Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Film and Media Studies | Radio | Television
The concept behind my capstone project was to creative a narrative in which a seemingly apathetic, appropriately disgruntled, teenager is propelled to social activity which will not only benefit himself personally, but his overall community. In order to do so, I set to develop a short-story narrative, entitled “The Pickle Jar,” and then adapt it into a screenplay.
In writing the short story, I set to narrate the drama and provide insight into Neil’s psyche through first-person dialogue. Neil would narrate the drama while allowing the reader to hear his inner-thoughts and opinions throughout the process. The plot would follow Neil throughout the course of a very unusual day. Half-way through a regular day at school, Neil is given the dreadful news that his grandfather had passed away and his mother would be coming to school to pick him up. With his emotions racing, Neil decided to leave school and run to his grandfather’s house for closure and an opportunity to escape, to be alone and think. While there, he discovers a cryptic note which tells him he is to discover what his grandfather intends him to inherit once he finds a particular item, hidden in a place very special to his grandfather. With no general direction, Neil searches the locations where he spent the most time with his grandfather growing up, but fins nothing. Upon returning home, he is presented with a collection of sympathy cards from a group of ill-fated children at the Parkway Children’s hospital. Following the cards, he goes to the hospital where he is presented with a pickle jar. As it turns out, his grandfather had been volunteering at the children’s ward, and wants Neil to take over his position. The pickle jar was intended to symbolize Neil’s bitter nature and pressurized environment he is currently living in.
Initially, the screenplay paralleled the short-story narrative. Upon presenting the first draft to my reader and advisor, we determined it best to rework the story and truly discover the intended message of my creation. What I determined was my capstone should represent my ideology toward bitterness in our society. Basically, it’s come down to this- Being sour, or cynical, throughout life appears to be a brutally painful way of living. I argue though that the bitterness is wonderful and a necessary step toward progress. The aggravated nature of the protagonist, through his unconventional insights on various situations, becomes a positive characteristic as we learn his internal struggles with seemingly trite activities are rooted with compassion toward all forms of life. This is ultimately what “The Pickle Jar” story needs to convey.
The restructured outline would have Neil making a promise to his grandfather the night he passes away. Just before dying, his grandfather would ask Neil to visit the 6th floor of the Parkway Hospital and find a nurse named Myra, the following morning. Although this conflicts with his grandfather’s funeral, Neil disobeys his parents in order to fulfill the promise he made to his grandfather the night before.
As it stands now, the project accomplishes the manifestation of my original sentiments in an open-ended and unconventional narrative structure. If produced, the short film would work best if paired with follow-up activities in which ideas about taking initiative toward giving back to one’s community would be discussed and put into action.
Hetzron, Robert, "Pickle Jarred" (2009). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 440.
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