In July of 2020, filmmakers Drew Hanks and Riley Lynch set out to create a post-apocalyptic narrative tone poem that follows the story of TJ, a modern-day caveman who has lost his best friend: His Stone. Shot in the height of the pandemic, the film’s themes highlight many parallel struggles — loneliness, loss, fear, love, loss, and friendship. Below, the creators of STONE share their journey with this project ahead of their July 30th screening and release party.


The film was shot on VHS and then transferred to a 35mm print which we’ve screened at a few private events around Los Angeles. For home media, we’ve printed the film to a limited quantity of VHS tapes and will be hosting a VHS launch party Saturday July 30th at Whammy! Analog in Silverlake. We’re also selling a couple copies on DiabolikDVD. We have no plans to release the film online as we want to provide a unique analog experience in the age of streaming. 

Stone is an idea we’ve kicked around, honestly, for the past decade. We’ve written three different versions of the film, but the core of the story has always been TJ’s relationship with his stone. TJ is a short and squat caveman in isolation. He’s a beefy guy, but really gentle, and his best friend is this beautiful round stone. We thought, how horrible would it be if he lost his stone? He would do literally anything just to get his stone back, which we find to be the funniest thing in the world, and also touching. For the longest time, Stone was set in the Paleolithic era, and TJ was an actual caveman. Because we set up this whole task of making everything period, we never got it together to make the film.

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During lockdown, we connected via Zoom and talked about how we could make Stone despite the Pandemic. We decided it would be easier to do the same story, only in a post-apocalyptic setting (Lancaster, of course) rather than doing the whole Fred Flintstone thing. We started writing weird, freeform monologues for TJ to recite. The monologues evolved into poems that we really got into. We’d just text each other these poems whenever they came to mind, which was really a nice outlet at the time.

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Riley had recently made a visual album that was shot on VHS. Immediately, shooting Stone on VHS clicked as the perfect aesthetic to convey the sense of a dying world. The analog aspect is something we’ve constantly embraced, all the way through to the exhibition of Stone. We had one VHS camera at our disposal, and rented another so we could both operate a camera, which allowed us to fly through the filming in a day. The film has a “day in the life” structure, so we shaped the scenes of TJ’s day around these poems and filmed it all in chronological order. Kind of like a documentary, kind of like a music video.

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This project was a way to express all the pent-up emotions and anxieties we’d collected during lockdown. We didn’t set out to make a film that discussed isolation or social anxiety, they just came to the surface. Production was in July of 2020, so this was before any vaccines. There were only five of us on set, cast and crew. Everyone was so happy to be making something, it really felt like we were all kids playing pretend in the desert. Eliot and Patty, our two actors, were so thrilled to be making something that was off the cuff and experimental. They really dug into their characters, which was cool to see, especially since these characters had been living in our minds for years.

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Now that the world has been opening back up, it has been important to us to retain that special something Stone addresses. It means so much to us to have the ability to screen this project in person. It’s so easy for short films, feature films, and even big-budget Netflix shows to get lost online. There are no plans to release Stone via streaming. We printed the film to 35mm so we could own this project as a real physical object in the world. Much like TJ’s stone, the film print that currently resides in Drew’s fridge has become our friend. And now that we’ve come full circle and printed a bunch of VHS tapes from the digitized film print, we have a lot of little stones to share with the world. We want people to be able to connect and rejoice in the company of others over something as ridiculous as a person chasing after their favorite stone.

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Get your tickets to the Stone screening and VHS release party right here, VHS copies on sale soon from Diabolik.

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