 5.  Carpio is the most competent thespian on hand here and comes off authentically in character.  Walters is good for the most part, but there's a few lines that sounded flat.  Kuertz isn't particularly believable.  The rest of the cast is for the most part acceptable.

Final Grade: 3.4 / 5

Don't forget to check out the trailer for "Lucid" below and follow the creators on Facebook!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!