The storyboard for "Clean Life" in which I meld the spirit / philosophy of a Chinese folk tale in which a ghost takes on the identity of various people by putting on their skin, with a western morality tale about the 7 deadly sins.
This story has been published in the Primary Magazine
(Please check out this animatic video and the following Character & Environmental Design, as well as the Text Treatment of this story)
Logline -In his pursuit of justice a young police officer learns the confusing nature of good and evil and changes his focus from avenging the past to healing the future.
Synopsis - An old homeless man had taken his grandson, HANK, from his drug addicted daughter and the old man and the boy lived on the streets in a big city. One evening his grandfather was gone and the boy didn't know what to do. He went to the police and even though there was blood in the doorway where they usually slept, the police did not investigate, listing his grandfather as missing and getting Hank into foster care. Hank believed that it was because of their extreme poverty that the police took little interest in the case. Hank determined to become a police officer and serve disadvantaged communities. That dream, and the determination to find his grandfather's murderer, (for he was convinced his grandfather had been killed and did not abandon him), motivated him through the long years of school and the police academy.
Hank is now a police officer and patrols a business district with his partner PHILIP. One particular moonless night, on their last round, they see the lights in CLEAN LIFE dry cleaners are flickering. They go to investigate and find a BEAUTIFUL LADY present who flirts with them. Philip, who is married, flirts back, but Hank wants to leave so they can complete their patrol. Though he has just joined the force and is currently working as a patrolman, Hank longs to become a detective, so after his work shift he goes through missing person cases, trying to find similarities with his grandfather's case. As they leave the dry cleaner, Philip "forgets" his hat so that he will have to return later. When they wrap up their shift Hank goes into the precinct to compare and contrast the various missing person files he is sorting through while Philip returns to Clean Life dry cleaner to retrieve his hat.
When Philip arrives at the dry cleaner he peers through the window and sees the beautiful lady undressing. He enters and she seductively continues to undress. But then she takes off more than her clothes, peeling off her skin and revealing a skeletal monster. The monster's ribs separate and a purple smoke wafts out, taking the form of a hand, it grabs Philip and pulls him inside the terrifying maw. There is the sound of screams and breaking bones and the monster spits out the skin of Philip. The monster picks up Philip's empty skin and hangs it up with the other items in the dry cleaner which are now recognizable as skins. The monster labels Philip's skin "Cleaned Unfaithful" and then shuffles through the many skins and chooses one labeled "greed". The monster pulls this skin of an old beggar off the rack, and wear it on.
Hank is finding more and more similarities in the missing person cases and thinks he knows where the murderer might strike next. None of his coworkers believe him. They are dismissive of the cases as missing persons, not murders. But he is determined. After his shift Hank is exploring a darkened alley behind a hospital. A bespectacled doctor leaves and is attacked by the monster which is wearing the skin of an old beggar. Hank witnesses this attack and pulls his gun, but as the beggar looks up he recognizes his grandfather. Hank holsters his gun to rush forward and embrace the old man, but the monster rips off the skin and executes the doctor. Hank stares in horror. The monster looms over Hank and we see his life play out in the monster's eyes: the neglectful and abusive mom, the grandfather taking him out of that situation, Hank's grief at his grandfather's disappearance, foster care, school, and the police academy. The monster is uninterested in attacking Hank and disappears in a cloud of purpose smoke. But there, where the monster stood, is a ring and a pair of glasses. Hank picks up the ring, recognizing it as the wedding ring of his missing partner, Officer Phillip, and looks through the center, seeing Phillip’s sins play out: this man's young wife, his affairs, and her ultimate suicide. The policeman then picks up the doctor's glasses and through the lenses Hank sees the sins of the doctor: his cruelty, and how it cost the life of an impoverished young boy whom the doctor would not treat because he had no money to pay. The glasses and the ring turn to purple smoke and drift down the street. Hank chases after the smoke.
The smoke wafts through the crack between the doors of the Clean Life Dry Cleaner, and there in front of the door is the hobby horse from Hank's childhood. He picks it up and sees an image of his grandfather discovering the hobby horse in a dumpster and several children coming around to take it away from him. His grandfather strikes at them with the hobby horse and one child falls to the ground and hits his head, blood pours out of the boy's mouth, and the grandfather just runs away. And the scene blurs to a hospital bed, the boy's weeping mother, and then a gravestone. As Hank realizes that his grandfather had killed a child, the hobby horse turns into purple smoke and drifts into the door’s crack. The electric clothes rack begins rotating, carrying those human skins, labeled with their sins, as if moving down into the abyss of hell.
Hank returns to his desk, pushes all the missing person case files aside, and pulls out a stack of files marked, "abandon children" and "foster care". Hank is free of his obsession with finding the missing, and now wants to focus on helping those left behind, perhaps victims of the missing.
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