In a future dystopian society, a group of young combatants battle each other in a competition where the last one alive is the winner. That sounds like a logline for “The Hunger Games.”
Now add in the corporate consumerism on the day after Thanksgiving – and lots of broad humor – and you’ve got “The Black Friday Games,” a short film released by Bard Tales Productions and Ciscovaras Pictures earlier this month.
The film parodies both the popular book-turned-film series and the increasingly dangerous and vapid shopping holiday that follows many Americans’ turkey dinners.
It stars Chelsie Lloyd as Kashliss Everlean, a more ruthless, annoyed version of Katniss Everdeen, and Chris Stinson as Peetsa Malarkey, a much creepier, desperate version of Peeta Mellark.
Kashliss and Peetsa are two contestants in The Black Friday Games, a battle royale for shopping supremacy set in a big-box-store arena, like how Walmart or Target might be this coming Friday. The film is a “Scary Movie”-style parody, taking details from the original and making them ridiculous. It was directed by Francis Abbey and Greg Thompson and written by Abbey and Chad Horn.
Horn, who also produced the film on behalf of Bard Tales Productions, said he came up with the idea for it last year at a birthday party, with a little help from family.
“We heard on the news that someone was in a mall tasering people…and the whole consumerism nature of it kind of defeats the purpose of the holidays,” Horn said.
“We said why do this, it doesn’t make any sense and my brother-in-law said it was like ‘The Hunger Games’ and I said oh, that’s a really good idea. We could probably have fun with that.”
And that’s where the idea started – with Horn, equipment from Bard Tales Productions, a corporate video house and Horn’s employer, and four or five of Horn’s friends. It was initially supposed to be a small side project he knocked out in a day or two for fun.
“But then as we started telling people about it, the idea snowballed and it got bigger and bigger,” Horn said.
Horn said the movie was always just a fun side project – him, Abbey and the rest of the production crew met once or twice a month from January until early November to complete the project. Most of the project was shot at the Brother’s Brother Foundation’s warehouse in Fairfax with funding from Bard Tales Productions over the course of four days in June.
The film premiered on Nov. 11 at Landmark Theatres Bethesda Row in Maryland to friends and family of the cast and crew and some people who came in off the street. Those in attendance were greeted by a film poster for the movie in a kiosk in front of the movie theatre.
Horn said the energy was really high at the premier and the film has been well received since its release. The nearly 11-minute film, along with a behind-the-scenes feature and bloopers and outtakes, can be seen at theblackfridaygames.com.
It’s a hilarious little ride with a substantive message and an ending that bucks the original book and film and perhaps satirizes, rather than idealizes, who we are as a society.
Before the credits roll, there is a serious call to action that says the following: “This holiday season, instead of killing each other in the shopping malls, please consider giving to those in need through a charity like the Brother’s Brother Foundation.”
Horn said the meaning of the holiday season has been lost in a culture that values consumerism over family.
“I feel that the whole Black Friday consumer culture that we’ve developed is very contrary to the spirit of these holidays,” he said.
“So that was the message we were hoping to invoke and there’s a lot of people in this country who are very fortunate and there’s a lot of people who aren’t.
“So we were hoping people could channel remembering what the holidays are supposed to be about and take care of the people who are less fortunate instead of going out and stabbing each other to save $3 on a big TV that you don’t necessarily need.”