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As a newcomer joins fellow native laborers at a home construction site, he finds himself at a moral crossroad. He must decide whether to do the right thing or join a shadowy operation, grappling with the high cost of success in the pursuit of the American dream.

Written & Directed by Julissa Scopino

Chisel from Carmona Pictures Movie Poster

Director's Statement

The inception of the "Chisel" story began as a feature script - a thriller with the concept of a "foreign stranger" invading new territory. This concept animates the opening of our short film.

At the heart of Chisel is a simple story about rising the ladder of work hierarchy and what we sacrifice to get there.

Our wonderful DP, Samuel Romero, was the first person to embrace and fully understand what I wanted to accomplish. He immediately got the story. I had wild ideas of machinery vs. men, large groups of laborers, surging sounds of machinery, corruption, inspiration from films like "Gangs of New York" to "Metropolis" to "The Bicycle Thief," large landscapes, art references from "Vida Americana," photographs of the Great Depression and more. Sam got where I wanted to go. He immediately related the story to the work of his favorite photographer, Sebastiao Salgado. I'll forever be grateful for Sam and everything he brought to the project.

Amongst all the obstacles we faced and overcame, casting and world-building were the most challenging. I wanted a particular look and vibe which influenced the visuals and relationship dynamics between characters. My goal was to capture this essence in "Chisel" as a blunt depiction of the current inflationary period of our time.

In watching the film by F.W. Murnau, "The Last Laugh," - I was impacted by the leading character's behavior towards his job and how this job was part of his identity. His pride, love, and self-respect are nourished by his career, and when he loses his job - he loses his sense of self. Here was where my mindset was at, constantly poking at the question - how far will you go to keep your job?

Together, with crew and talent, this was the most harmonious production I've ever worked on. An experience that has impacted me as a woman and a filmmaker, and I'll always return to this memory with joy and happiness.

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