Zoe Miller is the idealistic, "straight-edge" 23 year-old "shoegazer" guitarist with a troubled past. To further her musical career, Zoe convinces her bassist boyfriend Jake Reed and slacker drummer Bill "Trippy" Hansen to play at the SXSW Music Festival. With no money and even fewer connections, they consent to drive a jet-setting Texas billionaire's white Cadillac from New York City to Dallas through a drive-away car service and soon find themselves stranded in Big D for 3 days and nights. Forced to befriend 2 nouveau riche douchebags who get the band embroiled in an underground ecstasy ring and beguiled by the decadent lifestyles of their scheming Texas hosts, the band go on the run to New Orleans.
At heart, the story of "Substance" is set against the backdrop of something I care very deeply about: the independent or "indie" rock music scene. To be even more specific, I am obsessed with British indie pop, rock, and electronica. In this story, the conflicts of the protagonist rocker Zoe Miller are examined as she tries to navigate through the difficulties of being a flawed human being because of a less-than-idyllic upbring against the idealism of the "never selling out" mantra which she has placed onto a pedestal. The inability to never let go of that ideal, ironically, is at the heart of Zoe's own self-destruction. Because Zoe is in a sense an alter ego for me, this project is about the conflict and awe I have with the ethos embodied through this milieu in my quest to "be real" and how that struggle sometimes makes me feel like a fraud while at other times gives me strength. Furthermore, the story is a subtle examination of class issues in America literally through the lens of one of the most universally-accepted forms of storytelling.