Alexander the Brain

"Alexander the Brain” dives fist-first into the mind of Alexander Conroy, a bare-knuckle boxer in the 1880s who is approached by a young fighter, Charlie, who idolizes him. Alexander takes Charlie under his wing and into the dangerous testosterone-fueled world of bare-knuckle boxing to get his revenge at an old "friend" Mr. Barley, who makes young men fight for his own monetary gain.

  • Danny Pakulski
  • Danny Pakulski
  • Simon Yahn
    Director of Photography
    Bond, The Spirit of Creation
  • Liam O'Brien
  • Jacob Ames
    Key Cast
    "Alexander the Brain "
  • Connor McNelis
    Key Cast
    "Charlie "
  • David Durst
    Key Cast
    "Mr. Barley "
  • Bob Baker
    Key Cast
    "Jimmy Allen"
  • Chloe Predock (she/her)
  • Jesse James
    Key Grip
  • Ellie Pietras
    Assitant Director
  • Elvis Maryshine
    Art Director
  • Chris Hauk
    Graphic Designer
  • Liam O'brien
    Locations Manager
  • Dallas Calkins
    1st Assitant Camera
  • Jesse James
    1st Assitant Camera
  • Vega Carnahan
    2nd Assitant Camera
  • Ellie Pietras
    Script Supervisor
  • Elias Yahn
    Location Sound Mixers
  • Rob Frank
    Location Sound Mixers
  • Elias Yahn
    Boom Operators
  • Rob Frank
    Boom Operators
  • Elias Buhl
    Fight Choreographer
  • Kiran Shah
    Fight Choreographer
  • Louis Geramita
    Wardrobe Supervisor
  • Barbie Harkins
    Wardrobe Assistant
  • Celine Winters
    Make-up Artist
  • Hudson Tran
    Still/BTS Photography
  • Liam O'Brien
    Covid-19 Compliance Officer
  • Simon Yahn
  • Danny Pakulski
  • Kai Scheer
    Sound Design
  • Simon Yahn
  • Jack Levin
    Assistant Producer
  • Ryan Cedzo
    Assistant Producer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Action, History, Historical Drama, Fighting, Drama, Thriller, Martial Arts, Civil War, Boxing
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 26 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 29, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Red Epic Dragon 6K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - The Pennsylvania State University: Behrend Campus
  • London Indie Short Festival
    United Kingdom
    March 4, 2022
    United Kingdom Premiere
    Best Student Director (Male)
  • San Francisco Indie Short Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    February 21, 2022
    North American Premiere
  • Independent Shorts Awards
    Los Angeles
    United States
    March 18, 2022
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Best Cinematography, Best Student Short, Best Student Director (Male), Runner-up Best Original Story, Runner-up Best Film of the Month
  • Oddity Productions Alexander the Brain Erie Premiere
    United States
    March 19, 2022
    Erie Premiere
  • Crown Point International Film Festival
    United States
    April 2, 2022
    Chicago Premiere
    Best Student Film, Best Supporting Actor (David Durst), Best Costumes (Louis Germita)
Director Biography - Danny Pakulski

In 1999, a movie camera and a guitar solo collided in deep space to create a meteor that crashed to Earth and landed in Erie, Pennsylvania. Thus, Danny was created. Since then he has used his intuition and eye for cinematic moments to learn, capture, and create films. Life experiences and musical influences guided his journey into the world of storytelling. Themes and philosophies weave themselves into a plot after a compelling and provocative idea finds its way into the waters of his mind in which he surfs. After two student shorts helped him create local buzz and establish his company, Oddity Productions, Danny created his third short film, Alexander the Brain.

Looking forward, Danny’s appreciation of personal experiences and creative storytelling has his sights set on another short film that explores life and humanity through a sci-fi story shot using virtual production technology. Subsequently, he will focus on his first feature-length project.

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Director Statement

“When I first started thinking about what this project could be, I was fascinated and inspired by films that explored masculinity and violence such as David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999). Our current national climate on issues including toxic masculinity and violence were at a boiling point as the 2020 election drew nearer. This current state of our country, in tandem with an era of history that I have always found an interest in, the Civil War period in American history, led me to conceive the character, Alexander “The Brain” Conroy.

He is a character that became a part of the culture around him, a culture of violence. I became enveloped in this story that explored what kind of social conditions would’ve created bare-knuckle boxing, an event so popular, sports journalism was actually brought into existence to cover it. What drew so many to beating each other to a pulp for entertainment? Alexander is the epitome of the conditions that created athletes such as real boxing champions John Sullivan and Paddy Ryan. Alexander exists to create violence. He believes that violence is how we succeed in America having grown up in a world surrounded by violence and division during the Civil War. The advent of photography brought these images of gruesome and graphic violence into the homes of Americans. Now, a susceptible, young Alexander, having lost his father in the war, is growing up without guidance or morals. He finds his own way to be powerful: in the ring, but Alexander is of course not the only young man looking for purpose in this world.

Others like him seek out Alexander as he gains a reputation of a ferocious and powerful fighter. Others like Charlie, see Alexander as the answer to all their problems. They see him as a teacher, one who will enlighten them and show them what it takes to feel powerful and find purpose in an America that seems so hopeless. Alexander’s philosophy of putting young men in the ring to fight and empower them that way, stands in contrast to his antagonist Mr. Barley, who doesn’t put young men in the ring to empower them, but to exploit them. Mr. Barley comes from the generation before and actually fought with the Union army alongside Alexander’s father. Now, seeing the opportunity before him, of all the vulnerable young men who desperately desire an intense physical and emotional outlet, Mr. Barley convinces them to fight under him with the promise of money and fame.

This film feels more relevant than ever, over 150 years after the Civil War. We still deal with a toxic culture of violence and rampant patriotism in America today. We still have people like Alexander, who feel entitled to their freedom to fight. While watching this film, I want viewers to think about how long ago this was, yet how relevant it still is. My experience on this film was unlike anything I’ve ever done, creative or otherwise. A talented crew and support from all around me helped me to bring this important story to life. We overcame any and all issues that stood before us and came out the other side stronger filmmakers than before. I am unbelievably excited to share what so many put their hearts into, but I am perhaps even more excited to use what I learned, whether it be writing and storytelling or working with people and connecting a crew on a level deeper than coworkers but artists, to tell my next story.

Alexander The Brain explores themes of patriotism, violence, and toxic masculinity through dark humor, action, and drama in a short film that not only gets your blood pumping, but spills it all over the floor.” - Danny Pakulski