Checks and Balance
In today's social media-fueled high schools, your image is everything. Why choose between being the most popular kid on campus or valedictorian when you can pay for both? Checks and Balance is a high-school crime drama, following the next generation of America's students (and criminals).
Inclusion StatementPrivate education is historically comprised of predominantly white, affluent families. This film challenges that stereotype, following students of unique socioeconomic backgrounds. Checks and Balance also subtly analyzes heteronormative behavior - the vicious nature of teenage boys.
About The Project
The State of Our Students
Students have always and will always go to great lengths to ensure they have the best grades, even if that means attempting to cheat rather than studying. That said, from parents to universities, all facets of current American academia seem to be hyperfocused on those little numbers next to your name. Thousands of dollars are being tossed around to make sure kids have access to the best education possible. While we've seen parents as the main culprits of these crimes, who's to say the kids themselves aren't capable? After all, with today's technology, anybody with a smartphone and a desire to shift their paradigm can cleverly cheat the system in a million different ways. High school is just a microcosm of that - if there’s anything kids love more than getting good grades, it’s getting good grades without having to do any of the work.
A group of seniors at a pressure cooker, private high school run a mafia-esque scheme out of a garage, stealing test answers and selling them for money. However, as they go from poor to rich, from dorks to top of the social food chain, they also discover that they are in way over their heads.
Checks and Balance is a crime drama set in an affluent, New England preparatory high school. The fictitious New England Collegiate School of Higher Learning (NECSOHL) contains the classic northeastern characteristics, from wealthy families to rigorous academics. However, where NECSOHL breaks the stereotype is with its division of power. The students run the school; they organize functions, they mentor one another, and they discipline one another. The faculty are only focused on teaching and grading.
What starts as a simple idea to make some money and gain popularity quickly spirals into our protagonists biting off more than they can chew. Their naivety is put on full display as they stumble through changing power dynamics and sudden wealth. The mob, titled “The Executive Branch”, is constantly evading the investigation of “The Honor Council”, a disciplinary group of students dedicated to academic integrity, while simultaneously trying to overtake “The Trust Funders”, NECSOHL’s wealthiest students, at the top of the ladder. It is an unwavering struggle for authority. How does the Executive Branch find power, and how do they keep unruly teenagers under control? Will the Honor Council catch on? Or worse, expel those involved? Most importantly, can the Executive Branch, a tiny unit of insecure high schoolers, stay united under great pressure?
Although predominantly a drama, comedic beats blend the genre and tone. The characters are modern students in a distinctive environment. They each have unique personalities that clash in witty dialogue. On top of that, the entire situation is compounded by watching high school students attempt to run a real crime syndicate. Checks and Balance is a film written to capture the audience with high energy, while still delivering subtle and clever storytelling.
This film lives in Connecticut. Brian Smail III (director) and Mark Albini (producer) both grew up in CT, close to the high school that they both attended together. Chase Collegiate, a private day school for Pre-K - 12th Grade located in Waterbury, cultivated the duo's love for film. They often made short films about all facets of student life; whether it was theater or atheletics or even a class trip in Spain, Mark and Brian were there with their cameras. So, as the two team up again, it seemed fitting to return to the school that gave them a license to dream. Chase Collegiate has graciously allowed the team to film at their gorgeous 47-acre campus. It will portray the historic NECSOHL, the school of our characters.
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About This Team
Brian Smail III (Writer, Director)
Brian is a filmmaker born and raised in the quaint town of Wolcott, Conncecticut. He moved to Los Angeles to attend Loyola Marymount University from 2015-2018, graduating with a degree in Film and Television Production. He has assumed numerous roles both in front of and behind the camera, focusing on acting, writing, and gripping. Besides preparing Checks and Balance, Brian recently has been writing a web series and acting in various short films.
Mark S. Albini (Producer)
Mark Albini is an entrepreneur and producer, born and raised in Waterbury, CT. He moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University and graduated with a degree in Film & Video in 2018. Specializing in documentary film and digital advertising, Mark has worked in New York, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia with international talents and brands such as Stan Smith, Alicia Keys, Prada, Nike, Samsung, Adidas, and Sony Music. In addition to Checks and Balance, Mark has a documentary in development and is working to grow the JUNTO eBike brand.