Stripped Away

heavenly shades of night are falling
it's twilight time.
out of the mist your voice is calling
'tis twilight time.
as purple-colored curtains mark the end of day
i'll hear you, my dear, at twilight time.

deepening shadows gather splendor
as day is done.
fingers of night will soon surrender
the setting sun.
i count the moments, darling, 'til you're here with me
together, at last, at twilight time.

Starring Richard T. Havens as Hank Harrison
Cori Haisler as Emily
Marcus Phillips as Daniel
with Jamie "Reoke" Odum as Deirdre/First Soul, Harry Pottash as Lucky Xenon/Second Soul, John McCulloch as Jacques the Monkey/Soul, Garrett Gilchrist as Mystico/Slime Monster/God/Soul (Larry), Jonathan Block, Rob Keith, Sean Carr, Matt Hawn.

18 min., 2001. Written, directed and drawn by Garrett Gilchrist.
Producer and assistant director, Jonathan Block.
(Lyrics from "Twilight Time," by The Platters.)

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The fourth, and generally regarded as the best, of the five DV student films Garrett completed in his first semester at USC's film school is "Stripped Away." The film shows the final thoughts of a dying cartoonist (60-year-old Richard Havens, in his first film role), as he tries, with the help of a mysterious young woman (Cori Haisler), to come to grips with himself, and the memories of a life that didn't always work out the way he wanted it to.

The emotions of the film are punctuated by sketches and animation, created by director Garrett Gilchrist on a strict deadline (the film had to be shot in a weekend). The animated sequence where the characters of Lucky Xenon talk to Hank was almost cut, then quickly created in just an hour before the camera had to be returned. Former truckdriver and late-blooming stage actor Richard T. Havens was an artist himself - it is his studio apartment you see in the film, and his art adorns the walls. Director Garrett Gilchrist is (as you've likely guessed), a cartoonist himself, and his own experiences and love for the profession, shine through in the film (a drama, very rare for Orange Cow, especially at the time). Garrett is the son of syndicated cartoonist Guy Gilchrist (The Muppets, Nancy, Night Lights and Pillow Fights).

Because this film is owned by USC, it cannot be shown at or entered in film festivals. However, while attending the 2001 Rewind Video Awards in Rapid City, South Dakota, Garrett showed the film unofficially to a few friends and judges. It went over very well and even recieved honorary nominations for Best Actor [Richard T. Havens] and Best Actress [Cori Haisler]. But it wasn't shown at the fest itself.

Fun Facts:
The working title was "See You in the Funny Pages."
Hank imagines a funeral attended by famous cartoon characters: Krazy Kat and Ignatz, Pogo Possum and Albert Alligator, Calvin and Hobbes (three of the director's all-time favorite strips). The film ends with a quote by "Calvin and Hobbes" creator Bill Watterson.
Daniel's t-shirt says "I'm not a tourist, I live here."
Garrett reprises his role as Larry from "The Animal Game" (1999).
Matt Hawn reprises his role as Roddy from "Legend of the Lazy Fighters" (2001). The girl behind him is Cori Haisler.
The "God" effect was reused with minor changes in "Excaliburger" (2000, released 2001).
There are more edits and dissolves on the sound track than there are picture edits. All sound was done with just the mic on the camera.
Lucky Xenon and Deirdre first appeared in Garrett's play "Easier Than Thinking" (1999), as characters on a tv show created by "Ian Leonard." They first appeared in comic strip form in installment 13 of Garrett's USC comic strip "The Sugarhigh Crusade" (2000, also credited to "Ian Leonard" and called "Lucky Xenon and the Black Hole Battlers"). A revised version of that comic strip is seen in the film. The original of this strip was given to star Richard Havens as a gift just after shooting completed.

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see all "Hank Harrison's" artwork in
"The Art of Stripped Away"

"The best work of Garrett's I've seen thus far. ... I was kind of surprised to see this dramatic effort from Garrett, it really worked. It was very well done. Not much more can be said about that. Had some technical issues, but they are easily overlooked. ... Garrett has opened his heart and his mind in this film and that courage should be celebrated. With this film there is an interesting and original message, which is refreshing. It's not a standard scream horror movie that has a chick in her bra as it's only asset of quality, it's not about a guy with a gun pointing a gun at another guy with a gun, who's pointing a gun at another guy with a gun, it's about humanity and the intricacies of the emotional thought process, and that was nice to see - though it wasn't too pretentious or self indulgent as dramatic student works often are." - Mike Stoklasa, GMP Pictures

"Stripped Away should be shown, if not for the fact that it's just damn good, to show people that the dramatic narrative can be done and include some interesting ideas not normally found in most dramas." - Mike Branum, Hoopty Studios

"I loved Garrett's "Stripped Away" and I feel it's one of the best amateur works I've seen." - Jason Santo, Mindscape Pictures

"Probably Garrett Gilchrist's best movie to date. STRIPPED AWAY features Cori Haisler, an actress with great potential that I hope to see more of in the future. She makes the movie successful. Had Gilchrist had someone else in the role, I don't think the movie would be as good as it is. She's like Julia Roberts in a way, in that you really can't help loving her in a movie.

Gilchrist has also managed something that's very difficult without a dedicated cast and crew: making a drama actually dramatic. Garrett also gets to showcase his talent as a cartoonist/animator with STRIPPED AWAY. The drawings throughout give the movie a lot of its emotion when the lead actor falters.

The movie begins as we find a comic strip artist having a heart attack. He is joined by a young woman who is there to act as his guide into the afterlife. The man is reluctant to go with the woman, and he proceeds to talk to the woman about his life, and how he wasn't a good person. Unfortunately, the male lead of the movie doesn't hold a candle to Haisler, and really stuggles in the beginning of the movie. By the end, you're used to him, I guess, unless he really does get better. The voice over work is really good. The cartoon voices sound like professional cartoon voices. Garrett has a great skill for doing voices.

STRIPPED AWAY is a great accomplishment. It is extremely original and wonderfully executed. I only hope Garrett can continue to build on the quality that STRIPPED AWAY possesses."

- John Simpson, the Amateur Movie Database

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