Experiencing Interruptions?

Segments of Jonah - episodes 1 & 2

Madness is a Cancer! And, a drastic new form of surgery is needed... "Segments of Jonah" is the story of a man fleeing from his calling into a tragic moment of the past. This 4-part series mirrors the Biblical story of Jonah in a surreal, sci-fi tale that delves into the effects of childhood abuse, prejudice, revenge, love, and faith, as Jonah escapes into a lost moment but must come to terms with the death of his sister before submitting to his calling.

In a strange room, tormented by guilt and fear... and the bitterness they give birth to, Jonah argues with a mysterious counselor and introduces questions to be answered throughout our story. Within this framework, besieged by memories, disturbing questions unfold concerning the essence of his pain… which all who have failed another must contend with. Can we protect the innocent? Can we recover from their loss? Who deserves redemption? Do stories really have the power to change a man's heart? What path lies ahead for the hurting… perpetual victimhood, sacrificial healer, or insatiable abuser?

'An Old Despair', episode 1 of the "Segments of Jonah" quadrilogy, makes use of various artistic styles and techniques, as Jonah's created worlds coalesce, resolving current plotlines and creating new mysteries. Future episodes will answer questions such as the identity of the "boy", the nature of the "machine", and the ending of the "monster".

  • Tommy Graef
  • Tommy Graef
  • Tommy Graef
  • Theophilus Soell
    Key Cast
  • Corrine Ferrante
    Key Cast
  • Luke Petrecca
    Key Cast
  • Tommy Graef
    Visual FX
  • Tommy Graef
  • Tommy Graef
    Director of Photography
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Short, Web / New Media, Other
  • Genres:
    Sci-Fi, Surreal, Thriller, Drama, horror
  • Runtime:
    34 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    900 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 5D, MiniDV, GoPro
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival
    Buffalo, NY
    November 6, 2015
    Best Experimental Short
  • Zed Fest Film Festival
    North Hollywood, CA
    November 6, 2015
    Outstanding High Content Award
  • The Short Film Awards
    New York, NY
    United States
    December 2, 2016
    Nomination for "Outstanding Technical Work"
  • Broken Knuckle Film Festival
Director Biography - Tommy Graef

It was the B-movies of the 50's and 60's that molded his young mind. The obsession of catching the Chiller Theater rerun of a spooky classic and the anticipation of seeing the rubber-suited monster finally revealed was more important to him than any sport the other kids followed.

But, it wasn't until he discovered David Croenenberg's "Videodrome" that he experienced such visceral imagery… until he was emotionally moved by William Peter Blatty's "The Ninth Configuration" that he understood the power of philosophical narrative… and, until he studied the works of Salvador Dali that he appreciated art's more subversive nature.

Tommy Graef fell in love with the potential of visual storytelling to reflect the human condition, proclaim truth, and inspire the downcast. He cut his teeth by writing, directing, and starring in a 90-minute movie called "Mind's Eye", produced for his thesis for New College in Sarasota. After graduating college, however, he put off his dream of going to film school and returned home to New Jersey. Tommy spent years in video production and illustration, but eventually took a job working with the homeless, the mentally ill, and the addicted at a rescue mission in South Jersey. This experience resurrected his artistic yearnings, and he again produced his surrealistic images in order to express what he had gone through. His artwork has been seen in shows on both coasts and online.

Eventually, Tommy picked up the camera again and created "Segments of Jonah", a reflection of his dealings with the effects of childhood abuse and mental illness in people he worked with.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

It was a difficult thing in my thirties to deal with the losses I had suffered… my birth-father's death and the suicide of a close friend. With both, I had failed… and that guilt continued to plague me. Eventually, you either compartmentalize experiences, channel feelings, go mad, seek redemption, or attempt some combination of these.

Since I was a child, I’ve had the strange ability to get lost in streams of consciousness, connecting seemingly disparate images and concepts until hidden meanings emerges. This mental anomaly has been the impetus for my artwork and caused me to fall in love with surrealism, especially the works of Salvador Dali and the films of David Cronenberg. And so, it was a natural thing for me to produce this bizarre account of a story that has sadly become all too common.

"Segments of Jonah" is my attempt to sort through the feelings and the madness experienced by those affected by childhood abuse. Originally, the project was devised as an entry for Steven Spielberg's "Studio 360" show. However, my idea grew in complexity and became longer than the 5-minute submission length limit. I didn't care. I was doing what I loved again, and I was excited by the prospect of telling a story to encourage the hurting. So, despite the fact that there was little-to-no budget, I let the script blossom and got friends from the rescue mission I worked at to play the characters. I scrounged spare change for supplies. Effects and editing were accomplished on my laptop. And finally, we had a product. But, I wasn't completely happy with it.

For my new plan, I had the idea of producing segments over time and presenting them as webisodes. Different styles would be used for the segments… 3D animation, stop-motion, live action. The story would develop and be produced as ideas for plot and imagery came to me. Yet, I couldn't get past some of the original problems with the first incarnation of the story, and several of the actors were no longer accessible for further participation. So, I let "Segments of Jonah" sit and thought it would become another stillborn dream.

However, years later, I became inspired to readdress the project. I had been working with action figures for some of my surreal photography and thought that my solution could lie with these. I rethought the storyline and salvaged a bulk of the original footage. But, out were the most problematic of scenes, especially the original live-action therapy scenes.

I decided that "Segments of Jonah" will be a saga comprised of four short movies, or episodes, each of which will unveil its own plotline through contiguous segments. The first episode is this entry and comprises the intro through segment 6. It tells the story of Jonah's descent into madness and unveils the backstory that has led to his pain. It also introduces plot elements, philosophical questions, and mysteries that will be part of the following three shorts.