Regulation Frame_1.jpg

Regulation is a short sci-fi film directed by Ryan Patch

In the near future, a young social worker (Sunita Mani, “Glow”) travels to a small community to administer behavior-modifying "patches" that guarantee happiness for the wearers. She must decide what to do when a precocious girl (Audrey Bennett, “Frozen on Broadway”) refuses to accept the patch.


Director Ryan Patch’s Statement

I started thinking about “Regulation” when I read on a Harvard bioethicist’s blog about the idea of always-on drop dosage of antidepressants. At this time, I had also met a curious character who “microdosed” himself throughout the day with what he described as the “perfect balance of caffeine, nicotine, and LSD to keep me alert and productive.” My mind immediately combined the two, and imagined a world where perfect happiness and contentment could be achieved through a body sensor and drug distributor somewhat like an advanced insulin pump. How would we handle this as a society? And how would the government react to the disparity in privilege it would create between children who grew up “happy” and those who did not? What’s the government’s responsibility to “level the playing field,” in health, and where is human freedom factored into these decisions?

Mia and Kaleigh are both characters based on my wife, Alison.  She inspired Mia as an optimistic, hopeful millennial, who wants to make the world a better place. Kaleigh is based on stories that Alison told me of making up magical kingdoms and worlds for herself to play in as a lonely 10-year old.  I combined these ideas with my own memories of childhood - roaming around Colorado, scraping knees and finding tree forts - and created a single conversation between Mia and Kaleigh about why one would - or would not - want this sort of patch.

Casting both Sunita and Audrey were fantastic surprises. As soon as Sunita came into our world, we knew almost immediately that she was our ‘Mia’. She had an earnestness in her eyes that perfectly captured the tenseness of ‘Mia’s pivotal scene at the end. We were very fortunate to bring Audrey to the screen for her first time - an accomplished Broadway actress, she has an amazing subtlety to her reactions, and brought an innocence and tenderness to Kaleigh that would cause the audience to “root” for her in a way that I could not have written.

Many other special things came together for us. Our award-winning DP, Matt Mitchell, was a true partner in helping me develop the visual narrative for the piece - going on multiple scouts in one week and passing a lot of emails and photos back and forth to get the tone right. The art team that built the treehouse in less than a day and dressed the entire set on a meager budget. Our costume designer who turned a vintage skirt suit into a well-fitting pant suit of the future tailored just for Sunita. And the magical location that fit all three of our scenes into one property.