A Paid Connection

32-year-old Caroline has been seeing her 63-year-old therapist Judy for almost half of her life. Caroline goes into her session thinking it is a regular week and doesn’t realize Judy is trying to tell her something until their time is up. Judy announces her retirement and Caroline reacts badly, demanding to know why. Judy strives to keep her space professional and reminds Caroline that her reasons are personal. Caroline doesn’t understand why Judy won’t stay and refuses to leave the office. Judy tries to shoo Caroline out and assures her that she’ll be able to find a new therapist. However, Caroline doesn’t trust a new therapist to get her through another dark period in her life as she credits Judy for saving her after a suicide attempt. Judy decides to give Caroline a few more minutes and leaves the room to tell her next patient she’ll need some more time. While Judy is gone, Caroline snoops through Judy’s file on her and finds her old college graduation announcement she had mailed years ago and a picture of the two of them from the hospital. When Judy comes back, Caroline is mostly resigned to Judy leaving but tries once more to get Judy to admit that she cares about her. Instead, Judy remains evasive and, in desperation, Caroline offers to pay Judy more to keep seeing her. Judy refuses and lashes out at Caroline along with establishing a clear professional boundary. Hurt, Caroline leaves without saying another word. Judy has very little time to comprehend what just happened as she calls in her next patient and begins the process anew. This film is about the pain of an ending relationship that is doubly felt as one realizes that she has had the wrong idea about the relationship all along.

  • Lauren Elizabeth Schwartzbard
    Director
  • Lauren Elizabeth Schwartzbard
    Writer
  • Lauren Elizabeth Schwartzbard
    Producer
  • Janet Schwartzbard
    Executive Producers
  • Carol Schwartzbard
    Executive Producers
  • Kevin Johnson
    Director of Photography
  • Katie Harkins
    Assistant Camera
  • Gordon Snyder
    Composer
  • Alana Hill
    Key Cast
    "Caroline Farley"
  • Diane Mostello
    Key Cast
    "Judy Stevens"
  • Jacob Kressly
    Gaffer/Grip
  • George Hawke
    Sound Mixer/Boom Operator
  • Lauren Elizabeth Schwartzbard
    Editor
  • George Hawke
    Assistant Editor
  • Michelle Schwartzbard
    Still Photographer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 15, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    550 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, BRAW
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Temple University
  • Silicon Beach Film Festival
    Los Angelos, CA
    United States
    California Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival
    Philadelphia, PA
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Playhouse West Film Festival - Philadelphia
    Philadelphia, PA
    United States
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Lauren Elizabeth Schwartzbard

Miss. Schwartzbard is a rising senior at Temple University pursing a BFA in Film & Media Arts with a Concentration in Directing. She is originally from South Orange, NJ and now resides in Philadelphia, PA while at school. Along with her film degree, she is studying for a General Business Studies minor and is in the University Honors Program.

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Director Statement

I find that I am drawn to telling personal and painful stories. After projects about eating disorders and abusive relationships, it seems fitting to tell a story about therapy. I myself have been in therapy for several years now and have seen at five different therapists during that time. At the end of my freshman year of college, I had to say good-bye to my therapist, and it was very hard for me. I had no real way to deal with my emotions because people don’t typically talk about their experiences with therapy. After simmering for a little over a year, those feelings re-emerged and inspired this film. Writing this script has allowed me to understand myself better.

This film has to be made because there are not enough works exploring the particular relationship between a patient and her therapist. It is a relationship built over time that is incredibly one-sided. A therapist knows so much about her patient, more than many friends or family of said patient know. But patients know very little, if anything, about their therapists. They still keep sharing though because one feels like there is a connection. At least I have found that to be the case for me once I found a therapist who clicked.

I want the viewer to experience pain while watching this film. Pain over the end of a relationship and pain over the revelation that the end of the relationship will hurt one person far more than the other. I want the viewer to go along on the journey with Caroline as she reminds Judy, and is reminded herself, of what the two of them have been through together only for Judy to clarify that it is her job to be there for Caroline and she is paid to do so. I do not want to demonize therapists in this piece and so Judy is fighting her own battle and due to the professional nature of her relationship with Caroline, she cannot share it. However, the majority of the pain falls onto Caroline because as the patient she has fewer rules to follow and continues to reach out again and again, getting rejected each time. I think there is sometimes hope that by breaking the rules enough, you can change the outcome but, in this case, Caroline is doomed to lose Judy from the moment she walks in.