Jetting Around in a surrealist short film

| October 27, 2013 | 26 Comments More

When a friend invited me to participate in his Halloween video, I jumped right in. I liked the idea of shooting downtown Chicago and acting for the first time since college. Here’s what the experience was like.

“People will be looking at us weird. You OK with that?” Tony asked when we were discussing the project. “I danced in the streets of Krakow while my niece was taking pictures. I think I can handle this,” I replied, amused. I had seen his costume. I knew we’d attract attention. But that was part of the appeal.


Patrick, Strangely Beautiful is about a man who is “different than other people,” which often leaves him feeling misunderstood and lonely. One day he meets a woman who seems curious about him without being judgmental. Could her interest in him be genuine? Could Patrick be accepted, even loved, for who he is?

Tony had specific ideas for presenting the story. He wanted to create a dream-like sequence using relatively little dialog, but strong visuals that would convey Patrick’s otherness. He had selected Chicago’s Millennium Park for the shoot, given the unique sculptures that can be found there (such as the reflective Cloud Gate and Jun Kaneko’s colorful ceramic figures). And he would wear a green mask and head piece – his Halloween costume that inspired the short film.

My role in the project was dual: photography and co-starring.

The Bean Chicago

Cloud Gate a.k.a. The Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park, the site of our video shoot


Millennium Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions downtown, so we were not surprised to catch the attention of passers-by. Many watched, some noticed us once they walked into the frame, and a few took pictures. There were several that wanted to know what we were doing and what the mask was about. Once we mentioned Halloween, they got it.

We used basic equipment: an iPhone, tripod, and microphone. Our focus was not so much on the clarity of the picture, as it was on finding the right backdrop and angles. It was fun to look at a familiar place from a new perspective and notice different elements: tunnels, latest art installations, the color and positioning of benches.

The other part I enjoyed was trying to say the lines the way Tony had thought of them in his head. It reminded me of working on a play with my college drama teacher. A nice flashback.


Here’s the finished video, edited by Tony and with his original musical score.

YouTube Preview Image

What do you think? How do you interpret the ending? Leave a comment below!

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Category: BLOG, On the Road


About the Author (Author Profile)

Pola Henderson is the founder and editor of Jetting Around. She grew up in Krakow, Poland, lived in North Africa, and has called Chicago home since 2002. Traveling internationally has been a part of her life since she was 3 years old. When she isn't busy running her company JA Media, Pola ventures out to explore cities and their culture. View more...

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  1. avatar lorrie says:

    interesting video kinda creepy but its near Halloween so it had the right effect

  2. When I first saw the film at the JA anniversary party, I wasn’t sure what to think. But now I’ve seen it a few times and it’s growing on me :-)
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  3. This is pretty cool. I like your acting too! The film was “strangely beautiful.” ;)
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  4. avatar Brian says:

    This looks like it was a very fun project to do!
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  5. Pola Pola Pola… this is slightly different ;) go girl!

  6. avatar Romy says:

    :D Halloween is not my cup of tea but you’re awesome, Pola! Love it.

  7. A star is born! La Pola!! Eye-catching piece for sure – great score.
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  8. avatar Josie says:

    Hi Pola,
    This reminds me of some pieces we experimented with in the 60’s and 70’s — exploring one moment in time.

    I like the concept and see the ending as a symbol of Patrick “letting the light in” to his mask. In other words, letting you in. I see the ending as optimistic.

    His original score is moody, which I like. And of course, you’re stunning, my dear!

    I love that you participated in this fun experiment.
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    • Hi Josie. Thank you for this wonderful comment and sharing your thoughts about the film! I really like your interpretation of the ending (you’re the second person to tell me it’s optimistic) and I’m happy to know about your past film experiments – didn’t expect that in the review. Very cool!

    • avatar Tony Marsh says:

      Josie, I appreciate your thoughtful comment!

  9. I was so thrilled to see the exciting premier of this soon to be epic surrealistic thriller.
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  10. avatar Charu says:

    Spooky and surreal indeed. I found it fascinating. And your ‘interview’ questions were great.
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  11. avatar Karl says:

    Different, and I like different – thumbs up :)
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