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Student short film explores unifying desperation of waiting in line for the bathroom

Changhui Shi (left), graduate student in fine arts Paloma López (center) and fourth-year film student Catho D’Souza (right) all worked on the six-minute short film “Pee,” which follows a shy girl at a warehouse rave who goes to desperate measures to find a place to use the bathroom. D’Souza said the film presents the nuances of human desperation. (Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin)

By Aaron Untiveros

Feb. 23, 2020 10:11 p.m.

Nothing is more terrifying than a full bladder and a long line to pee.

Directed by graduate student in fine arts Paloma López, the six-minute film “Pee” highlights the uncomfortable social situation through Maya, a shy girl who needs to pee during a warehouse rave event. Throughout the six minutes, Maya becomes increasingly desperate by doing what it takes to get to the front of the line. The film was shot over a single weekend and will be showcased at the end of spring quarter along with other works created by students of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Co-producer Catho D’Souza, a fourth-year film student, said she particularly resonated with the film’s themes of desperation.

“I think it’s really relatable because we’ve all been there and because it has a message of morality to it,” D’Souza said. “To what lengths would you go to get what you want?”

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(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin)

Maya, the protagonist, portrayed by Clara Jacobs, develops from a lawful individual to an almost unrecognizable character as she loses both her principles and her ability to hold her bladder, López said. Interactions such as kissing strangers, paying people in line and even breaking social norms by not letting a pregnant woman go first are examples of the loss of integrity Maya brings upon herself to communicate the level of desperation. The storyline might seem unrealistic, but López said it was inspired by real events and experiences she had at a warehouse rave party over last winter break.

[Related: Love spells trouble for queer characters in student film about love’s trials]

During the party, López’s girlfriend had to pee, but with such a long line for the restroom, they decided to craft a story about her being pregnant, López said. Using the story, she said they were able to successfully cut the line. After the theatrics to get to the front of the line, López’s experience stuck with her and soon became her inspiration for “Pee.”

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(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin)

Similar to the real events, “Pee” introduces many secondary characters Maya confronts during her mission to the front of the line. López’s previous projects did not include as many characters, and she said it was a challenge to make each one stand out. Producer Changhui Shi said she felt pulled to López’s project given how she is able to capture the dynamics of interpersonal interactions.

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Changhui Shi, graduate student in fine arts student Paloma López and fourth-year film student Catho D’Souza all worked on the six-minute short film “PEE,” which follows a shy girl at a warehouse rave who goes to desperate measures to find a place to use the bathroom. D’Souza said the film presents the nuances of human desperation. (Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin)

“In this story, (López) was able to capture another moment in life that everyone experienced,” Shi said. “The moments are so rich and full in that short period of time.”

[Related: Drag queen protagonist takes on horror genre in student film festival submission]

Together with Shi and D’Souza, López said she edited her script to communicate her vision in subtle ways throughout the film, focusing particularly on the smaller interactions between characters. She said audiences are more likely to resonate with a film should the secondary characters feel just as complex as the main character. Therefore, she stressed the importance of each person having their own perspective and personality.

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(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin)

López said she worried that from the protagonist’s perspective, the characters Maya encounters could easily be seen as insensitive. However, she said by giving them balanced screen time, audiences will still be able to sympathize with these characters who are struggling with a common experience. Centering “Pee” around a basic human need provided López the chance to conduct an in-depth exploration of how far people can be pushed to satisfy this necessary routine. At the end of the six minutes, she said she hopes viewers will not only see but also experience that very same desperation to pee.

“What was really fun was to try to capture this violent necessity and communicate that,” López said. “Hopefully when we watch it, we’ll be very stressed out throughout the whole thing.”

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Aaron Untiveros
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