Experiencing Interruptions?


A policewoman struggles to remember what happened at the old wilson farm, the predicted site of the next murder of a serial killer named Cassandra.

  • David E. Tolchinsky
  • David E. Tolchinsky
  • Madison Jones
  • John Fenner Mays
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Field"
  • Sara Bues
    Key Cast
    "Officer Crawley"
  • Ruby Dalton
    Key Cast
  • Robert Patrick Stern, Cinematographer
    Other Key Crew
  • Sarah Sharp, Production Designer/SFX Artist
    Other Key Crew
  • C.A. Davis, Editor
    Other Key Crew
  • David E. Tolchinsky
  • David E. Tolchinsky
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    thriller, drama, horror, mystery, crime
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 8, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Nightmares Film Festival
    Columbus, OH
    United States
    October 25, 2019
    World Premiere
    Nominated, best actress in the shorts category (Ruby Dalton as young Cassandra)
  • Anatomy Crime & Horror Film Festival
    November 8, 2019
    European premiere
    Best director, crime short
  • Women in Horror Film Festival
    United States
    February 28, 2020
    Georgia Premiere
    Winner, Best Thriller Short and Best Editing (festival wide)
  • Oxford International Short Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    May 28, 2020
    Winner, Best Horror Film and Nominated, Best Production Design
  • Genreblast Film Festival
    Winchester, VA
    United States
    September 5, 2020
    Winner, Best Short (festival-wide)
  • Atlanta Underground Film Festival
    United States
    September 5, 2020
    Best Director of the Festival
Director Biography - David E. Tolchinsky

David E. Tolchinsky's work has been seen at such venues as Sundance, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kennedy Center, and distributed in theatres, on DVD, on iTunes/Amazon Prime, and on the NYTimes Op Docs platform. His film credits include Creature Companion (producer, Special Mention, International Jury, Oberhausen); Cassandra (writer/director/composer), Fast Talk (producer), The Coming of Age (producer/screenwriter, Winner, Silver Medal, LA Film Review), Girl (associate producer/screenwriter, from Sony, starring Selma Blair and Tara Reid), The Personal Life of Mr. Phelps (producer/writer/director/composer, premiered at Sundance), St. Catherine’s Wedding Ring (co-producer/co-director/composer, premiered at Sundance), and most recently Debra Tolchinsky's short documentary, Contaminated Memories (co-producer/composer, as part of the NYTimes Op Docs platform).

He is currently working on the feature version of Cassandra, developing a TV series about Wilhelm Reich, and co-producing/scoring Debra Tolchinsky feature documentary, True Memories and Other Falsehoods (in process).

He was co-ranked no. 7 on New City's Film 50 2017: Chicago Screen Gems. He is the founder/co-director of Northwestern University’s MFA program in writing for the screen+stage and attended Yale (BA, musical composition/video) and USC School of Cinematic Arts (MFA, film production). More at http://davidetolchinsky.com.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Don't give away the ending. . .

I remember reading an article in The New Yorker about psychiatrists in Chicago who had reinterpreted their patients' dreams as memories of abuse. These psychiatrists were part of a short-lived movement called “memory recovery therapy." Disturbing to me is that I had had the same dream as a five-year-old as one of the patients in the article— two "things" standing outside my window watching me. I had always experienced that image as a memory, not as a dream. As it turns out, it was just a dream, and so were the dreams of the patients. The psychiatrists had inadvertently or intentionally “implanted” memories of abuse in their patients. Meanwhile, the “recovered memories” had caused trauma, raised questions and had made shambles of the patients’ relationships with the accused family members and/or friends. “Recovered memories therapy” was replaced by “false memory syndrome,” and the destruction of the careers of the psychiatrists involved.

Years later, as a screenwriter, I pondered — what if one of the psychiatrists had stumbled upon actual abuse (and no doubt some of the memory recovery psychiatrists did just that), but disavowed that abuse, for fear of being sued or imprisoned. I also thought of my childhood during which I felt I was a victim of emotional (not sexual) abuse, and that an authority figure knew and did nothing to stop it. And that’s how I backed into the story of Cassandra which as it took shape became about excavating horror, guilt, and rage.

For those who don’t know, according to mythology, the half-goddess Cassandra was able to predict the future, but since she rejected Apollo’s advances, was cursed never to be believed, so she went mad. Significantly, Cassandra could speak to birds, which were seen as the link between humans and the gods. Meanwhile, Actaeon peered at Artemis while she was naked, so she punished him by turning him into a stag. Punished him in a rage. . .

For me, Cassandra, birds, and stags are symbols of people now standing up for themselves against sexual abusers but (in the case of Cassandra) at the same time sometimes not believed and therefore silenced. Power and powerlessness. Fear and rage.

Writing this film brought forth the above-mentioned images/references which sometimes surprised me. Directing this film forced me to understand and communicate the meaning of those images to my actors and crew. All 28+ of us stayed on a farm for a week in Monroe, WI, the supposed site of Cassandra’s next murder. And yes, strange things began to happen on that farm, namely a shared, deeply emotional journey that we all still talk about. Scoring/sound designing this film (I was trained as a composer at Yale before I began studying screenwriting at USC film school) was starting all over again - intuitively creating something whose origins I wasn’t quite aware of. At the same time, I was also scoring Debra Tolchinsky’s NYTimes Op-Doc, Contaminated Memories. Debra wanted me to make the music itself somehow contaminated. No doubt for me as a composer, there was a cross-pollination between the two works.

As a professor of screenwriting at Northwestern University, I teach that, for the audience, every scene in a screenplay takes places in the present, even if it’s a flashback. Given that our film is about uncertain dreams, memories, and timelines, I wondered could I raise questions about what exactly we are experiencing--past, present or future. So, Officer Crawley is talking to an investigator about events at a house that she can't remember as we see her driving towards the house where she meets the owner who describes his past as a memory recovery psychiatrist. In that past, we meet the owner’s patient, who invokes a memory of an even more distant past. Or perhaps that distant past is the present and the future something that is being imagined.

Maybe Cassandra will stir fear or rage, and dreams or memories of events that may or may not have happened. . . the past is always in flux. And sometimes the past can feel more present than the present itself. Who knows.

Thanks for watching. And yes, thanks for not giving away the ending.