Posts Tagged ‘greg fay’

Parallel Lines

April 12, 2010

Over the weekend I learned about the Parallel Lines project, where five filmmakers have each made a short piece in a different genre. What links the shorts is that they all contain the same six lines of dialogue. I’m a sucker for ideas like that, so I knew I’d find it interesting to watch the films even if I didn’t like every piece.

Five of the six lines of dialogue leave a lot of wiggle-room as to what a character could be reacting to and there is one line, if you have seen the films already you’ll know which one I mean, that begs a little more inventiveness from each filmmaker. That line can still be interpreted a lot of different ways and I’m pleased to say for the most part, each film did use that line, and the others, in a number of different ways.

I’ll try and keep it as spoiler-light as possible, but it’s not that easy to review such short stories without including any plot details, so you may want to go watch the films first.

The Hunt by Jake Scott features two men out hunting… something in a wooded area. I loved all the scenery shots of the piece and it was a neat little idea for a short. My main criticism would be that they didn’t bring a lot of imagination to the pre-prepared lines they were given, something which every other film here did quite well. They did use the last line of the film in a way no-one else did though, so credit to them there.

Sci-fi fans and general tech junkies will love Johnny Hardstaff’s offering, Darkroom. A man is looking out over a futuristic yet gloomy Japanese city with some very advanced surveillance equipment. I really enjoyed the look of the whole film, not just in the special effects used and the great shot that leads us into the room with the spy but the set dressing in the target apartment is very stylish and detailed and it’s a joy to be taken through the procedure of using a super-camera to manipulate reflections and long-lenses to get the difficult shot the character wanted. Also, gratuitous female butt ogling always goes down well with an audience so bonus points there.

Apparently, there is already a lot of Hollywood interest in expanding The Gift (Carl Eric Rinsch), with many studios hoping they have another potential District 9 in the making. Like Darkroom, this features some pleasing computer effects but the sets and locations are just as pleasing and really add to the film. I very much liked the design of the underground train station. The costume work adds as much to the character of the short as well, especially the uniform of the masked men policing the streets. The chase scene is thrilling to watch although I was a bit irked at having a MacGuffin with no obvious significance leading the motivations of the chase. I realise there is a certain economy of storytelling in a story this short, but I prefer to know chases, and action sequences in general, when I’ve got good reason to want one to prevail.

el Secreto de Mateo is my favourite of the bunch. As someone who thinks a lot about writing fiction I was very impressed with the way Greg Fay took the challenge of adapting such ambiguous dialogue and carving something sweet, poignant and original from it. As well as the great establishing shots throughout the film I especially enjoyed the slow lead-up at the beginning as more is slowly revealed to the viewer until we get to the payoff of the secret. Fantastic performances from the two young leads as well. Loved it.

Jun & the Hidden Skies (Hi-Sim) is a great animated short film that explores the imagination of two young children playing in an attic. Again, I liked the way the script was interpreted in a different way, especially near the end where the interaction between the young siblings rang really true for me. As for the combination of varied ideas in the make-believe of the youngsters, it really took me back to my own hyperactive youth and the sense of wonder at becoming part of ones own fictional world.

Overall, they are all worth a watch and I’ll be interested to see the results of the attached competition, where the sponsors invite any would-be auteurs to make their own short film using the same dialogue. I may even comment on some of these pieces although I won’t necessarily build a whole blog post around it.

Other thoughts:

-It’s not often I have praise for an ad campaign but I do have to give credit to Philips for the way they handled this. For the most part, being bombarded by advertising in all its myriad forms really doesn’t sit right with me, but I understand that it is necessary for a lot of the things that I enjoy to reap the benefits of ad-funding. But instead of ads that are obnoxious and pointless or just plain annoying this campaign is non-invasive and has the positive outcome of getting some smaller name filmmakers a chance to share the work with the world. So props for doing the ad game right Philips (sendmeafreetv sendmeafreetv…)

-On the subject of imaginative children you MUST read the Axe Cop webcomic if you haven’t done already. Seriously, I can’ praise it high enough and I’m only one of many new fans all over the internet. A very imaginative six-year-old American boy dictates story ideas to his 29-year-old brother Ethan Nicolle, a professional comics artist. About a cop who lives for nothing more than to take on bad guys with an axe and an ever-expanding cast of allies. The story begins here and Axey meets Honest Abe Lincoln here. But seriously, read the whole thing and thank me later.