Bugtussle is the latest short film from writer/director Derek Sitter. It is currently in the film festival submission process and is unavailable to the public. However. you can watch the trailer here and keep an eye out for a festival near you.
Synopsis: After a bank robbery gone bad, a broken criminal and his unhinged partner hide out in a shack in the orange groves of Bakersfield to await their getaway car. As they try to get out of this clusterfuck with some of their dreams intact, their personal demons may have other plans.
It is difficult to explore America’s wealth disparity and its consequences without studying Steinbeck. Wealth disparity is easily one of the planet’s biggest flaws…and it’s gotten more violent and disturbing since Steinbeck wrote Of Mice And Men and Grapes Of Wrath. Hell, the pandemic alone has proven we have a serious problem.
When I began to write Bugtussle, I didn’t know I was to explore the similarities of Of Mice And Men. I simply wanted to tell a story of two simple, trapped, traumatized and poverty-stricken men with dreams of a better life. I just wanted to tell their story. However, once I dove into these characters, I wondered what Of Mice And Men might look like in 2020. So, I began to incorporate elements of Steinbeck’s classic into these characters and shine light on how much we haven’t changed. I needed to explore how poverty impacted mental health, addiction, violence, abandonment, abuse…along with the many other symptoms of poor Americans.
I was born in small town Oklahoma and was well acquainted with these people. Many who had dreams as children. Dreams that later got shattered by the time they were teenagers. Many fell into the grips of teenage pregnancy, violence, drugs, alcohol, and an array of mental health issues. It was all they knew. It was what they were taught. They knew no differently because this is the system they were born into. You could still see the innocent shining little child in each of them…but their crooked paths were already written.
So, Bugtussle aims to tells the story of “bad dirt” set specifically in “Okie Country” and Steinbeck territory of Bakersfield, California. The story of the damaged, poor, and broken homes we were bred into from the beginning. Innocent and loving children that were corrupted because the system failed them for generations.
As the director (and actor), I needed to explore the human pathos of two broken criminals that just wanted ‘a little place of their own.’ Two men that just wanted a fair shot at the American Dream. Just one shot.
Writer/Director Derek Sitter