Assistant professor Jon Mabee has recently received recognition from multiple film festivals for three of his original screenplays.
On Blackest Day, In Brightest Night
On Blackest Day, In Brightest Night, a narrative feature, was picked up as an “Official Selection” for the 2018 Fly Film Festival in Enid, Oklahoma.
On Blackest Day, In Brightest Night is “a reimagination adaptation of the Green Lantern (Simon Baz)’s origin story,” says Mabee. The main character (Simon) is Palestinian-American.
Mabee elaborated, “The story is a double layered hero’s journey, both to prove himself as being worthy of being Green Lantern, but also fighting social constructions of what it means to be a Muslim-American in modern society.”
Mabee served in the Navy and his experience in the Middle East influenced this particular story.
Says Mabee, “We’ve villainized and socially constructed Muslim-Americans to fit in a particular box, and it really makes me angry. So my goal was to share a story that is very American but isn’t often heard by an American audience. I was drawn to this character from my own service in the Middle East and my own misconceptions of Arabs and now, knowing people from the region, how little representation they get in film (unless it’s negative).”
“Ultimately the story’s message is it doesn’t matter who you love, what you look like, who you believe in—anyone can be a hero.” -Jon Mabee
Cornelius Adams, Mabee’s original TV pilot, is now a “Semi-Finalist” for The Film Empire’s Diversity Screenplay Competition 2018.
Mabee describes Cornelius Adams as “a wild sci-fi romp through the galaxy.”
He said that he has received particularly enthusiastic reception to Cornelius’s sidekick: a sheep.
18 Years In
18 Years In Mabee’s original narrative short was an “Official Selection” and made a “Quarter-Finalist” for the category of Best Narrative Short (International) in the Script & Storyboard International Film Festival – Third Quarter.
The story follows in alternate universe in which Mabee himself has a daughter at age 20, and when she’s 18, she decides to enlist in the military.
For Mabee, this story hit very close to home.
“This last memorial day, I was sitting in my family room, and I was thinking about my time in the Navy. I’ve had 50 or 60 friends who’ve died over the course of the wars in the Middle East. It got me thinking, if I’d had my daughter at 20 (instead of 34), she’d be old enough to join the military after graduating high school and probably would because it’s a family thing. And it got me really angry because if my daughter went to boot camp, you know, this year or next year, she’ll be fighting the same war I did almost 20 years ago. Not just the same war I fought, but the same war I helped start back in 2001. To have a whole generation of kids go and be born and raised to go fight the same war, and that fact that nobody in society talks about it is crazy to me. So I needed to make a film that was kind of a call to arms in a way. This is a very real scenario.”
Mabee explains, “I hope the film resonates with an audience, so that when they leave, they feel, ‘Shoot, we’ve been in this war for 20 years. What are we doing?’”
Mabee offered some advice himself to aspiring screenwriters.
He recommends, “You have to write. Get it out of your head and onto a physical plane. Whether that’s a white board, an index card, a post-it note anything, so you have a tangibly physical idea. Once that’s through, you have to just sit down and write your script. Don’t worry about words being perfect—that’ll come after you put it from your brain onto paper. No one can see inside your brain, so don’t keep it in there.”
Filming 18 Years In
Mabee filmed 18 Years In during August 2018.
It was a gratifying experience and provided hands-on opportunities for students, allowing Mabee to mentor students on the set.
The film is currently in post-production.