The Making of Merciless, a review

The Making of Merciless

From the intro to the last page, Mr. Stumpf has written a masterful page-turner. By the intro, that details his personal hardships and becoming a successful screenwriter — from learning the harsh realities of Hollywood, to his eventually selling and optioning his screenplays — you become engaged. Then, the screenplay, drags you into the twisting, horror-filled story with masterfully placed brushstrokes of wit and macabre. There is play of colors and opposites – the black polo shirt and the white hatchback, the light of day and the dark woods – as well as multi dimensional characters – Patrick, the rookie cop with an interest in film, and Gage, the film director with the underlying narcissistic tendencies. It is like Blair Witch had an affair with every Scream-inspired slasher film from the 21st century — the Making of Merciless is an original “found footage” screenplay with witty comic dialogue, interrupted chronology, and maximum savagery.

You can purchase your copy of The Making of Merciless on Amazon: CLICK HERE

About the Author

Bryan Stumpf

Bryan Stumpf has been college professor of film studies in Seattle, a digital media specialist at the 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles, and is currently the CEO and owner of Stumpf Farm Productions, based in Northern New York State. He has won writing and directing awards for his short films, Annulment and Ghost Walks.

Originally posted July 2016


Here Lies Joe, a short film review

Short film writer/director Mark Battle has amassed a solid roster of award-winning projects, including Victim (Best Regional Film, SNOB Film Festival), The Janitor (Best Thriller, SNOB Film Festival), and The Convict (Best Short Drama, SNOB Film Festival). All of Battle’s films are under the banner of Sweven Films, a New England-based production company.  His most recent short film, Here Lies Joe, co-written with his good friend Pamela Conway, is in the same master class as his previous efforts.

Here Lies Joe is a story about former English teacher Joe Barnes who is struggling with severe depression. He meets Z, a beautiful, young woman at a suicides anonymous meeting.  The taciturn Barnes and anarchic Z bond over their mutual desire to shuffle off this mortal coil — but will their budding friendship be enough for both to consider second chances?

The film is stunningly well-shot with sepia tones drenching each frame. And Battle’s dynamic cinematography – with angles, patterns, and contrasting shapes filling the frame – gives you the feeling you’re thumbing through a graphic novel.

Dean Temple, a ruggedly handsome actor with graying hairs in his tousled mane and scraggy beard, plays Joe.  At the opening of the film, we meet Joe as he duct tapes a Shop-Vac hose from his car’s passenger-side window to his tailpipe. Temple perfectly embodies the character of Joe — depressed, apathetic, and lost. The beautiful Andi Morrow, clearly a star on the rise, plays Z.  When Z storms the suicides anonymous meeting, dressed like a Bohemian punk, you might be quick to write her off as a just another quirky millennial, but Morrow imbues Z with a depth that makes her genuine, raw, and wise beyond her years.

Like Shawn Christensen’s Oscar-winning short film, Curfew, which deals with similar subject matter, writers Battle and Conway inject humor and humanity into the darkness. I was so invested in the story, I wished I learned more about the characters. But, like Curfew, Here Lies Joe leaves you with the feeling that everything will be okay, and confident that Sweven Films will have a bright future.

Originally posted January 2016


You Don’t Need Money to Be Civilized

Today, as I stood behind the elementary school waiting for the Kindergarten teachers to emerge from the back door with our children, I passively listened to a young mother talking on her cell phone. She talked loudly, and with much drama, it was hard not to tune in on her conversation. And then…f-bombs started dropping. I quickly scanned the other parents waiting, but before I could register any disdain on the faces in the crowd, the door opened and the lines of Kindergarteners started filing outside.

I gathered my little one and walked away.

However, hours later, I was still bothered by the young mother and her f-bombs.

Am I a perfect parent? Hell, no! I sneak sweets and hide ice cream treats so I don’t have to share. I yell often. And, I spend too much time on my laptop when I should be making precious memories.

However, when I am in public, whether I am with my children or not, I am respectful, considerate, and mindful of others.

We live in a lower economic section of town. Our elementary is a Title 1 school. The neighborhood, proud and respectable, is poor. But, being poor is not an excuse for acting poorly. The two are not a compulsory cause and effect.

So, why did this woman think it was okay to stand outside an elementary school, in a crowd of parents and grandparents from our community, and obtrusively use inappropriate language?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know it doesn’t cost a thing to be a decent human being.

Originally posted January 2017