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Freshman Connor Palankey makes directorial debut in recent short film

Photo by Courtesy of YouTube
Freshman cinema production major Connor Palankey made his directorial debut with the recent short film, “DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE.”

Freshman cinema production major Connor Palankey made his directorial debut with the recent short film, “DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE.” The piece was released on January 26, 2024. 


Not only did Palankey direct the film, but he is also the founder of creative group NICEPLACEBADSETTING. The group collaborated to produce the short film.


“DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE” is NICEPLACEBADSETTING’s first public work. The film crew came together unexpectedly. Ian Joy, the film’s cinematographer, Josh Shaw, the featured actor, and Palankey met through their previous jobs at Lowe’s. 


“We’ve kind of reunited recently over our desire to create and stuff,” Palankey said.


Palankey brainstormed the concept of forming a group that promotes creativity, including videography, photography, music, and more. This later morphed into NICEPLACEBADSETTING.


“When [the] ideas formed, I didn’t know what I wanted [it] to be, so I just started out shooting pictures and stuff to just try and shape the general aesthetic,” Palankey said. “Probably a month or two ago, I pitched the idea to Ian and Josh.”


Palankey’s inspiration behind forming the group stemmed from his desire to create and embrace the unknown.


“I thought it would be cool to have NICEPLACEBADSETTING to sort of be this constant evolution of life, and like an attempt at capturing the constant fluctuation and chaos that comes with existence,” Palankey said.


The group’s first film, “DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE,” Palankey aimed to capture the complications of existence and the power of free will. The piece depicts a man who decides to set himself on fire. The character’s choices are meant to represent how transitory life is, as well as the importance of taking risks.


“Why not just risk it all?” Palankey said. “Because you really never will lose anything. That’s what I was trying to aim for in [the film.]”


The film finishes on a black screen with text reading “self preservation is not the answer.” Palankey seeked to create a piece that relates to people of all walks of life.


“It’s just think [that] stuff that tackles the human experience in life is cool,” Palankey said. “Since I’m in my 20s and a lot of my friends that I talk to, everybody – and I mean everybody –  doesn’t know what’s going on really.”


Leading actor Josh Shaw joined Palankey in his efforts to bring these ideas to life. Shaw made his acting debut in “DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE” and decided to take on the role to push himself out of his comfort zone.


“Showing up to it, I had no idea what I was [getting] into,” Shaw said. “But it was so much fun because the genuineness of it. It didn’t feel like we were there to make this short film to blow it up. It felt like we were there doing it because everybody was having so much fun with it.” 


Shaw contributes to the atmosphere of the film through his actions and expression. His performance combined with the cinematography, color grading and sound design to create a chilling scene.


The film was originally supposed to be shot outside, but the weather was not permitting. The crew made a collective decision to hold the shoot inside of a garage. They only worked with a small Lumix camera with one lens, two flood lights and an LED garage panel. 


When shooting in the new location, cinematographer Ian Joy proposed to Palankey that they should make the shots green in post-production, bringing one of the film’s most recognizable aspects to life. Joy is a senior film student at Ithaca College.


“This was the best case scenario that it could’ve turned out,” Joy said. “I was thinking in my mind that it was going to be an outdoor shoot and since we did it indoors, that changed it completely. We wouldn’t have had the green look.” 


The crew pulled off a film with high production quality, despite their low budget and limited resources. Palankey shared that they only spent money on limited props, makeup, and various small aspects of the shoot.


“It was a very low budget thing, but it was all about getting the message across efficiently,” Palankey said. “I tried to do that. Hopefully, somehow it resonated with some people.”


Much of the ambience present in “DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE” also stems from the impressive work from Tyler Kadar. Kadar is a core member of NICEPLACEBADSETTING, after he and Palankey had several creative pursuits together in the past. Kadar was originally the composer for the film, but he took on a new role after an unexpected find.


“[Connor] found this song that we used, and it was like perfect for the film,” Kadar said. “It just fit the vibe.”


After finding the ideal song to score the piece, Kadar took on the role of sound designer to elevate what they already had. His use of risers, sub-bass and white noise effectively added dramatic tension to enhance the “grimey” vibe of the film.


“I wanted everything I added to match the aesthetic of what was happening visually, so I tried to make it as gritty as possible,” Kadar said.


Gaffer Devon Friel, Palankey, Shaw, Joy and Kadar fully produced and released the short film over the course of one month. This five-person crew are all close friends, inspiring each other to create. 


“I genuinely am proud and beyond fortunate to have a group of friends that are willing to lift each other up, help support each other’s goals and help each other bring their ideas to life,” Palankey said. 


“DESTRUCTION FOR A GOOD LIFE” is available on NICEPLACEBADSETTING’s YouTube channel for anyone to watch.

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