When her daughter is suddenly taken in broad daylight, Elizabeth Grey, mother of two, shuts her and her son away from the world, locking down her home as she struggles to guard what she still has left.

  • Jes Martinez
  • Jes Martinez
  • Jes Martinez
  • Margaret Coryell
  • Mark Newsom
  • Nicole Martinez
  • Samuel Martinez
  • Mandy Brooke
    Key Cast
    "Elizabeth Grey"
  • J.T. Underwood
    Key Cast
    "Micah Grey"
  • Austin Petty
    Director of Photography
  • Jes Martinez
  • Matthew Foss
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 18, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Belmont University
Director Biography - Jes Martinez

Jes Martinez had an early fascination with looking at the world through the lens of a camera, photographing nature, family vacations, school events— whatever caught her eye and captured her imagination. Born and raised in the D.C. suburbs of Virginia, she decided to pursue her hobby more seriously as a student of Motion Pictures at Belmont University in Nashville, TN where she got her start in filmmaking. Over the summer after her freshman year, Jes partnered up with a fellow Belmont student to produce and direct the video that became the official music video for Kenny Chesney's song "All the Pretty Girls." She worked on over a dozen student film sets during her time at Belmont. "Safer" is her thesis film which she produced in 2020 during her senior year, though post-production was interrupted by the pandemic and was not officially completed until May of 2021. She graduated during the initial months of the COVID-19 quarantine and temporarily moved back to Virginia. Jes currently bartends at a restaurant and works freelance P.A., photo, and videography gigs. She even had one of her photos published in the New York Times online in July of 2020!

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Director Statement

I wrote this script during a season in which I myself was warring internally over how to move forward through grief. I wanted to tell this particular story because, in the wake of failure, rejection, betrayal, or loss, we tend to lock down our hearts thinking we will be safer, but we never actually feel safe while we still allow fear and past experiences control us. We only find safety in the freedom we gain when we choose to hope and to see the good that still exists in the world, exposing ourselves to the possibility of more suffering but also to the possibilities of healing and new blessings.
My initial vision was to juxtapose two characters who fight to protect their individual ideals of goodness, embodied in the innocence of childhood, in drastically different ways: one of them, the antagonist, would be driven to monstrosity as she resigns to despair, while the other, the protagonist, would spiral out down that path initially, but ultimately choose hope. Throughout the process— and with more than one title change— I concluded that, in a 15-minute film, less is more. I decided to focus more on the protagonist, Elizabeth Grey, and her internal battle. I aimed to capture her deterioration through her grief until she comes face to face with the reality that she must confront her fear, rather than continue to succumb to it. I knew from the beginning that I wanted the sound design and score to parallel Elizabeth’s internal struggle, growing increasingly chaotic as she gradually breaks down. Towards that end, my vision was for the score to be less traditionally musical, instead building onto a base of percussion with more experimental sounds like trains, creaking swings, whispers, and the like, and only incorporating more traditional music at a few crucial moments. I had a clear vision for the cinematography for “Safer” from early on as well. My goal was to compose shots that communicated a feeling of being watched to add to the audience’s unease by making particular use of foreground and background elements as well as dramatic, low angles. The main theme we stuck with was placing the camera in positions where we were peering at the action through things like doorframes and windows, trees, or jungle gym bars, so that it feels like the audience is spying on the story. My visions aside, however, I know this film could not have come together without the hard work and support of the many other individuals who came alongside me, turned “my” visions into our vision, and committed to bringing it to life. And to them, I am incredibly grateful.