Patrick Phillips’ Broken and the Meaning of Success Image

No matter how small the crime, no job is ever simple and always full of complications. For director Patrick Phillips, making his crime thriller Broken (available now on all digital platforms) was far from simple and absolutely full of complications.

Broken tells the story of Brian (Griffin Cork), a guy delivering a suspicious package for some quick cash. On this particular night, he is caught in a small-time liquor store hold-up and injured. One fateful stop sends his life spinning out of control in a tale involving murder, betrayal, and a two-year FBI manhunt.

Like most filmmakers, Patrick Phillips got the initial idea for the film ten years ago and couldn’t let it go. It began with a philosophical question of the meaning of success and its relationship to class. In the case of the lead character Brian, he was born from a low-income single-mother family and wasn’t given the proper guidance to “succeed” in life. As a result, Brian turns to a life of drugs and petty crimes. What role does family play in children’s success, and since when was success only measured by wealth?

Philips came from similar beginnings, but his life took a different path. He says, “Coming from a low-income family, I was one of the lucky ones. My parents were determined to create ways for us to get out. They put us in sports, dance, music, everything they could find so we can find our strength and passion. My parents worked multiple jobs in order to move us into a neighborhood that we could flourish in, and we all did. But many in similar situations weren’t that lucky, and they were jailed or died before they could find their way out.”

“…locations got canceled, or the film crew was kicked out before they were able to complete the day…”

Thus began the long journey toward making Broken. The filmmaker first wrote the initial draft, which Keith Johnson and Laura Buckles then rewrote. But, of course, money is at the root of all stalled projects. Familiar to all indie filmmakers, funding promises kept coming in and then fell apart. So Philips ultimately decided to finance it himself by taking six months to shoot the film and raise the rest afterward.

Like the woes of the lead character, things rarely went according to plan. Phillips says, “Things began going awry almost as soon as the cameras rolled: locations got canceled, or the film crew was kicked out before they were able to complete the day; the film required snow, which melted just as filming started; the temperature also dropped below -30 degrees. The film then ran over budget, and it became evident that there wouldn’t be enough funds to pay the cast or crew.”

With the footage he had, Phillips could entice a few investors, but only under the condition of replacing the entire cast, rendering most of the work done so far useless. However, Phillips and producer Laura Buckles remained loyal to those who put in time and effort and honored the job already done. They rewrote the script to fit their financial constraints, added a day of shooting to connect the story, and yes, the cast and crew were paid for their work.”

Phillips said, “In film school, I was told about these stories and that it doesn’t really matter because, at the end of the day, it’s what up on the screen that matters.”

Broken is currently available on Video on Demand on every streaming platform.

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