The Couple Upstairs

A feuding couple overhears their upstairs neighbors gossiping about them.

  • Timothy Burnham
  • Timothy Burnham
  • Timothy Burnham
  • Jasmine Sankaran
  • Claire Haller
    Key Cast
    Old, New, & Blue
  • Erik Leupp
    Key Cast
  • Jasmine Sankaran
    Sound & Music
  • Ben Hoskin
    Director of Photography
    My Own
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Multiverse
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    200 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    RED Helium 6k
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Poppy Jasper International Film Festival
    Gilroy, CA
    United States
    April 7, 2022
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Timothy Burnham

Timothy Burnham was raised by psychopaths in a far away desert and learned how to be a civilized human being by observing characters in movies and recreating behaviour seen in life with actors. From the moment he realized the tiny people in the picture box were all real adults getting paid to tell stories, he knew it was the only thing he’d ever be satisfied doing with his life. Now he spends his days in Los Angeles, convincing creative people to hang out with him.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement


The concept came to director Timothy Burnham when he looked up one day and noticed a huge hole in his bathroom ceiling. He told his frequent collaborators: sound engineer and LA indie punk scene kid Jasmine Sankaran, and director of photography and helicopter pilot in training Ben Hoskin, about the hole and did not tell his landlord.

He conceived the characters through occasionally-embarrassing improvisational methods with the actors, both of whom were also previous collaborators. Early in the process, Claire and Erik were given a disposable camera and sent on an unguided excursion into the wilds of Los Angeles with the mission of taking photos together to portray the happy former upstairs era of the couple. Haller, Leupp, and Burnham then spent a month working on the genesis of the relationship together, via multiple rehearsal and backstory days.

The bathroom was painted blue, a bundle of multi-colored wires was added to the hole to imply a machine in the process of breaking down. The bedroom was redressed from head to toe. The photos taken by the actors were developed and framed, and over a two day, script-less shoot in which no one knew the final outcome except for the hints provided by Burnham, The Couple Upstairs came into being.

The Couple Upstairs is the second of a cycle of three short films made by this team during the pandemic about the reality-shattering difficulty of sustaining interpersonal relationships during such a turbulent time for the human race. It is the second short film released by director Timothy Burnham to feature entirely improvised dialogue and motivation - the first of which, Silver Dreams, competed in Essex’s South Coast Film Festival and won for Best International Smart Phone Short Film.