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How to Get Rid of Pesky Telemarketers of the Future

Cindy Maples in The Telemarketer.

One of my favorite short stories is called The Telemarketer. Inspired by those hard-working men and women in call centers throughout the world, the story envisions what telemarketing will be like in the future. Instead of using a telephone, why not use a teleporter? Why not beam directly into someone’s house and show, rather than tell, what you’re selling?

Think of the potential for sales!

Think of the potential for trouble!

The wonderful, beautiful, and incredibly talented Cindy Maples fell in love with this story. She championed the production of a short film that made the rounds in a few independent film tests. Thus, one of my favorite short stories became one of my favorite short films.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Telemarketer, starring Cindy Maples.

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Scary Movies I Made With My Kid

During the 2020 Summer of Covid, my son Sam and I started a weekly tradition. We’d go out every Saturday morning to have breakfast and play tennis. We still have breakfast every Saturday, but in deference to our being artsy types and not athletes, we no longer play tennis. The rackets are still in my car should we ever get the urge, but it’s been a good while. And it’s winter now, so…

Sorry, I digress.

One morning over a round of badly played tennis, we started spitballing ideas for short horror films. Not the kind you normally see at film fest, mind you, but the kind you’d see if people on horror films had something called Common Sense. You know. Common Sense ¬†tells you not to open doors that say, “Keep out.” Common Sense says, “Don’t hunt vampires during the day.” Common Sense says, “Run out the front door, not upstairs where there’s no escape.”

We had six or seven ideas by the time we left the courts that day. In the coming weeks, we ended up with fifteen. I started reaching out to actors on Facebook, asking folks to film themselves and send us footage. (Covid, remember?) We cut them together on my trusty ol’ MacBook, the one with iMovie HD because I still to this day refuse to learn the newer versions. (It’s just easier, okay?) And we released them one at a time on YouTube.

The World’s Shortest Horror Films is a fifteen part series featuring the talents of many old friends and new. I made a lot of short films in my day, but few make me prouder. I mean, I made them with my kid. We wrote them. We cut them together. We even appear in one. Well, I appear in it; you can hear his voice. (Spoiler alert, I am not opening that door!)

Sam and I went our separate ways creatively after Covid. I’m back to writing, and he’s in a killer school of rock band called Abstract Agenda. He plays keyboard, bass, guitar, and saxophone. As a matter of fact, I was in quarantine with Covid the day he brought home a saxophone for the first time in July. He went from the usual beginner squeaks and squawks to accurately playing the opening solo from “Careless Whisper” in less than two hours. Kinda makes you sick!

Maybe one day we’ll collaborate on another short. Until then, I’m proud of the one series we assembled together.

You can watch the whole series, all 15 short films, in the video below. It’s only an eight minute commitment, so give it a whirl, will you?