From script to film. “Article 22” legal drama edu-short. A film about truth.

Case study from script to film experience of “Article 22” short film.

From script to film experience: Article 22 case-study

Film number: 2
Status: Produced (2020)
Creator: Georgia Mihalcea
Film language: Romanian (with English subtitles)
Genre: legal drama, educational
Duration: 5 minutes
Actors: Marcela Motoc
Format: short form
Expenses: 100$
Production Value: 2500$
Online views 2020 (organic): apx. 30.000
Official selections: “Best producer for a short film” category at the Film Festival of Independent Film Producers in Romania (IPIFF 2021, 15th Edition).
Published on Cinepub: 14 December 2021
Cinepub is the Romanian platform for the legal distribution of the works of independent filmmakers or those who are part of the national and/or international heritage
If my work is useful to you, helps you, or inspires you, watch “Article 22” for $3.88 below. Otherwise, you’ll find the film free to watch at the end of this post.

This is a project that I and most viewers consider to be of public utility and I intend to develop it in a web series on the topic of integrity from the perspective of Ethics, broadcast free for online viewing, dedicated to younger audiences. So, any support is welcomed! You can contribute with case studies or opinions in the development of this project, by participating in the discussion on Quora from the group “Law, Morality, and Ethics” here.

ARTICLE 22 from Films by Georgia on Vimeo.

Notes from the production of the “Article 22” short film
Writing duration: 3 hours and a few more hours the editing after the judge’s notes
Shooting hours: 3-4 hours
Editing time: 1 day (no coloring)
Team: 4 people (me, the cinematographer, his assistant, and the actress)
Sound notes: we recorded the two voices in her head and downloaded the recording on a smartphone, then we gave the actress a Bluetooth headset, so she can synchronize her performance.

About “Article 22” – The role of the judge in finding the truth.
Synopsis: Troubled by a corruption case she is working on, a judge begins to question her ways, ethics, morality, and integrity. A moment that reminds her of Article 22 “The role of the judge in finding the truth” and the spirit of the law.

“Article 22” (The role of the judge in finding the truth) is a 5-minute short film I’ve made in November 2020 for the International Anticorruption Day during an educational contest of shorts organized by the Romanian authorities for keywords like truth, no corruption, ethics, law, morality, and integrity.

Ironically, the anticorruption short competition’s jury members valued the film but said it is about the legal system, not about corruption, therefore they cannot award it. A comment that left me quite speechless.

Questions “Article 22” aims to open

How can we open a real discussion about corruption, if we don’t talk about how the truth contracts and expands in the fish’s head, at the top level where truth and justice are served and where cards are made? What about our heads? What about according to the law of one place or another? What is corruption if not the manipulation of truth? And if corruption doesn’t begin in us, where does it begin?

Article 22″ – short movie script

Note: As in the case of the screenplay for the fantasy short film Sunmoon, Article 22 did not have a conventional script either, my main concern being the monologue or rather the dialogue between the three voices of the judge / text and the performance of the actress. So, for the purpose of this post, I rewind the film of this beautiful story to sketch the script that I had in mind, but not on paper.

EXT. STAIRS – DAY

The Judge vomits at the top of the stairs. As she wipes herself with a napkin and waits a bit to recover, a dialogue begins in her mind, between Thought (subjective truth) and Truth (a more objective truth, at least).

THOUGHT
It must be from some shitty thing I ate today.

TRUTH
Or from the shitty sentence you are about to render today.

THOUGHT
It is a legal sentence.

TRUTH
But is it also sound?

THOUGHT
I know where this comes from. It’s that filthy can. Sound?

TRUTH
Article 22. Code of Civil Procedure. The role of the judge in finding the truth. The judge has a duty to persevere in order to prevent any error in finding the truth in question for the purpose of rendering a sound and lawful judgment. Dictionary: sound = undoubtful.

The judge goes down the stairs.

THOUGHT
My sentence? I analyzed in detail all the evidence submitted by the parties. There’s no “i” that you can put your finger on. It is sound. This abuse thing is very ugly. And it gets even uglier when the alleged victim is a minor and the abuser is a dignitary or a prominent man. The evidence is sacred. You don’t play with it. When you hit one from the top a hundred falls and you start an apocalypse that no one needs.

TRUTH
That YOU don’t need.

THOUGHT
What?

TRUTH
Why did the victim remain alleged and her truth doubtful? Isn’t this the pathway we die with justice in hand? When you hit one from the bottom millions fall and you start an apocalypse that can tear down the world. Including yours.

THOUGHT
I did what I had to do, the way it had to be done. What more can I do? I don’t understand.

TRUTH
Article 22. Investigate the truth. Don’t cover your increasingly decaying reasoning with papers. You are shying away from the spirit of the law. Have you forgotten yourself? If so, your forgetfulness is contagious.

The judge stops and returns by looking into the camera with the expression of thought.

THE JUDGE (FROM THOUGHT’S PERSPECTIVE)
Decaying reasoning? Why don’t you say decaying law? Decaying system. Decaying politicians. Decaying people. Pharisees crowding to protest in amorphous groups against corruption, but who don’t fight for themselves. And don’t tell me they are afraid! Because if that’s so, I have to ask you: When they bribe to solve their problems before everybody else, aren’t they afraid? When they are not loyal to the words they bound each other with, are they not afraid? Of the infidelity to their own identity, aren’t they afraid? The lie in their hearts doesn’t terrify them? What are you saying? What are we talking about here?

The judge returns again to the camera, but with the expression of truth this time.

THE JUDGE (FROM TRUTH’S PERSPECTIVE)
About you. About today. About this particular case. The parents of a 10-year old girl struggling to protect their child. Aren’t you outraged by the confusion in this file? If her truth is true, who stops the culprit? If his truth is true, who cleans his reputation? I say inertia pushed you here. The same way it pushed everyone else. I say you didn’t compete enough with yourself. As most people don’t. I say to exercise all the duties you have to the very end. Each time it is necessary. As everyone should do. Each time when it is necessary.

The judge starts running down the stairs.

THOUGHT
What duties should I exercise? I am doing my job. What do you want from me?

TRUTH
Article 22. The role of the judge in finding the truth. The judge is entitled to order any measures provided by the law even if the parties object and even if they are not mentioned in their request.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the Judge takes two more steps out of inertia.

THE JUDGE
Even if the parties object…

The Judge stops. It rings a bell.

THE JUDGE
and even if they are not mentioned…

The judge starts running back on the stairs. She pulls out his phone and calls somewhere.

THE JUDGE
(on the phone)
Leave Order 22 from today on my desk. The file in which I postponed the ruling. We put it back on track. We’re not finished. We are just getting started.

On ending credits

TRUTH
And throw away those filthy cans.

ARTICLE 22″ THE MOVIE. And this is how the script had been implemented from a film directing perspective.

Article 22 short film by Georgia Mihalcea

… and here is the hilarious behind the serious :)

Article 22 short film on set (moments from the production)

If you liked “Article 22” storyline, you may also want to watch something totally different, my 2021 dramedy featurette “The Locationist” and its making-of documentary, two stories that intertwine and meet in a 2-hour experience meant to help us feel hope and the joy of life 😊

Excerpt from the making-of documentary

Excerpt from the film production documentary of The Locationist 2021 dramedy

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