Oleander

A sex-positive teenage YouTuber starts a social media war against her Christian abstinence program.

Director’s Vision

Oleander is the short film version of a feature film screenplay that I wrote, which was a finalist in the American Zoetrope Screenplay contest. My intention in making the film was to introduce the themes, characters, and visual landscape of the feature, in the form of a self-contained short.

My inspirations for this short were twofold. First, I wanted to write about my own experiences with abstinence education as a pre-teen, which held an emotionally destructive power over my psyche as I came into my own as a young woman. Second, I’ve become fascinated by the way in which we now fight our most emotionally fraught cultural battles on social media platforms. For a young woman in the internet era, coming of age sexually also involves having to choose a side in this overwhelming online discourse over whether her sexual life should be suppressed or celebrated. My protagonist, Oleander, is a hero because she fights through the noise to speak her authentic truth.