As a century of film, TV, and personal experience has taught us, adolescence is fraught with nerves, hormones, and crush-inspired flop sweats. How we deal with this physical and emotional transition to adulthood is often hilarious awkward. And in this new short film The Board, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, we get an in-depth look at one young man’s rather corporate approach to talking to girls.
Set in an undetermined, yet obviously pre-social media and smartphone era, the film introduces us to Evan and how he uses a board to map out potential conversations with girls. It’s like SWOT analysis for puberty.
Directed by David Shane, who has directed some of the funniest commercials of the last 20 years, it’s an awkward, hilarious, nostalgic look at how often our obsession with results and organization can get in the way of personality and the truth. It’s also amazingly based on Shane’s own system for talking to girls when he was growing up.
“This one is autobiographical, unfortunately,” says Shane. “Whenever I got up enough nerve to actually call a girl, I would fill up post-it notes with ‘interesting thoughts’ and ‘witty jokes’ for every conceivable topic that I thought might come up, which is as moronic as it sounds and of course it never worked. The conversation would always go to an unexpected place inside of like, 30 seconds.”
Another goal of the film was to convey that pent up anxiety and excitement of making that call, to a generation that now can hide these emotions behind a quick text.
“In many ways, the story probably wouldn’t work as well today,” says Shane. “It’s too easy to send a text saying ‘Sup?’ I’m sure it’s still pretty fraught, but there was maybe more psychic energy expended trying to will yourself to make the call back then.”
Shane has said in the past that two important qualities to any funny story were finding the comedic friction, and always looking for opportunities to work the subtext. “The comedic friction here is really between Evan’s idealized self and his actual self, and she’s sort of a spectator to that friction,” says Shane. “His constant subtext is ‘fuuuuuck.’ If you look at a line like, ‘I’m just having a conversation about God … and Agnosticism,’ he’s really saying, ‘I’m so going down in flames here.’”
Check out the full film and thank the glorious tech gods you can now start conversations with an emoji.