Synopsis: In this grounded dark comedy short, Rachel, a lonely 40-something woman with a checkered past, becomes obsessed with joining the clique of young moms who meet outside her window. She brings home several unsuspecting men in an attempt to get pregnant, but when those efforts prove to be fruitless, she resorts to desperate measures to fit in. Part biting comedy, part heart-aching drama, Fruitless explores the complexities of aging in a society that values youth.
Hank Doughan (Bob)
Elior Ilishah (Alex)
Rachel Scott (Lacy)
Maria Byron Trent
I wrote, directed and starred in the dark comedy Fruitless to delve into the more uncomfortable and nuanced elements of womanhood. Fruitless isn’t just a short about a woman trying to get pregnant; it’s a story of a 40-something woman desperately and fruitlessly wanting to belong, while struggling with aging in a society that values youth. Rarely are deeply flawed, toxic female characters explored in film. And when a woman is portrayed wanting a baby – it’s usually for all the right reasons. Fruitless turns that expectation on its head.
As society progresses, filmmakers are more frequently allowed to embrace flawed depictions of women. However, when we are told that we must show them in these certain ways in order to be accepted (strong, empowered, right, intelligent), we are again limiting the female expression of humanity through art. Men have been allowed to explore all aspects of humanity in film through weak and toxic characters, empowered characters, strong characters, flawed characters, anti-heroes and everything in between. For women to be considered artistic equals, it must be ok for them to be flawed, weak, wrong, heinous and ugly in film. Fruitless depicts an “unlikable” woman wanting a child to join the “in crowd.” The character is compelling and colorful yet unapologetically misguided.
I wrote this script and chose to embody the character because motherhood for me was a time for bonding with other women over the shared newness, wonder, and stress of caring for a baby. When my babies turned to toddlers, then to children, life progressed and that time was over. With the honeymoon stage of new motherhood gone, I no longer had a tight circle of female support and I missed the connection. When I see groups of young new moms together, I feel like an outsider peering in on a precious and irreplaceable time in a woman’s life. Many women crave motherhood and there is nothing “disempowered” about it. It just is. The story of Fruitless was inspired by the wistful longing to belong to that young moms group, even if briefly, one more time — and the subsequent guilt and sense of internal conflict this elicits in me and others in a judgmental society that at times punishes high achieving women for becoming mothers.
Fruitless is an edgy story about want, loss and loneliness…and it’s funny. In it, I mine the comedy inherent in desperation and neediness — comedy grounded in pain – the type of comedy present in everyday life. Desperate and toxic men have served as compelling protagonists for years (Fargo, The Godfather, Jerry Maguire – this list goes on and on) — I hope that women will have the same chance to explore the full, vibrant range of human existence through art. The success of series like Fleabag, Dead to Me and Awkward Black Girl demonstrates that we crave stories about flawed, self-sabotaging women — because they are all too human and real.
Robyn Paris is one of 9 women selected for the 2021 “Future Directors of Studio Features” initiative sponsored by Blackmagic Collective, as reported in Variety. Robyn created/directed 10 episodes of the mockumentary series, THE ROOM ACTORS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW? which premiered at Raindance and won numerous festival awards before launching on Funny or Die and amassing 1M+ views.
Called “super-talented” (PopSugar), a talent with “moxie and conviction” (LA Times) and “zany and witty” (Tubefilter), Robyn’s work has generated press in Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, and others.
As a writer, Robyn has developed scripts with companies such as StarThrower Entertainment (“Ingrid Goes West”) and Rocklin/Faust (“Spotlight”). She’s currently a staff writer for the kids TV show Generation Genius and she wrote the VR narratives for health-tech company BehaVR. Robyn is attached to direct two feature comedies and is in pre-production on her newest short, GARAGE SALE.
She won the Samuel Goldwyn Screenwriting Award, the Harmony Gold Award, the Jack Nicholson Prize, and is a Humanitas Prize nominee for writing. A seasoned comedic improviser, she performed on house teams with The Second City Chicago, IO Chicago, IO West and The Groundlings. Robyn holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and a BA from Duke University.