Experience the monochromatic life of a gentleman puppet as he navigates office furniture, elevators and a burning childhood all confined within a maze of floors in a bottomless skyscraper. Like a vertical timeline, each floor represents a different point in his life. With the aid of an off-kilter elevator operator, he journeys though his existence with the horrors of his past following closely behind.
Citadel was an organic experience for me. It was my next logical step. My previous attempts at short films were often comical and odd, but lacked substance because their themes and stories weren’t personal. With Citadel, I dove deep into my psyche. I reinterpreted events from my own life in an abstract and fantastical way. It helped me deal with things and added another layer to the film.
The puppets were designed by me. I photographed the faces of my friends and myself, manipulated them in the computer, and placed them onto cardboard skulls and bodies. During filming, they were all controlled by me, one at a time. The dialog scenes between multiple puppets had to be precisely choreographed to prevent them from talking over each other. A lot of trial and error was required to get things to work properly.
Filming generally took place between the hours of midnight and 4:00am. This was so no one could hear me swearing at the puppets when their jaws fell off or their heads drifted out of frame. A lot of “F” words were thrown around in those dark nights.
A handful of set pieces were built, but the majority of the locations were rendered in the computer. The opening shots of the puppet in his cubical were filmed on a set. As the film progresses, the reality fades and the artificial locations take over. In the final scene of the film, we are left with only a small pathway in the darkness.
The majority of the ambient noise was recorded in an old freight elevator. I wanted the sound of the elevators to act as the soundtrack to the film. They react and change with the mood of the characters like a film score.
The environment is without embellishment. The dialog is very plain and stilted to remove any sense of comfort from the characters. The puppet’s faces are grotesque and can’t emote. On the surface, the film is quite absurd, but every moment and every line plays its part.