Year of Graduation

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Major

Film

Directing Professor

Matthew J. Marshall

Abstract

Monster Code “Pilot” is a teleplay that began the creative process as a full-length screenplay, but was adapted to allow more room to expand characters and symbolism in the world of the story. Monster Code, if adapted into a full series, would follow Della Lyelle, a young woman beginning her freshman year at a university in the Deep South. Della is also grappling with a family secret: she is a loup garou, a monster from Cajun folklore much like a werewolf that achieves transformations into a strange creature that align with the phases of the moon. She is the latest in her family to achieve “the change,” as the curse can only be passed down through blood. Della must figure out how to balance her family’s secret, her ambitious academic goals, and finally staying in one place long enough to make friends. She finds these friends in the form of the Monster Club, a found family of queer individuals who have come together through a common love of film villains and monsters, identifying with them more than other characters in media (see “queercoding”). When tragedy strikes shortly after her arrival, Della must hide her other life from her newfound friends, dealing with her own monstrousness as the Club tries to discover what really took their friend. Monster Code was inspired by my own relationship to monsters as symbols for societal “others” in media, the connection between gender presentation and transformation (what’s societally expected vs. what’s unacceptable), the history of queercoding in horror cinema, and the relationship between family/legacy and choosing one’s own fate. What’s seen in the pilot is just the first part of the story, which I look forward to continuing in the future.

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