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Jun 24, 2016 7:20 PM ET

Archived: Wyrm – a USC Thesis Film about loneliness and kissing and puberty and falling behind

iCrowdNewswire - Jun 24, 2016

Wyrm – a USC Thesis Film

by Faissal Sam Shaib


Wyrm - a USC Thesis Film project video thumbnail


Wyrm is a USC School of Cinematic Arts M.F.A. Graduate thesis film about loneliness and kissing and puberty and falling behind.


About this project

Head to wyrmsworld.com or follow us on Facebook for more information!


…is falling behind.

It is 1995. His twin sister, Myrcella, has become a woman after she and Mads Nillson did second base at the cinemas.

Wyrm has six days to secure his first kiss or his My.E.Q. Remote Monitoring Collar, which the school district uses to monitor children’s emotional and sexual developments, will be left on and he’ll be placed in the remedial learning program as part of the No Child Left Alone Program.

Wyrm takes place in an alternate reality, retro-future 1990’s at the birth of the Internet age. Computers will replace humans soon, and the widespread implementation of statistics has led to incredible progress in tracking and guiding childhood development.

Can Wyrm find connection in this perfectly rational, pragmatically disconnected world? Or will Myrcella and his peers leave him behind?


I believe movies can either be compressive or expansive. You can take an entire universe filled with monsters and superheroes and giant robots and squeeze them into two hours on a single screen. Or, movies can expand moments insignificant to the universe at large and blow them up to cover the audience’s field of view, to transport you into another’s perspective, to project the magnitude of the miniscule. 

The universe will never care. The miracle is that we do.

These are the types of stories I want to tell, and I want to begin with Wyrm.



Christopher Winterbauer was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He very much misses the rain. He studied Economics at Stanford University and then moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked at Intel Corporation in a variety of corporate finance roles, from Budgets & Planning to Profit & Loss Analysis.

In 2014, Chris decided to forego an anxiety riddled, risk-ridden career in corporate finance in lieu of a sure shot at stardom and millions working in the film industry. He enrolled in USC’s MFA in Film & Television Production program in September of 2014 and is set to graduate in June of 2017.

He recently launched a small production company, Oddly Specific Media, which provides off-beat branded content for small and medium sized businesses looking for clever and innovative storytelling to help bring their brands to life. Chris’ most recent narrative short, The Sister I Live With, screened in competition at the Austin Film Festival and HollyShorts Film Festival. His most recent documentary short, The Unclaimed, won the Jury Special Mention Award at the 2nd Asia University Film Festival in Pusan, South Korea, and the Gold Award at the 5th Shanghai University Student Film Competition in Shanghai, China.


Faissal Sam Shaib was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon to a multi-ethnic family. At age 14, Sam started writing and directing school plays and short films. He moved to the United States at the age of 18 in hopes of pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Sam received his Bachelor’s Degree Summa Cum Laude from Miami International University where he majored in Film and Digital Production. 

Sam has written, directed and produced multiple short films tackling myriad social issues, including Pro-Life, Almsgiver, and the multi-award-wining Cant and For Family’s Sake. He has also written for the Saudi Arabian television program, Bain Al Wilayat, which aired on El Ekhbariya news channel in 2006. 

Sam also co-directed and co-produced a reality show pilot, “Nothing Less Than Stunning.” Sam worked on an International feature film Mahbas 2016 as a story consultant. In summer 2015 Sam worked on a web-series as production manager and first assistant director for a New York production company MGF & Co. He is currently a film and television production MFA candidate at the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts.


Heyjin Jun was born and raised in a part of the Korean countryside where there wasn’t a single movie theater. Beginning in third grade, she would spend weekends with her parents volunteering at facilities for the destitute and neglected, playing the violin for people who had never heard Western classical music, and giving the elderly massages to ease their pain. While spending time with these people, they would often tell her their unique and personal stories, often of suffering and struggle. When she came to America at age 21, she was quickly struck by the social impact a single film can have, and started dreaming of telling the stories of people who have been forgotten by the rest of the world. 

Heyjin studied at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, which accelerated her experiences in narrative storytelling. She graduated from the program Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. To pursue her goal, creating films that propel her audience to be moved to take action and help transform hopelessness into hope and apathy into empathy, she is currently studying in MFA program at the USC school of Cinematic Arts. Her ultimate goal is to become a stepping-stone, linking people in need to the rest of the world through her films.

Production Designer

Maren H. Jensen is a Los Angeles based Production Designer, Writer, and Director with credits across film, television, and commercial platforms. She is a graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University as well as the Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU). She has a background in fine arts as well as theatrical costume design. Maren is a passionate advocate of Women In Film and hopes to continue collaborating on projects which focus on topics of gender, sexuality, and the social consciousness of the aforementioned. She is currently earning her MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California – School of Cinematic Arts.

Art Direction 

Derek Tonks was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area and has always been obsessed with filmmaking. Working at Red Studios Hollywood was his first major professional opportunity to combine his love for character/creature effects and filmmaking. Derek worked as head of the Special Makeup Effects at Red Studios and was a camp counselor for their annual film summer camp, where he collaborated with artists to create over 15 short films in just two weeks. 

After Red studios, Derek moved on to work at Spectral Motion Studios on a number of projects as a special effects artist and animatronics mechanic. His favorite project he worked on at Spectral Motion was the SyFy television series Robot Combat League, for which he was a part of an eight person team dedicated to building six, 10-foot hydraulic fighting robots. Currently, Derek attends the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, pursuing a degree in Film and Television Production. His passion for art, storytelling, and filmmaking join together to fuel his ventures in the world of cinema.


David Boman has completed original scores and audio-post production for dozens of short films, commercial/promotional videos, web series and other visual media. A life-long student of film music and sound design, David was formally educated in audio engineering and post-production as a student at the University of Washington in Seattle before moving to Los Angeles. After moving to LA he continued his education at UCLA extension’s film-scoring program until acquiring a position assisting Grammy award-winning producer and film composer Dan Romer. Recent and upcoming credits include his role as an audio engineer on two Sundance documentary films, and as a musician on a not yet released Netflix original series.


 Nicholas Manting Brewer is a documentary and narrative editor who hopes to explore diversity through collaborating with directors from around the world to share a broader spectrum of the human experience. He is an MFA Production Student at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. In 2015, Nicholas came to USC to continue his education as a documentary filmmaker. He holds an honors degree from New College of Florida in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on Ethnographic Filmmaking in the Digital Age. His research interests include social documentary, visual anthropology, and virtual reality.


Chris Morocco was born and raised in the Bay Area, CA. He began his journey as a filmmaker at the age of 8 years old, filming behind the scenes footage of his pyro-technician father on professional TV and Film sets. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from St. Mary’s College High School, Chris went on to San Francisco State University to pursue audio/video Production, and obtained a BA in Radio & TV Production. While completing his undergraduate degree, Chris started his multimedia company called Movements in Media. Shortly after, Chris co-produced his first music video with his friend, Ryan Coogler. 

While cranking out music videos for local musicians, Chris began to acquire clients in Southern California, and each project began to look and feel more like a film with a story. To learn more about the film, and movie production, Chris applied to graduate school for cinema at the University Of Southern California and was accepted. Chris spent three years dedicating his education to Film and TV production, focusing his efforts on production sound recording, sound editing, and post production sound mixing. Chris graduated, Cum Laude, with his MFA from USC in the spring of 2016, and currently works full-time recording, editing, and mixing sound on both fiction and non-fiction films.


Risks and challenges

Wyrm’s world is unique and exciting. It is set in the 90’s and thus the set decoration, wardrobe, props, and artwork all must be true to the period, and we can’t do any of that without your help.

We’ve assembled an incredible crew to bring this script to life, but we’re only halfway there. Here’s what your generous donations will be put toward:

Locations: In order to create the retro-future aesthetic the script calls for, we need to use a mid-century modernist home, of which there are fortunately many in Los Angeles, but are in high demand.

Food: This crew is made up of students and volunteers, working nonstop for 12 1/2 hour filming days. Hence, we need them nourished and energized to continue being excited to work on this film.

Props and Wardrobe: We are building original props and set dressing from scratch, creating the off-beat objects that will fill the frame and build this world. We are staying true to to the 90’s fashion wave, as well, and will be digging into the depths of light up sneakers, wide leg pants, and hoodies around the waist.

Studio teachers: We will be dealing with underage talents that restrain us to only 8 hours shooting days and require a studio teacher by state laws. More days, more money and more problems but we are ready to face any challenges.

Every film is a hugely collaborative process. Without each and every of these components, the film would not be achieved. We have an incredibly talented and dedicated team, however in order to successfully bring Wyrm to life, we need your help. We look forward to have you join our team and appreciate any amount of help you can provide! Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for updates!

Contact Information:

Faissal Sam Shaib

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