Some children fantasize about getting super smart from eating a single peace of candy. “Smartie Pants,” an original film by Michael Kontaxis ’11, makes this wish a reality.
Screened in Kemper Auditorium last Friday, the film creates magic on the big screen, distinguishing the good and bad effects of super intellectualism while remaining accesible to the audience through its candy-symbolism and approachable protagonist, Adam Darcey.
Kontaxis’s younger brother, Christian, stars as Adam Darcey, the protagonist of “Smartie Pants.”
The film begins with a man chasing Darcey in the desert. The scene intesifies when the mysterious man targets him with explosive pencils, which Darcey, clad in armor, manages to deflect.
After a brief struggle, Darcey shoots the man, a scene that triggered laughter from the audience at Friday’s screening.
As he roams the desert, Darcey later finds a treasure chest filled with all sorts of candy.
Just as he celebrates his find, the man reappears, and Darcey awakens from his dream to find himself back in his math class.
It’s the day of Halloween, and later that night, after scenes of candy madness, Darcey and his friends arrive at the house of a mentally challenged man. Only Darcey dares to enter.
In the house, Darcey finds the building’s sole resident sitting in his wheelchair in front of a silver tray half filled with Sweethearts and half with Smarties.
As Darcey reaches out for a pack of Smarties, a glob of drool lands on his hand, frightening Darcey so badly that he sprints out of the house.
After celebrating their success by stuffing themselves with candy, Darcey tries to finish his math homework but becomes frustrated and reaches for the pack of Smarties.
As soon as he swallows the first piece, his math homework magically became easy.
The film zooms forward to when Darcey graduates from college, though he is still his 10-year-old self.
Once again, he is back in the desert, this time being confronted by a pair of other college graduates.
Darcey is able to overcome them, and, by grabbing a bag in the distance, he transports forward a year, in which he is now the owner of his company, “Adam Inc.”
Though only 10-years-old, Darcey acts precisely like an adult. However, he is alone and even rejects his old friends with whom he had trick-or-treated when they try to surprise him to celebrate his success.
As he grows frustrated with the negative impact of the magic Smarties, Darcey prepares to throw them away in the desert. Just as he is about to chuck them into oblivion, he spots a Lifesaver at the bottom of the pack and eats it.
The Lifesaver takes him back to the house of the mentally challenged man, where he chooses the Sweethearts instead of the Smarties.
As he exits the house with his pack of drool-covered Sweethearts, his friends inquire “Was it worth it?” and Adam just smiles, leaving Friday’s audience in awe and Kemper thundering with enthusiastic applause.
The inspiration for this film came from a question.
“At the core, my narrative short films are morality tales. I focused on a specific sub-category of pride, intellectual egotism and developed a story around it based on the premise ‘what if Smarties actually made you smarter?’” Kontaxis explained.
He continued, “Once I realized that I wanted to do a character study of a person who becomes self-imprisoned within his own chamber of intellectual isolation and formulated a basic premise, the rest came naturally over the course of about a month or so through various drafts and rewrites.”
Although the writing took only a month, the actual filmmaking process was a long journey. Kontaxis started writing and filming the movie last summer and later edited the film as an independent project.
Kontaxis carefully planned out the entire film, ensuring its high quality. He said in an email to The Phillipian that it took “one month to write, two weeks to plan, one week to film, two months to edit.”
As opposed to casting an experienced actor for the part of Adam Darcey, Kontaxis said, “I essentially wrote the part of Adam Darcey for my brother. As for the rest of the cast, I used anyone I could get a hold of who was available for a few hours, ranging from my middle school English teacher to my grandma and my dad’s hospital [co-workers]… I even threw myself in a scene last minute when a Craigslist extra didn’t show up.”
With time and effort, Kontaxis artfully created an original film that captivates its audience, unveiling the unexpected in an enticing and imaginative way.