Watching Carlotta Summers and Gabriel Barreto’s Truth, Incorporated, I couldn’t help but feel that we’re not that far off from the events portrayed of their short film.
Truth, Incorporated features a band of heroes quietly guarding their underground headquarters. Each member appears tense and on the lookout for federal agents to come out of nowhere. The crew is hidden in Northern Los Angeles as our country has been overtaken by a totalitarian regime that has outlawed unsanctioned reporting of the truth.
Carlotta Summers plays reporter Jane Doe, who’s father was recently murdered by the government fronted news agency “Truth Inc.” Helping her and her hidden, make-shift news studio is the “Director” (Miles Lobo) and “First AD” (Charles Quda). During tonight’s broadcast, Jane offers encouragement to the underground movement and a glimpse into something beautiful. All goes well…until it doesn’t.
“…country has been overtaken by a totalitarian regime that has outlawed unsanctioned reporting of the truth.”
Truth, Incorporated feels incomplete. Watching the short, I could feel the tone of fear and anxiety for our future politically. The ending leads to a moment of truth when our protagonists are forced to make a tough choice.
What the film lacks is a reason to care about our heroes. It’s not enough to merely put them in danger. The murdered father is a good start, but what did he say or do that got him murdered? There are hints at the beginning of the film, but it wasn’t enough to paint a big enough picture. What is the point? Is the short about standing up for injustice, or is it a statement about freedom of the press. What is the moral dilemma? I got more about the background from the press notes than I did from the film, but the average audience won’t have access to the press notes.
I’m not asking for the film to necessarily take a hardline political position. Still, emerging storytellers need to immediately connect with their audiences in a powerful way to build empathy for your characters. The easy answer here is to provide more backstory. When sh!t goes down, then we have a vested interest in their survival or an emotional heartbreak when they fail. It’s the key to creating compelling drama.
"…I could feel the tone of fear and anxiety for our future politically."