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Struggling to uphold his sobriety while managing a recent mental illness diagnosis, an enigmatic young husband and father finds an outlet podcasting as he searches for a way to reconcile his demons in an effort to be “normal”.

Welcome to the world of CJ Paul, an intelligent, enigmatic, young professional, balancing a budding career as an engineer, ever-changing life as a husband and father… and the foreboding demons of addiction and mental illness

When CJ steps into a recording studio and puts his lips to the mic, he looks just like any other Black millennial male seeking to make something out of nothing by putting it on wax. But this is not a mixtape and CJ is not a musician; this is a podcast and CJ is the host… Rather, he is your guide and this is a journey into his mind–the struggle of a Black man just trying to become normal… “Whatever that means.”

In this brief glimpse into a past life that gives us the man we’re looking at right now, CJ recounts the night when one bad decision leads to a string of events that changed his life forever.

NORMALIZED is an intimate look at the complexities of manhood, childhood trauma, and how mental instability can lead to detrimental decisions that will either kill you or make a cautionary tale out of you while seeking to discover the answer to the question,
“What does it mean to be ‘normal’?”

Welcome to the world of CJ Paul, an intelligent, enigmatic, young professional, balancing a budding career as an engineer, ever-changing life as a husband and father… and the foreboding demons of addiction and mental illness

When CJ steps into a recording studio and puts his lips to the mic, he looks just like any other Black millennial male seeking to make something out of nothing by putting it on wax. But this is not a mixtape and CJ is not a musician; this is a podcast and CJ is the host… Rather, he is your guide and this is a journey into his mind–the struggle of a Black man just trying to become normal… “Whatever that means.”

In this brief glimpse into a past life that gives us the man we’re looking at right now, CJ recounts the night when one bad decision leads to a string of events that changed his life forever. NORMALIZED is an intimate look at the complexities of manhood, childhood trauma, and how mental instability can lead to detrimental decisions that will either kill you or make a cautionary tale out of you while seeking to discover the answer to the question,
“What does it mean to be ‘normal’?”

Welcome to the world of CJ Paul, an intelligent, enigmatic, young professional, balancing a budding career as an engineer, ever-changing life as a husband and father… and the foreboding demons of addiction and mental illness

When CJ steps into a recording studio and puts his lips to the mic, he looks just like any other
Black millennial male seeking to make something out of nothing by putting it on wax. But this is not a mixtape and CJ is not a musician; this is a podcast and CJ is the host… Rather, he is your guide and this is a journey into his mind–the struggle of a Black man just trying to become normal… “Whatever that means.”

In this brief glimpse into a past life that gives us the man we’re looking at right now, CJ recounts the night when one bad decision leads to a string of events that changed his life forever.
NORMALIZED is an intimate look at the complexities of manhood, childhood trauma, and how mental instability can lead to detrimental decisions that will either kill you or make a cautionary tale out of you while seeking to discover the answer to the question,
“What does it mean to be ‘normal’?”

setting

themes

outlook

The story takes place in BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, highlighting the
city and the surrounding metropolis through the lens of burgeoning
professional Black men.

The story explores issues of MANHOOD, ADDICTION, MENTAL
ILLNESS, CAREER/PROFESSIONAL LIFE, FATHERHOOD, and
the struggles of balancing all of this while trying to be a HUSBAND.

The NORMALIZED short film serves as a companion piece for the
podcast and proof of concept for the eventual half-hour drama
television series of the same name.

The story takes place in BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, highlighting the city and the surrounding metropolis through the lens of burgeoning professional Black men.

The story explores issues of MANHOOD, ADDICTION, MENTAL ILLNESS, CAREER/PROFESSIONAL LIFE, FATHERHOOD, and the struggles of balancing all of this while trying to be a HUSBAND.

The NORMALIZED short film serves as a companion piece for the podcast and proof of concept for the eventual half-hour drama television series of the same name.

The story takes place in BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, highlighting the city and the surrounding metropolis through the lens of burgeoning professional Black men.

The story explores issues of MANHOOD, ADDICTION, MENTAL ILLNESS, CAREER/PROFESSIONAL LIFE, FATHERHOOD, and the struggles of balancing all of this while trying to be a HUSBAND.

The NORMALIZED short film serves as a companion piece for the podcast and proof of concept for the eventual half-hour drama television series of the same name.

Telling the story of a Black man struggling with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, it was imperative to question this notion of normal: What is ‘normal’ and how do we define that within society? Is ‘normal’ even an ideal that we should aspire to become? If so how is being ‘normal’ attainted? These questions, through uninhibited testimony (narration) that our protagonist articulated to the audience, suggests that being normal is about being truthful. Through the aesthetic of the film, especially through the device of the breaking of the 4th wall, CJ talks directly to the audience, pushing us to explore what truly lies under the masks. Through the testimony comes the long road of healing. The style was inspired by the idea of stripping naked the walls that we put up to hide what is truly under the masks.

- ziad foty, Director

NORMALIZED is a story about coming clean and being honest about who we are in addition to who we aren’t. I wanted to capture all aspects of our protagonist’s life, including some of the most personal truths he had to offer. I chose the RED camera system -- the HELIUM and the KOMODO -- to give us diversity in some of the spaces that we needed to shoot in but still allowed us to exist in the same cinematic ecosystem. I also chose the LEICA SUMMICRON CINE LENS set which gave us the depth and speed to show the contrast in our protagonist’s psyche.

- damien coor, DP

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