NUNE has a history. It’s based on a graphic novel and feature-length screenplay called, RED AS BLUE. For the past year, I have gone through several illustrators to get the novel completed; it’s a work in progress so I proceeded to make the film short version.
The original story, RED AS BLUE, has a rich historical context and is actually a “period piece” set in the 1980s. It’s about a lonely girl coming out (of the closet) during the New Wave and punk rock movement. RED AS BLUE digs into the social-political times where gay kids had a much harder time than they do today. They were offspring of the 70s Stone Wall movement but also children of a sheltered society. Across the US landscape, Middle America had no diversity. It was a culturally parched world filled with deep loneliness for anyone who has ever felt different. But with the story, NUNE, there’s only so much you can explore in a short film format. I made it into a modern high school story that is relevant today as it was back in the 1980s.
Whereas RED AS BLUE is an allegory closer to the LORD OF THE FLIES, NUNE is a parable similar to THE UGLY DUCKLING. The “ugly duckling” is a universal theme about belonging in the world. On the surface, it appears to be about physical beauty, but it’s more about finding peace in your environment once your true self is embraced. This theme was not revealed to me until later in the casting process when I would audition pretty girls for the role of Nune Lusparian. I’d say to them, “You know, just because she’s an ugly girl to society—it doesn’t mean that she has to be physically ugly. That’s cheap. That’s too easy. It is much harder to show how a pretty girl is hated by society, not because she’s pretty, but because she’s different.”
Then, I’d say, “If you landed on another planet and everyone has three eyes and you had only two, they would hate on you and call you ugly. Then one day, you fell onto earth where everyone had two eyes and thinks you’re beautiful and accept you but you remembered that you were once ugly. How you change from that experience is that you realized what it’s like to be hated on, for being different. And what this does is, it gives you a greater capacity for compassion.”
People tend to forget that they have been ugly ducklings. They get very comfortable with their race, their class, their groups, their clubs, tribes and nations. They fight over how they are superior to others. They need to go to Mars or a place where people have three eyes.
What both NUNE and RED AS BLUE have in common is that they are stories about love—about how powerful the force of love is. In NUNE, it is the love between two very different people. In RED AS BLUE, it is about how two different girls fight a very difficult battle (in a “Romeo & Juliet” sense) and they do it in a very alone way: because no one seems to understand them. They face not only family and peer pressure: but an entire society that says their love is wrong. And what the heroine in RED AS BLUE does is she takes the pain and negativity and wrenches out all the creativity she has—to free herself, and to express herself in a beautiful way. But she can’t do it without love. Nothing can be done without love.