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What We Learn

2001, 3 minutes

Watching a late night talk show, where guests do little more than shout at one another and fight, a young woman recalls a moment of childhood drama. We see the recounting of a story, beginning innocently enough with the request for a before dinner snack, and quickly developing into a darkly comic dialogue of double meanings, threats and a dead father. 





"What we learn began as a one minute play, simply the dialogue between the mother and daughter and the opening and closing one line monologues of the daughter as an adult. When visioning this as a short movie, I saw the late night talk show as a great way for the protagonist to remember this very bizarre moment in her life."


"It was my intention to make this very ambiguous piece as clear on the first viewing as possible. However, many people, after viewing it, say they go back to it a second, third and maybe a fourth time to capture the layering of the story and end up enjoying it more. That's quite alright with me." ~ John Van Slyke

(Due to the passage of time, only the portions filmed for the talk show survive. )


Written & Directed by:

John Van Slyke Adapted from his play by the same name.


Director of Photography / Editor:

Ross Bigley


Executive Producer:

Mike Pinkepank



Chad Kopenski

Maggie Cain

Jelani Nation

Melanie Burns

The Schuster Family

Ku Mays



Woman/ Mother
, Brenda Corr
Girl, Becca Schuster
Talk Show Host, David Steward
Woman Guest, Pam Paset
Guest in Black, Robert W. C. Kennedy
Father, Michael A. Weber
Guest in hat, Seymour Muchmore
Bearded Guest, Marshall Mahoney
Guard on Guest in Black, David Rogman
Guard on Guest with Hat, Mike Pinkepank
Clipboard Producer, Peter Martinson
Cue Card Holder, Jennifer Heise



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