"The Puppeteer started with a personal nightmare. The sibling triumverate at the center—Sarah, Danny, and Josh—represent my mother and her two brothers.
All three of these real-life people have passed away, and the versions you see on the screen are highly fictionalized.
But the horrors they endure cleve closely to the horrors of being related to someone—unable to divorce yourself from their pain, unable to forgive yourself for that portion of their pain that, inevitably, is your fault.
Near the end of his life, one of my uncles suffered from a mental illness that no one was prepared to deal with—least of all himself. As his life fell apart, some in my family turned to me as his closest living relative, asking me to upend my own life to help him.
My uncle didn't want my help. In his delusional state, I was the enemy. I was torn between my scolding relatives, my selfish focus on my own life, my guilt over my role in his decline, and my sadness as I remembered the good times, sitting on his lap as a child with a family that still felt whole.
During that period of time, I woke up many mornings at 4am in a cold sweat, feeling chased by consequences that I couldn't avoid forever.
I began to imagine those consequences following me out of my dreams, like a monster stalking my daily life, intent on bleeding me dry.
That monster became The Puppeteer. Sarah—the avatar for my mother—became my "final girl," a repository of undiscovered courage. Courage enough to face the monster, and in the process save herself and her loved ones from a brutal fate.
The short film is a piece of the larger story. The film was shot in Hutto, TX with a crew mostly based in Austin, TX. I am grateful beyond words to the talented people who helped me bring it to life."
Paul Greenamyer, Writer/Director