Private Project

American Activities

A young tech entrepreneur tries to impress his college friend by pretending an AirBnB is his house and a prostitute is his girlfriend.

  • Emalia Hinden
  • Emalia Hinden
  • Johanna Fogle
  • Phil Jamesson
    Key Cast
    "I hear that's good" sketch
  • Evan McFarland
    Key Cast
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Cameron Morton
    Key Cast
    In The Treetops
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Political Satire, Drama
  • Runtime:
    18 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 12, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    5,700 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Hofstra Student Film Festival
    United States
    May 19, 2019
    Honorable Mention Best Picture
Distribution Information
  • n/a
Director Biography - Emalia Hinden

Emalia Hinden is a lifelong inhabitant of the world of cinema. She wrote and directed her first film, "Lieutenant Lilly", at the age of 6, and premiered it in local theatres at the age of 10. The film is a period piece which tackles 3rd wave feminist issues and the space race, topics she says she would dare not touch today. Her biggest cinematic inspirations right now are Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who combines comedic irony with social commentary and warm color palettes, and Agnes Varda, who is afraid of nothing. Her dream is to direct her gay western screenplay, which aims to challenge master narratives about American identity and pay homage to her childhood growing up queer in a rural place.

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Director Statement


“It’s fascinating and stupid to watch adults destroy things on purpose.” ~ Chuck Klosterman

American Activities is a collage of what I consider to be the very most American of activities: wiping out playing football, being competitive about grilling, paying women for sex, desperately trying to prove your material success, paranoidly harassing romantic partners about suspected infidelities, and hanging your self worth on your ability to host the perfect weekend in the Hamptons.
The basic action follows a newly wealthy entrepreneur GUS TARBEATER as he invites his old-money college friend LANCE over for the weekend with the covert purpose of impressing with his new lifestyle. However, lively debates and petty embarrassments are too much for Gus’ persistent inferiority complex and he quickly devolves into paranoid and violent behavior. His girlfriend MONICA ends the film similarly disgraced: a former women’s studies major who dropped out to be Gus’ sugar baby, she finds herself in the crosshairs of patriarchy and late capitalism as the two men use her as their pawn to one-up each other.
I knew I had to make American Activities when I realized how untenable American economics are going to get in the next ten years. These characters are, in my eyes, the three horsemen of this country’s impending financial apocalypse - Gus: the manic tech guy who grew up poor and disillusioned with subsidies and unions so he sidesteps them by becoming an entrepreneur and paying his own workers slave wages; Lance: the unsympathetic and untouchable face of inherited wealth; and Monica: the 3rd wave feminist who thought she could find freedom within the existing capitalist patriarchal apparatus by bartering her sex appeal (the “Venmo feminist” as Lance calls her). Public figures they correspond to might be Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, and Stormy Daniels.
I was inspired by films like First Reformed and Mildred Pierce which show the effects of unfettered capitalism on platonic and romantic relationships. I plan to shoot with lots of deep focus and warm colors which will make the film feel like portraiture, and plenty of POV shots to show the reactions of the characters - the crux of the film is centered around them looking at one another and reacting nonverbally as if to say, “Is this allowed?” Films with similar visual style would be Bergman’s Autumn Sonata or Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats The Soul.
Although this is a social commentary film, the tone of American Activities is actually one of a comedy. People light themselves on fire, fall into pools, get caught spying on each other, and perfect the petit-bourgeois activity I have coined “the garage-scream.” The codependent peacocking between Gus and Lance is inspired by Mikey and Nicky, and their caustic repartee recalls the 1968 Buckley-Vidal debates. It’s bro culture and the American bootstraps dream at their most embarrassing and outrageous. I hope my audience leaves the theatre full of amusement and plenty to think about.