Before films like ‘Short Term 12,’ ‘Fort Bliss,’ and ‘Little Accidents’ captivated audiences on the big screen, they were screenplays showcased at the HamptonsFilm Screenwriters Lab. Now in its 20th year, the lab was created to highlight stories from up-and-coming filmmakers, and this year one of the featured scripts is Kristen Tan’s ‘Higher.’
A live reading of the screenplay took place early last week in NYC’s Lower East Side. A cast of talented actors took on ‘Higher’s’ central characters, including Tony Award winner Michael Aronov, and Micah Stock, star of the Netflix Original series ‘Bonding.’ Prior to the reading, Tan was on hand to speak about her inspiration for writing the story, and its unique structure.
“Higher is loosely based on my experience during Hurricane Sandy. I remember during that time I was kind of trapped in my apartment building and I was facing moment to moment things as they happened. I knew what was really interesting to me was New York City, even though it was the same place, was a completely different environment.”
Tan says that it was the unfamiliar version of New York that she saw in crisis that really struck her.
“It placed me in a surreal, excerpt place that I knew at one point I’d want to chronicle my experience of that.”
She says her script ‘Higher’ is “vastly different from [my own experience,” but rather a loosely inspired imagination of what could occur in a situation like Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s just about a group of residents who are stuck in a building during the time of this mysterious flood.”
“The story story kind of goes in this anthological short story form. We have five different short stories all touching on themes of morality. Basically what I’m very interested in examining is how people live in such a moment of high tension and crisis? What do you do when information is cut and power is cut yet you are stuck in there.”
Tan has received the Melissa Mathison Fund for her work on ‘Higher,’ which provides funding to women in order to further develop their screenplays.