Feature, Drama, 1:27:50
"Meme masquerades as a common relationship drama, when in fact it presents a fascinating existential commentary that is perfectly tied up in a full circle approach"
A mysterious VHS tape sends a young woman on quest to discover its maker, but she finds herself instead.
Jennifer, an independent designer disappointed in her stalled relationship and career, discovers a surreal mashup videotape, labeled "Meme," among a friend's VHS collection. She goes in search of Meme's creator, tracking down people who appear on the tape to gain greater insight into what it is and why it exists. As she pursues the creator of the tape she takes greater control of other aspects of her life including her relationship, difficult clients, and a drinking problem that increasingly interferes with her life.
Writer-Director Sean Mannion
Sean Mannion is a writer/director/producer based out of Brooklyn, New York. Sean grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where he built his appreciation for film browsing the shelves of the local video rental stores. As founder of the 4MileCircus production company he has been creating narrative, surreal non-narrative, and documentary short form content for almost a decade. Meme is his first feature film project.
Key Cast & Crew
Sarah Schoofs - Jennifer. Past Credits include Gut, Phobia, and Ayla
Shivantha Wijesinha - Tommy. Past Credits include Like a Boss and Callback
Lauren A. Kennedy - Lesley. Past Credits include Summit, 1961, and Kelsey: The Series
Kitty Ostapowicz - Carrie. Past Credits include Time Signature and Happenstance
Chaz Cleveland - Kyle. Past Credits include Bring Us Your Women
Rory Lipede - Andrea. Past Credits include The Redemption Project and Cross Training
Tara Cioletti - Dr. Danielle Blackmore. Past Credits include Abel and Cain and Time Signature
Matthew Addison - Craig. Past Credits include Imagine I'm Beautiful, Sleepwalkers, and Time Signature
June Dare - Larraine. Past Credits include Brother's Keeper, Mosaic 33, and The Eighth Day
Alex Bone - Marcus. Past Credits include Abel and Cain and Devotion
Carolyn Maher - Producer. Past Credits include Trichster and Maybe Sunshine
Peter Westervelt - Cinematographer. Past Credits include Kelsey: The Series and About a Donkey
Screenings & Awards
The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival (World Premiere) - Awarded: Outstanding Narrative Feature
Meme began when I walked out of a screening of Harmony Korrine's Spring Breakers in early 2013. I was inspired not by the content of the film, but by it's form and what I saw as an interesting approach to reinforcing the drama of a film with nonlinear editing. It wasn't the first time I'd seen this approach, Soderbergh's The Limey had also struck me in this way years earlier.
This formal approach sat in the back of my mind for several days as other pieces began to fall into place. Much like Meme's protagonist, Jennifer, I began to assemble Meme from the pieces of my life. An outline for a sequel to Cronenberg's Videodrome I'd assembled just for fun, my experience meeting collectors of VHS tapes at a Halloween event just a few years earlier, the frustrations of being a freelancer, the bizarre dehumanizing behavior of corporate clients, struggles with self-medicating with alcohol, fringe science, viral ideas, and the tension between authorial intent and audience experience that had fascinated me through my Bachelor's Degree in literature.
What ultimately came together and slowly evolved through these influences and further influences is a film that embraces a chaotic view of experience and questions the value of authorial intent in favor of audience reaction and action.
Through the film Jennifer transforms from a woman shyly accepting her lot in life to one who in fits and starts stands up for herself and takes charge of the direction of her life. It is a film about relationships: relationships with our lovers, with our friends, with our employers, and our relationships with our ideas. It embraces these relationships as fluid and understands that even when they don't go as we'd prefer, they can still be positive.
The experience I'm trying to communicate in this film is that of a time when someone makes the choice to change their life. It is never as simple as deciding to make a change and it is never just one thing that changes when the choice is made. The experience is messy and it can be hard to figure out exactly when it started and sometimes even what the sequence of events was. It was my desire to capture this in the form of the film, reflecting what I'd experienced in the aforementioned Spring Breakers and The Limey. The film presents events not with a temporal progression but an emotional one. It is a film about making the messy choices that are necessary to change.
Extended version of the VHS horror homage film-within-a-film, Beneath the Black Moon: youtu.be/RXviruRvWZE
YouTube Playlist with Trailer, BTS, Promo Clips for Beneath the Black Moon, and 2 Commercials for (In-Story Brand) Wotan Lager in English, German, and Spanish: youtube.com/watch?v=49UdsZKK95k&list=PLpib2qTYjqcVxMk3nFgs_Gz4Qb-ZGQspm
High-Res Production Stills:
VHS hangout-small: showing a scene from the movie in which (from L to R) Kyle (played by Chaz Cleveland), Carrie (Kitty Ostapowicz), Jennifer (Sarah Schoofs), and Tommy (Shivantha Wijesinha) look through a collection of videotapes and Jennifer discovers the Meme tape for the first time. (Photo shot by Director of Photography Peter Westervelt)
Sarah with the Tape-Small: showing a scene from the movie where Jennifer (Sarah Schoofs) watches the Meme tape late at night. (Photo shot by Director of Photography Peter Westervelt)
Tape Foreground-Small: showing a scene from the movie where Jennifer (Sarah Schoofs) watches the Meme tape late at night. (Photo shot by Director of Photography Peter Westervelt)