"Bowling Alone" - Shorts Challenge

"Bowling Alone" - Shorts Challenge, by Casey Baum

April 3, 2024
Mary Grace Gallagher

Casey Baum, 24, started learning the nuts and bolts of filmmaking back in high school, when he was a student filmmaker with Annapolis’ Filmster’s Academy. But now, with a year of working at Marvel Studios in Los Angeles under his belt, he has a new appreciation for how drastically ideas change between inception and final product. He plans to present a plan for a short film that explores how those initial ideas, or labels, can sometimes be misconceptions.

“Seeing it in practice, at the largest of scales, ideas grow and change,” said Baum, who took the Shorts Challenge to heart “That’s part of what making a movie out of the box is like: open to change and keeping an open mind.”

He plans to introduce his protagonist, a devout Christian man in his 70s who is suddenly coping with the overwhelming grief of losing his wife. After he fails to find solace in familiar places like church and the bowling alley, he discovers great comfort in wearing his wife’s clothing, only to be ostracized from by his former friends.

Baum borrowed the name for his concept from the 1995 Robert Putnam essay, “Bowling Alone,” which documented America’s emerging loneliness epidemic.

“This film centers around what it means to be part of a community and what communities offer those in isolation and specifically what part they play in male loneliness,” Baum said.

He said that visually, the film will be stripped down and spare to emphasize the main character’s isolation. Baum recently finished a short film called “Sea Creatures,” which utilizes the kind of sweeping landscapes and quiet change he hopes to revisit in “Bowling Alone.”

He said that even the fact that he will be presenting his pitch alone is “on theme.”

“The whole point of this film is to explore: what do labels mean? And when is it important to be in a label and when is it important to shed that label? The primary focus of this film is grief. But other themes are these notions of religion, of gender, of masculinity, of queerness. What does it really mean for somebody? What do they mean? And how do we challenge them and fit into them based on our understanding of the people around us.”