Following an article I spotted over at The Action Elite led me to the newest action packed shortfilm, Tears At Dawn, featuring actor Aaron Alexander who gets down and dirty as the lead who goes on a vengeful manhunt for the people who kidnapped his sister. After hitting this year’s film festival circuit in Los Angeles, Tears At Dawn is finally available online to view.
After two successful tours in the Middle East where he received training in the deadly hand-to-hand combat of Kali and Escrima, Force Recon Marine Corpsman Arthur Orange finds himself adjusting to the domestic life with his little sister Mya. When she sneaks out to get ice cream and is subsequently kidnapped, Arthur must venture out for a turbulent night of blood, sweat and tears to return her to safety. TEARS AT DAWN is a candy-colored thrill ride about one man’s quest to re-unite his family by any means necessary.
Tears At Dawn was originally written as a joke, born out of an academic assignment in my second year of graduate film school at University of Texas at Austin. I was tasked with pitching my graduate thesis film as our final project in a spring producing course. I was busy finishing work on my last film Housebreaking, a home invasion thriller, and all of my creativity was directed towards the project at hand. I had a wonderful experience directing my first genre film and I knew that I wanted to continue having fun making movies. I had this idea bubbling in my head about doing an action film about human trafficking, mainly because my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri was becoming an emerging hub for this kind of activity. The city was rapidly turning into a dark fantasia, like something out of David Simon’s The Wire; Single mothers sticking their babies in ovens, dead children showing up in shopping carts, just really horrible stuff. I worked in one of these inner city neighborhoods as an editor and a lot of what wound up in the initial treatment of the film was a composite of overheard sayings and people that surrounded me some 4 years ago.
So I set forth writing the treatment, a very in your face genre piece that somewhat went against the grain of normal academic filmmaking. It was liberating to write this way; I was so used to making movies within my means, that I think I lost touch with the imagination and creativity that attracted me to making movies. Over the summer the script was written, and revised, and revised again, until I had something I would be proud to make. It was a sprawling mess but the core remained intact from the first draft to the final produced film: A man must sets out in desperate circumstances to re-unite his family. Its a trope explored in many Hollywood films across genre, from The Searchers to Taken, but I had never seen it done with a brother/sister dynamic and I felt the need to explore it with my own aesthetic and moral sensibilities.
A major factor in my production anxieties was the killing of Trayvon Martin on the eve of production, which was a local story at the time. I had several conversations with my co-producer Deepak Chetty about altering my original plan based on the news of the day. Our lead wears a hoodie as his costume and, to be frank, goes on a rather violent rampage against many lighter skinned foes. I was worried an audience member might get the wrong idea about my intentions for the movie. Tears At Dawn is an exploration of good vs. evil, a storytelling framework that pre-dates the Bible. Our hero is acting upon his desire to protect and re-unite his family.