Directed by Shaun MacLean


Fri Apr 5, 2024 – 5:00 pm | La Casa Grande
Tue Apr 9, 2024 – 7:30 pm | Beloit College Powerhouse

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Directed by Shaun MacLean
Narrative Short
United States | 21 min | 2022

After receiving a mysterious letter, a wayward son returns to his childhood home to wrestle with a dark family secret.

“Highlights at the 2023 Indy Shorts International Film Festival”Roger Ebert

“Emerging filmmakers empower audiences at Heartland’s 2023 Indy Shorts International Film Festival” Cinema Femme

We all hope for a peaceful death at an old age, surrounded by the ones we love. At least I do. This is, in part, what makes the tragic stories of a sudden death, a life taken too soon, or a gruesome demise so devastating to us as humans and intriguing to filmmakers, writers, and artists alike.

But there are not as many stories about the elderly who are awaiting death. Those who are in limbo due to ailment or disease, slowly withering away, hoping for the end. This is what sparked Jayson Warner Smith’s idea for his short film in 2016. As his parents’ health began to decline, he speculated on the worst case scenarios. Jayson explored these fears with friends and writers, Ruckus and Lane Skye. They went on to craft a sobering script about a son who is confronted with a grim moral dilemma.

In 2019, Jayson and I met as fellow actors in the repertory production of Our Town and The Laramie Project at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit. If you do not know, these are heavy, profound, beautiful plays. Our Town and The Laramie Project both explore life and death. They are both vignettes of American communities at different points in time. They both feature a young person whose life ends too soon. Jayson, twenty years my senior, and I bonded over our philosophical conversations about these themes. He told me about the short film he had in his back pocket. At the beginning of 2022, I was formally brought onboard to bring Jayson’s project to fruition.

We set out to make a film that prioritized our actors’ performances. The script already lent itself to that and we had assembled a cast of Atlanta’s best talent (JWS, Brittany Deneen, Rick Andosca, Brad Carter, and Kathrine Barnes). But we also wanted to shoot in a way that gave the actors as much freedom as possible. Our Director of Photography, Jesse Scimeca, made this a reality while still creating beautiful, cinematic compositions. We worked out large sections of the script that would be shot in one take. We decided to focus on Reese throughout the film, forcing his perspective onto the audience. And similar to the proscenium arch of a theatre’s stage, we shot our film in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Now, I don’t particularly love 4:3. It is confined, it is dated, it is cramped, it makes me a little uncomfortable. This is exactly why we decided to shoot in this aspect ratio. I wanted to give the audience a taste of Dad’s reality. He is confined to his body, unable to move, surrounded by the same walls he was the day before.

Most members of Generation Jones and Generation X find themselves with baby-boomer parents in their final years. As medical science and technology continues to progress, so does our ability to prolong life. But this new frontier comes with increasingly complex quandaries about quality of life. Gen X is the first cohort to truly experience this unique 21st century gray area. They certainly will not be the last. The right to die is a moral dilemma that will continue to become more prevalent as science advances and time goes on. We hope our short film, Chipper, incites conversation over this impending reality.

Chipper - Poster

Chipper - Shaun MacLeanShaun MacLean

Shaun MacLean is an Atlanta native, University of Georgia graduate (2015), and alumnus of the Horizon Theatre Apprentice Company. A lifelong thespian, Shaun is best known for his work as an actor in theatre, television, and film. Recent acting credits include Wandavision (Marvel Studios), Dynasty (The CW), and The Game (Paramount Plus). But he has found a calling behind the camera as well. Over the past few years, Shaun has produced five narrative short films for various charities and causes with the non-profit production company, Rising Act Films. He is now taking the next step in his career as the director of the short film, Chipper. This marks Shaun’s directorial debut.

Film Information

Director: Shaun MacLean
Country: United States
Year: 2022
Language: English
Runtime: 21 min
Rated:  PG-13


Writer: Lane Skye, Ruckus Skye
Producer: Shaun MacLean, Jesse Scimeca
Executive Producers: Jayson Warner Smith & Ryan Wiedmayer.
Cinematography: Jesse Scimeca
Music: Braden Deal

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Principal Cast

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival