Shadows In Mind
An inexperienced crisis hotline counselor gets more than he bargained for when a young man calls threatening to murder three people before killing himself.
Simon (Corey Jackson) is a counselor at a Silicon Valley LGBT crisis hotline. With only one week on the job so far, Simon is already becoming cynical because the calls so far seem to be job complaints or whining about boyfriends. As Simon puts it to his co-worker Julia (Laura Altair) “it sure as hell isn’t crisis.” But during his night shift, Simon gets a call from Danny that seems legit - he is threatening to not only kill himself but three other people. Caught off-guard, Simon gently coaxes Danny to provide as much detail as possible about how he has gotten himself into such a desperate situation. He knows that the longer he can keep Danny talking, the better chance he has of either talking him out of it or having the authorities find him in time before he hurts himself and others. We then flash back between past and present to those key events as they unfold. Danny (Christian Gabriel) is a young gay man who has just accepted a job in Silicon Valley to begin a tech career. The job has moved him from his sheltered upbringing in Nebraska to the fast-paced and high-priced world of high tech. Not knowing a soul and confined to a shoebox-sized studio, he does what most gay men do in this situation...he loads an app and hopes to meet a nice and attractive guy. He ends up with exactly that when Kyle (Pano Tsaklas) responds to him so they can meet face to face.
Kyle seems to be perfect and they connect immediately on a romantic and intimate level but there seem to be questions; Kyle is evasive about how he affords his high end apartment and his job as a website consultant consists of a single client that somehow keeps him living the high life. After Kyle introduces him to his “employers” Lance (August Browning) and Christian (Christopher Fung) - a gay power couple who live in a mansion - more red flags emerge as their hedonistic lifestyle clashes with Danny’s inexperience and desire to have an uncomplicated relationship with Kyle who he continues to fall deeply in love with. But that is just the tip of the iceberg for what ultimately is revealed as the true motives for all involved.
From Writer / Director Mark Schwab
As a gay male member of Generation X, I have seen enormous changes in the culture since coming out and living my life openly in 1990. Back then you had to make the effort to leave your house and go to some sort of (at least semi) reputable establishment and make real-life connections with your community if you were to meet people and spark romantic love relationships.
Today, social media apps are how initial connections are made via simple texts. I know people who will text with someone for weeks before even talking on the phone let alone actually meeting in person. As generations feel more and more disconnected from one another, it has become easier to give in to that desperate need to connect and ignore clear warning signs when the person you’ve just met might not have your best interests in mind. Especially when you are young and emotionally (and sexually) inexperienced.
It was these thoughts that helped me shape “Shadows in Mind” as a psychological LGBT/Thriller tackling the issues of manipulation, sex, social media (and how relationships are created from it) and online exploitation, all wrapped up in a race-against-time thriller. I wanted to make a true genre film that still had a social point of view and dealt maturely and honestly with gay male sexuality.