2006 · 7:59 · written by Larry Contratti · produced by Pam W. Coughlan · directed by William R. Coughlan

Up-and-coming politico Robert Soxer is making a last-minute campaign appearance at a small kitchen and bath remodeling shop. The shop’s owner, Leon, is an ardent supporter, and takes Soxer and his entourage on a quick tour. Meanwhile, shop worker Rachael, despondent over her recent breakup with coworker Rick, makes a startling discovery — the candidate is far from what he appears to be, giving new meaning to the term “political machine.” As the group leaves, Rachael tries to convince Rick of what she’s seen, but he misinterprets her warnings. Will Rachael be able to stop Soxer’s ascent to power and redeem herself in Rick’s eyes?

Director William R. Coughlan and producer Pam W. Coughlan reteam to helm this sci-fi short for the National Film Challenge, from a script by frequent Tohubohu editor Larry Contratti. Produced entirely from October 20th through the 23rd, “Machinations” marks Tohubohu’s third entry in the competition.

National Film Challenge IMDb
‘Machinations’ was really the result of a lot of elements hitting at just the right time. Not only had we developed our core troupe to the point where we felt we could handle just about anything the National Film Challenge could throw at us, but we had access to a pool of new talent (both in front of and behind the camera) that we were eager to tap into. With production happening on the verge of the 2006 elections, it seemed natural that we would try something topical (hopefully without becoming dated too quickly). Given our production constraints, however, we wanted to keep the scope intimate, to make the story more about people than larger events, something we wouldn’t be able to convey convincingly at this scale. But even so, our guiding principle was to ensure that the film was not dependent on any ‘gimmick’ or gag (a common flaw in low-budget sci-fi attempts); while we were intent on developing our characters, we wanted to be certain that such development was derived from the plot, and not vice-versa. With some truly phenomenal graphics to set the scene and an original score that beautifully accents the film’s arc, we ended up with one of our strongest efforts to date.
— William R. Coughlan
National Film Challenge