Private Project

Man on the Tower

Logline: Kids playing in their back yard witness the 1966 Charles Whitman sniper shooting on the University of Texas Tower and decide they must save their father who is teaching class on the campus. Based on the actual event.

Brief Synopsis: It's August 1, 1966 and brothers Will (10) and Eddie (7) are in their back yard "shooting" at each other with toy guns when their friend Julie (10) runs in clutching a small radio, yelling "there's a man on the tower shooting!" From the edge of the yard they see puffs of smoke on the U.T. tower as the radio blares. Will insists he must save Dad, a professor on campus, ordering Eddie to stay behind, but Julie tags along. Trekking through the woods, they are startled by Eddie who has followed, demanding to go with them. Back at home, Mom discovers they are missing. As the kids trudge on Eddie falls and injures his elbow. Fearing the sniper can see them, they run for cover. Just as Will is ready to give up, they are confronted by a huge surprise.

  • Karl Shefelman
    Memory Box (short), Looking for the Jackalope (feature), Bill's Seat (short), Elysian Fields (short). See IMDB for more...
  • Karl Shefelman (story by)
    (See above)
  • Tracee Beebe (screenplay)
  • Ellen Goldfader
  • Karl Shefelman (Executive)
  • Nick Stevenson
    Key Cast
    Orange is the New Black
  • Aloysious Tasche
    Key Cast
  • Lydia Tracy
    Key Cast
  • River Drosche
    Key Cast
    The Rookie
  • Julia Barnett
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 31, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital (Black Magic)
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival
    Houston, Texas
    United States
    April 22, 2021
    Remi Award for Best Short Film
  • Miami Short Film Festival
    United States
    January 2, 2021
    North American
    Official Selection
  • Katra Film Series
    New York, NY
    United States
    October 21, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Lonely Wolf London International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    December 23, 2020
    United Kingdom
    Official Selection and Semi Finalist
  • Global Shorts

    Award of merit
Director Biography - Karl Shefelman

As a filmmaker, Karl has worn many hats: writer, director, editor, and storyboard artist (his "day job"). Karl is developing his second feature film project, "System of Survival". Based on a true story set in Karl's hometown of Austin, Texas, "S.O.S." is a darkly comedic true-crime drama with a ton of heart and an under-lying social message. Karl has written another feature script called "The Hunters" which was a Semifinalist in the 2015 Nicholl Fellowships Screenplay Competition and a Top 50 Script.

As a director, Karl's debut feature film, "Looking for the Jackalope", won the Jury Award for Best Comedy Feature and the Audience Award for Best U.S. Feature at the 2017 Austin Revolution Film Festival. Distributed by Indie Rights Movies, it is now available on Amazon Prime and many other online platforms.

Karl's short film, "Man on the Tower", screened at numerous film festival and won a Remi Award for best short film at Worldfest Houston in 2021. Based on actual events, it tells the story of some young kids witnessing the 1966 Charles Whitman sniper shooting from their back yard in Austin, Texas.

Karl's short film, "Bill's Seat", won Best Short Film at the St. Louis Int'l Film Festival, 2003. His original half-hour period drama, "Elysian Fields", also won numerous festival awards, including a Gold Prize at the World Festival/Houston. Distributed by Tapestry International, it was sold to the BBC-2.

In addition, Karl has worked for years as a storyboard artist for numerous A-list directors including Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley Scott, and Martin Scorsese.

Karl was born and raised in Austin, Texas before moving to New York.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

As mass shootings continue to occur with increasing frequency in this country, I strongly felt the need to convey this story in a film, told through the eyes of a young boy, dramatizing how childhood bliss and innocence was forever altered on that hot August day in Austin, Texas, 1966. The short film, "Man on the Tower", is a semi-fictionalized account of my memory of that tragic event. While the film is not meant to be overtly political or a public service announcement, I do hope the film promotes real conversation about the tragic phenomenon of mindless mass shootings that currently plagues our nation.