A Stacked Deck

In this House of Cards Adaptation, we meet Nathan Forrester, a cynical new student at Triton High School.

Upon his arrival, Nathan hears of the infamous school president, Chad Dillinger, a student with significant influence among the administration. Intrigued, Nathan decides to join ASB, his school's student body, and he gains the position of publicity coordinator, after switching the signs which indicated the interview times for the job.

However, Nathan is unsatisfied with his position as a 'poster boy,' and vows to move higher in the ranks. He begins to take down prominent members of the school's student body in the most outrageous of ways, with the help of the head journalist for the Triton Tribune, Victoria Sweeting.

However, when Sweeting threatens to expose Nathan's corruption events take an even darker turn.

  • Cameron Penn
    Director
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Austin Astorga
    Producer
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Jeff Brandmeyer
    Executive Producer
  • Adolfo Amaya
    Director of Photography
  • Austin Nguyen
    Writer
  • Cameron Penn
    Writer
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Ian Powell
    Assistant Director
  • Sean Maple
    Script Supervisor
  • Joseph Smith
    Camera Operator
  • Sean Maple
    Key Grip, Boom Operator
  • Austin Astorga
    Editor
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Adolfo Amaya
    Editor
  • Cameron Penn
    Actor
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Adolfo Amaya
    Actor
  • John Collison
    Actor
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Sean Maple
    Actor
  • Austin Astorga
    Actor
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Karinya Ghiara
    Actor
  • Mckenzie Fink
    Actor
  • Gary Maple
    Actor
  • Josh Porter
    Actor
  • Dale Hendricks
    Actor
  • Alex Ormioloye
    Actor
  • Arden Powell
    Actor
    A Forgotten Soul
  • Austin Nguyen
    Actor
  • Ethan Beretz
    Actor
  • Johnny Valverde
    Actor
  • Kevin Xia
    Actor
  • Samantha Avalos
    Actor
  • Sanjay Shetty
    Actor
  • Stephen Deen
    Actor
  • William Zheng
    Actor
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Drama, Adapatation
  • Runtime:
    21 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    100 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Carlsbad High School
  • Oceanside International Film Festival
    Oceanside, California
    United States
    August 11, 2015
    Audience Award: Best High School Film
Director Biography - Cameron Penn

A Stacked Deck is one of Cameron Penn's first films from High School. Today, Cameron Penn is a Writer, Director, and Producer with a passion for dark comedy and crime drama. His work has screened at several Oscar Qualifying Film Festivals, including Tribeca, HollyShorts, the Austin Film Festival, the Rhode Island Film Festival, and the St. Louis International Film Festival. Currently Penn is writing/ executive producing Sinaloa’s First Lady for Paramount Plus alongside Frida Torresblanco and John Leguizamo. He is also in development on his first documentary in collaboration with Oscar nominated producer Lee Magiday.

Penn began his first foray into the entertainment world as a magician, and quickly transitioned to theatre where he performed in and directed various plays and scenes at regional theatre competitions. In 2014, he was nominated for a National Youth Arts Award and in 2015 he won 1st place at the Drama Teachers’ Association of Southern California Shakespeare Festival. Past winners include Sally Field, Richard Dreyfuss, Jason Bateman, and Nicolas Cage.

At 21, Penn wrote and directed an indie pilot entitled ‘The Roommates,’ which stars Golden Globe Winner Barry Bostwick, Oscar Nominee Bruce Davison, and Martin Kove from Karate Kid and Cobra Kai. While making acclaimed projects, Penn has also worked for various film companies based in Los Angeles, including Legendary Pictures and Allison Shearmur Productions, the latter of which was involved in producing the Star Wars Franchise. In 2017, he graduated from Academy Gold, a mentorship program hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and in 2019 Penn graduated magna cum laude from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Most recently, Penn finished working on season 4 of the hit Freeform/ Hulu series, Good Trouble.

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Director Statement

This film serves as a House of Cards adaptation set in a high school’s Associative Student Body, its ASB. The purpose of this film is not so much to serve as a coy wink to House of Cards fans, but rather to function as a comedic critique of high school politics, a world lined with popularity fed prima donnas and mindless pretty boys.

To do this I was sure to coach the actors portraying ASB students to play their characters with a certain pompous air—encouraging them to have their characters only think of themselves and not others. This made it fun to watch the film’s protagonist, Nathan Forrester, take down the various ASB students in his rise to power.

One aspect from House of Cards, which I did seek to capture in this loosely based adaptation, was the relationship between Frank Underwood, a rising congressman, and Zoe Barnes, an ambitious journalist. The characters of Nathan Forrester and Victoria Sweeting resembled Underwood’s and Barnes’s relationship in that Forrester and Sweeting do help one another’s careers through the use of journalism, but ultimately try to destroy each other. This relationship also serves to make light of high school journalism’s tendency to only cover mundane and rather meaningless topics. After all, Sweeting’s stories about the rise of a student in her high school’s ASB, in reality have no effect on students’ day to day lives.

As a whole, A Stacked Deck over dramatizes high school politics and journalism in order to poke fun at it.