Lion's Den (lost short film; 1988)
Lion’s Den is a 1988 short film directed by John Ottoman and Bryan Singer. Taking place in a diner, the short follows five friends reconnecting and discussing their lives in Hollywood. As the evening progresses, the strains in their relationships start to become prominent.
The short lasts for 25 minutes. It is unknown how or when the film was released, though an image of what seems to be a VHS or DVD cover has surfaced online. While it appears that the film used to be readily available on YouTube, it has since been removed and has not resurfaced since.
John Ottoman and Bryan Singer co-directed the short together. Singer also wrote the script and acted in the film. Ottoman edited the short.
The film starred Ethan Hawke, Dylan Kussman, Susan Kussman, Bryan Singer, Brandon Boyce, and David Conhaim. Hawke and Singer had been friends since childhood, leading to Singer requesting that he star in the film. Hawke agreed, filming Lion’s Den while he filmed the movie Dad.
Apparently, the budget for the film ended up running dry during the editing process. Robert Sean Leonard, Dead Poets Society co-star and friend of Hawke and Kussman, had access to the rough draft of the film. Liking what he saw, he ended up funding the rest of the film. Leonard described it in an interview with CTPost:
"When I was 19 years old, there was a boy named Bryan Singer, who went to high school with Ethan Hawke and he made movies, one with Ethan called ‘Lions Den.’ I saw a rough draft of it and it was a beautiful short movie, but then Bryan ran out of money and couldn’t finish editing it. Like most of my buddies from ‘Dead Poets,’ I had $20,000 in the bank. I think they gave us $30,000 for the movie. I asked Ethan [Hawke] how much Bryan needed to finish the film, and I think Ethan said $4,000. So I sent Bryan a check because when you’re 19 you think, ‘Oh, I’ll get more money.’"
According to John Ottoman’s website, the short was shown at the Director’s Guild. It is assumed that it was released for home media due to an image being available that appears to be of a DVD or VHS cover. Actor Brandon Boyce recalled a potential illegal Japanese release. An American DVD or VHS release has never been confirmed.
The short revolves around five men meeting up at a diner (presumably called Lion’s Den) that used to be their main hang-out spot; each of them have just finished their first college semester. During the interaction, tensions get revealed and their bonds get tested as they talk about the twisted world of Hollywood.
There is currently no solid source on the names of the characters.
Numerous articles have linked a YouTube link to Lion’s Den in their reviews of the film, however all of them are now defunct. The film is currently not available on any streaming service. If any physical media copies were produced, they are no longer sold.
The short film Gotcha, which seemingly accompanies Lion's Den on some sort of physical media, has been documented online. However, whatever physical media it had that may have contained Lion's Den is no longer sold.
It is unknown why the film was taken off of YouTube, but it was likely a copyright issue. Currently, the film remains lost, with only a few photos remaining.
The search for the film is currently active and ongoing, especially among fans of Hawke and Kussman’s previous works.
In October 2021, wiki user AshStarBright contacted Dylan Kussman inquiring about the film. He responded saying that he didn’t have a copy or any useful information, and that the last time he saw the film was in the early 1990s. He did encourage the search efforts though, and wished people luck in finding it.
In July 2022, AshStarBright contacted actor Brandon Boyce to inquire about the film. Boyce provided some information on the short’s development. He shared that the film’s concept was developed by him, Hawke, and Singer. Months later, they filmed at the Lion’s Den Restaurant (now defunct) in Torrance, California. Allegedly, it never received an American distribution, but may have had an illegal distribution in Japan. This is likely where the source of the online uploads came from. Boyce wished the searchers good luck in their investigation.
- The cast list for the film. Retrieved 30 Aug '21
- John Ottoman's website, detailing many elements of the short. Retrieved 30 Aug '21
- An interview with Robert Sean Leonard, where he mentions funding the short. Retrieved 30 Aug '21
- An article discussing the plot of the short. Retrieved 30 Aug '21
- An article linking the, now defunct, YouTube link. Retrieved 30 Aug '21