Following the death of her best friend, sixteen-year-old Sara is visited in her dreams by a woman bearing a terrifying message. Sara awakens one morning to find that her best friend, Jean, has been killed in a car crash. Weeks later, suffering from insomnia and survivor's guilt, Sara begins taking a powerful prescription sleep aid. However, the medication causes her to experience a series of vivid dreams in which she meets with Jean - only this version of Jean is middle-aged and insistent that she survived...and Sara perished. Initially, Sara doubts that the woman is Jean, but soon becomes convinced that she speaks the truth. This prompts a need for Sara to find proof in her waking world that her friend is actually visiting her in dreams and not merely a drug-induced hallucination. Sara spends the remainder of the film attempting to prove that somehow, somewhere, Jean is still alive. --- In late October 2019, my friend Shahab Zargari invited me to write the story for his fourth short film. The project as he pitched it, intended as a vehicle for his daughter Mahtab, was to be a coming-of-age tale of a teenage girl facing turmoil in her life, with the quasi-sci-fi element of an "alternate reality" or "safe space" where she could go to face (or simply contemplate) her problem away from the real world.
I felt up to the challenge, but my first attempt in early November resulted in a weak, flimsy treatment. Fortunately, soon after, I became inspired and took another stab at it.
The resulting story, Oh, The Guilt (named for the Nirvana track of the same name), was written in two creative bursts on the 18th and 20th of November 2019. Set in April and June 1994, it is about a girl who loses her best friend in a horrific late-night car accident. In the aftermath of the tragedy, she must contend with both insomnia and a condition known as "survivor's guilt" -- but the treatment comes with some unexpected side effects.
The talented Roudi Boroumand adapted the story into a slick, proper screenplay, and Shahab assembled a wonderful, enthusiastic cast and crew. Despite complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, shooting wrapped in September 2020, and the film will be in post-production through March 2021.
Cast & crew
Director: Shahab Zargari Story: Jackson Ellis Screenplay: Roudi Boroumand Stars: Mahtab Zargari, Savanah Joeckel, Sean Astin, Adriana Chavez, Gilda Graham, Heela Naqshband For complete cast and crew, visit Oh, The Guilt at IMDB