Dear Principal Williams,

I am writing to inform you of my decision to screen my short film Visions of Pain for my fifth grade class this afternoon. I think it is essential for their growth they witness my creation. And no matter what you, other teachers, or the PTA may say, this has nothing to do with my film's complete and total rejection from festivals nationwide.

Ask yourself: What better audience to experience an up-and-coming director's work than the unsullied minds of fifth graders? Their view of the world is still so pure, their opinions uncorrupted by the elitist jackals of Hollywood. Why just yesterday, I was teaching them the basics of geometry. But through my film, I can educate them on the maddening contradictions of existence.

This is what good teachers do. They expose their students to truth. Sure, in this instance, the source of the truth is a twenty-five-minute avant-garde romp filmed by myself, but that's just a happy coincidence! While their classmates learn about fractions, state capitols, and grammar, my students will reckon with the terrifying cruelness of an unfair God.

And as I have gone over many times, the film is entirely non-sexual and free of violence. However, I will concede the dog birth montage set to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” is somewhat graphic. But is it any more graphic than the world outside their door? I think not.

How I wish I had a teacher like myself, an educator who could prepare me for the impending misery waiting beyond the schoolyard. We have argued about this many times, but I believe there is far more to a public school education than just a student's test numbers. No SAT score imaginable will prepare them for the sting of being laughed out of the Akron Film Festival.

“Strange and unnerving,” wrote the judges.

“Unwatchable filth!” they screamed over voicemail.

Was not Herzog misunderstood? Did not Kubrick sear the retinas of the public with his work? Do the overlords not question all tales of truth? I do not accept their criticism! It is the feedback of feeble-minded cowards.

So, roll out the red carpet and wheel in the A.V. cart, it's time to show the tots some cinema! Enough with the educational docs and animated tales of morality. Those “movies” are bottom-of-the-barrel fluff. Today, the kids are going to learn about a new topic.


In conjunction with my film, I serve as a powerful cautionary tale. The ultimate lesson. A man who left the public education system with a dream, only to tragically return to it. Is this not a sick joke? I am a walking paradox that can offer the students far more than multiplication tables.

I can hear your rebuttal already “The kids don't care about that part of your life.”

Oh really?

Though they have not asked directly, I think my students yearn to know more about the man behind the desk. I see it in their eyes. Bobby even told me the other day he thought my bowtie was “cool.” If he liked my bowtie, can you imagine how he'll enjoy the film's gratuitous dream sequence?

Unlike you, Principal Williams, I know the children will recognize the profound nature of my creation. May their spaghetti-stained mouths go forth and spread the word of what they've witnessed. And from it build a better world—a world where I get paid to make films.

I do not expect you to understand or condone this screening. But today, I defy your numerous and explicit emails of dissent and dare to be known. If you need me, I'll be in the teacher's lounge microwaving popcorn.