Small Blue Shadow

Feeling trapped and restless, a Manhattan professional dreams of escaping the urban rat race.



A mid 40’s Manhattan professional, feels trapped; in her job; her apartment, her commute, and the general monotony and predictability of her life. These thoughts and fears begin to manifest themselves in a serial dream, the meaning of which she attempts to unravel over time, particularly during her commute, where messages of various sorts bring her more or less closer to her goal.


Back in 1998 my brother Jordan and I opened a VFX and Animation business called Curv Studios in San Francisco. We had plans to create a feature length animated film to “kickstart” the business, but soon found that was a wee bit too ambitious considering the 1st ever 3d animated film Toy Story had only been released a few years earlier in 1995. So we set our sights a bit lower and decided to create a short film called “Small Blue Shadow”, to be a literal retelling of Plato’s allegory of the cave. Well after several years trying to write treatments for this which we never felt were ‘working’, the project was shelved, only to be revived now after the success of The Blues Crab. So almost 3 decades later we are ready!

Plato’s allegory of the cave is a parable on the nature of ignorance and education in society. To infuse our story with the essential notions presented in Plato’s allegory, and not presume to teach, instead attempting only to entertain our audience, we have distilled only certain themes. For instance, our protagonist is a mid-40’s professional living in New York City who feels like she is trapped in a hamster wheel like existence, commuting to work endlessly only to work at a soul crushing job.

Our hero is like the character in Plato’s allegory, born in a cave and chained to a chair, a prisoner forced to watch shadows play on walls before her. Symbolically that is our hero’s life, the shadows are the endless parade of commuters and co-workers around her in Manhattan, and much like her they are trapped by their finances and limited opportunities.

Our story is set in an indeterminate time period in Manhattan. Living in NYC can all too often produce the feeling we all live in our own little caves of experience. Our hero’s dreams are entirely different than her waking life in NYC, in her dreams she exists restrained within an actual cave, where behind her there is a primitive subterranean civilization working at what appears to be a gargantuan industrial furnace many stories high. This is “The Grind”.

General idea behind the Grind concept (Jordan Abeles original notes): “The whole reason that I came up with the term “The Grind” is that I was envisioning something that was in a constant state of churning and folding over into itself… grinding out that dollar beeyatch ! (or, in other parlance… working at unrewarding labor for a living). It should be busy but orchestrated, like rush hour in Manhattan… both a ballet and a death march all in one. It should be big… bigger than one individual. Like a mix between the Mississippi River (not fast or violent, but with an unyielding and persistent flow, mixed with “the Maze” in Oakland, with all the freeways coming together before the Bay bridge, and splitting apart on the way out of the city.”

This serial dream is in essence her subconscious reacting violently to a life of quiet desperation.

As you might guess, my work has become a little like this, in so much as I always need new challenges,
and changes in order to feel vital and engaged. When work and life become too predictable, my imagination gets the better of me and I feel the need to express these feelings. And what better way to
do that constructively then through an original work of art saying the things which are pressing on my mind. At 53 years of age, the hamster wheel is fully engaged, and I’m not having it!