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SKIN

A 2nd year AFI 35mm MOS short film 

Skin is a visual metaphore that portrays the processes of transitiong from female to male. The essence of the story is about  letting go of who you think you have to be, so that you can unfold who you truly are. 

I believe the story will be relatedable to most people, regardless or age, sexuality or gender. At the core, we all go through internal or external transformations. We discover new parts of ourselves, or we are at times confronted to deal with old belifsystems or identinites that no longer serve us, to become a better version of ourselves, reagdless of the pain that may come along. 

PLOT

A woman wakes up, noticing that her skin is cracking up on her body. She walks up to a mirror to take a look, and realizes that pieces of her facial skin is coming off. She starts peeling the skin, and slowly discovers that there are another face behind her own skin.

 

Simultaneously, a man is waking up. He is covered in ice and snow, that is melting away. He walks up to to a mirror that is on the other side of the woman’s room. The woman is scared, as she is not sure of what is happening to her. The man reaches out to her from the other side, through the mirror, and helps her peel the rest of the skin off, comforting her in the process. 

When her skin is completely peeled off, it is revealed that the woman and the man on the other side of the mirror is one and the same person. The mirror closes, and he goes back to his bed, content in his new self. 

Symbolism

The thought behind this kind of world and setup comes from the idea that we all have sides of ourselves that we neglect. We can hide parts of ourselves for a very long time, but at some point, life comes knocking on our door, telling us that we are ready to move on.
There is something interesting about our skin. From a symbolic perspective, to me, skin represents the barrier that seperate the inside and the outside. Who we feel we come out on the outside, may not always be who we feel we are on the inside. 

The man in the ice room behind the mirror represents a part of herself she has buried and hidden. When we choose to not deal with something, doesn't mean it will be gone. "The ice" will melt at some point, and you will have to face what ever you put away.

 

The peeling of the woman's skin, is a symbolism and sign that she has grown out of her old skin. Parts of her are ready to unfold. Her new self is ready to unfold, but she does have resistance.  

Production Design

There are two seperate worlds on each side of the mirror. 


The room in the "real world" with the female character, will look abandoned. The wall paper is falling off, like her peeled skin. The furnitures will look old, and the room will be filled by dust. 

The ice room with the male character will have lots of ice elements. He lays in an ice case, that will be built by using plexiglass and artificial ice. There will be snow falling as well, in some of the shots. 

An American Film Institute Production 

AFI was rated as the number #1 Film School in the country by Hollywood Reporter in 2022, and the acceptance rate is less than 1%. Behind them, they have alumni's such as Ari Aster, Patty Jenkins, Rachel Morrison, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky etc. 

 

"The Visual Essay at the AFI Conservatory is shot on 35mm film. Graduating AFI Cinematographers use it as their industry calling card.  The film will be presented at the AFI Cinematography Showcase and submitted to festivals worldwide. These films provide strong, cinematic footage".

You can get a sense of what these films look like by watching the video below. 

Casting Call

We are looking for a trans male actor, that will play both the female and the male. 

We will use make up, prosthetics and costumes to for both characters. 

The male character will be having snow elements attached to his skin and he will preferably be shirtless. For the female character we will be using make up, fake skin and prosthetic to feminize their face.

 

These are the features we are looking for: 

Preferably have beard or the ability to grow beard 

Similarly, being ok with shaving your beard 

- Ideally have top surgery scars

- Can not be too muscular  

- No allergies to Latex

- No previous acting experience required

 - Must be over 18 years old

Shooting dates: March 3rd and 4th 

Location: North Hollywood, Los Angeles

Core Team

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Leo Behrens 

Director & Cinematographer 

Instagram: dp_leobehrens

email: lbehrens@afi.edu

phone: 213 588 5591

To see my previous work, click here

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Alejandra Armijo 

Editor

Instagram: alearmiijo

email: aarmijo@afi.edu

Ilayda Cetinkaya 

Producer

Instagram: ilayda.cetink

email: icetinkaya@afi.edu

phone: 310 418 8285

Website: laydacetinkaya.com

Mojo Wen

Production Designer

Instagram: mojo4magic

email: mwen@afi.edu

Director's Statement 

I transitioned from female to male in 2011. The journey has been a long, and at times, a painful process, but not without rewards. Going through these changes has given me deep insights to myself, and I have become a better version of myself. At the start of my transition, I was obsessed  with fitting in the society's expectations  of what it means to be a man. The past 5-6 years, I have freed myself from external opinions, which led to a deeper peace within. One of the discoveries I made, is the realization that ultimately it is not about gender, but finding the right expression (costume) that reflects who I am on the inside.

I am a big advocate for LGBTQ representations in film and TV, in front and behind the camera. Although we have come a long way, there is still more to be done to achieve that goal. One of my goals with this project, and as a Cinematographer, is to be a part of making that change.
Through my research for SKIN, I found very little (abstract) art about transitioning. I did found multiple paintings, illustraion and videos with a political angle, but very little that portrays the beauty of transitioning. With this project, I hope to bring in a new perspective, and have the audience witness this process from a completely new angle. 

* All reference photos was found on Pinterest, and I do not have copy right to any of these images.

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