BOX MAN is a short, 3-5 minute absurdist dramatic-comedy film piece, accompanied by a social media campaign, which serves as an allegory for the arbitrary and unjust system of restricting higher education to only those who can afford it. As well as highlighting the numerous barriers that stand in the way of education, BOX MAN also explores the vicious cycle that arises from it, where those who are unable to afford a proper post secondary education are in turn unable to support their kin through the same system, further widening this gap generation from generation.
In BOX MAN, there are two main characters. Elliot, a young man who lives in a literal box, unable to escape and make a life for himself, and the Man, who despite easily being able to free Elliot, chooses not to as he believes Elliot should “work for these things himself”. The cardboard box which Elliot lives in serves as a symbol for the restrictions that a life without education brings, while the Man serves as a symbol for the lack of student funding and opportunity given to those of a lower economic class.
The absurdity of the situation, the Man refusing to free Elliot, serves to highlight the arbitrary nature of the very real system so many of us live under. As well, by acting as a comedy, BOX MAN aims to connect more empathetically with the audience, which will be contrasted by the sudden serious and dramatic tone of the film’s final monologue. By investing the audience more heavily from the very beginning, BOX MAN will directly challenge the viewer’s preconceptions regarding our system of education.
Intended impact and outcome of the project
With BOX MAN, I aim to get the audience to question the validity of a system many have accepted as natural, one where education is granted only to those with the means to pay for it. The absurdity and injustice of the Man refusing to free Elliot from his box mirrors the absurdity of refusing education due to economic class. By the end of the short, the audience should link the arbitrary refusal of the Man with the arbitrary refusal of education, and question when and why wealth became a prerequisite for knowledge. At it’s core, BOX MAN is a comedy. This means that, although the piece does ask the viewers to question established systems, it does so while still remaining easily digestible to those viewing it, making the message more likely to reach and start a conversation with an audience.
Genki Ferguson is a Japanese-Canadian multimedia artist, predominantly working in film and photography. He has completed multiple screenplays and photography works, and often explores themes of double identity, surrealism, and humanity in his pieces. His previous works include the sound installation BRUCE’S VERY INCREDIBLE VERY STRANGE DAY, which explored horror and identity in an eerily familiar world, and the photo essay NOH, which captured images of people between expressions.
My Education Story
As someone who has recently started post secondary education, I have experienced firsthand many of the challenges that come with student living, especially in a city as infamously expensive as Vancouver. Since I graduated from High School with honors, am bilingual, received an offer of early admission, and was entering as a mature student, I assumed that I would be able to secure some scholarships to help alleviate the financial burden of starting University. What I soon found, however, is that there were shockingly few options for funding available. So few in fact, that the only scholarship I was able to attain was from outside of BC, in my home province of Alberta. Now, with very little funding from scholarships that were available to previous generations, I am finding it difficult to continue my pursuit of education within the University itself, due to the expensive nature of film and photography. I am hoping that, with the funding from this contest, I could both further expand my practice with the creation of a short film, while also spreading awareness towards this issue which not only affects me, but countless others throughout BC.
It is no secret that youth shape the future. It is also no secret that education is the most valuable resource available to us, it allows countless doors to be opened and for countless opportunities to present themselves. Why is it then, that when it comes to education, it is the youth that are so frequently left to fend for themselves? Every year countless students find it increasingly difficult to afford their pursuit of a higher education. Funding gets smaller, tuition and school fees increase, all while the importance of an education only grows. By cutting out an entire group of youth unable to pay these costs, an entire voice gets cut out of the future.
This isn’t just the problem of a generation, however, but the problem of the generation after that, and the generation after that. This system of raising obstacles in front of the pursuit of knowledge creates a vicious cycle. Those who couldn’t afford an education in their youth are unable to support their children through the same system.
In order to push our world toward a more optimistic future, we need to make changes. However, these changes can only be accomplished by removing as many barriers as possible in front of education. I hope the pieces this year and the voices of my peers help you realize this.