Saturday, May 13, 2017

Short Film Spotlight: THIS IS JOHN

Welcome back to another installment of SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT. This week, we take a look at an award winning short from 2003...THIS IS JOHN!

This 2003 short film was the winner at Tribeca Film Festival for best short. It stars Mark Duplass as John who is trying to leave a message a voicemail, miserably failing, and having a mental breakdown while doing so.

The Duplass brothers spent $3 on this film: the cost of the film for the RadioShack camera that they found. They only took three 15 minute takes and went to editing work from there. The single handheld camera work makes this piece natural and familiar to our regular lives. Being set in a kitchen that reminds us of our own regular homes, with grainy lighting and beige surroundings, gives us the feeling of home.

But that's not all. Everyone in their life has had a feeling of mental breakdown at small, seemingly insignificant points in their lives. Leaving a voice mail seems like a small thing, but it is truly incredible to think about how this gives us human identity. John sinks into a stupor that is so reminiscent of something we've all done. For me it's usually cleaning my dorm room near the end of the school year. "This is John." He can't get it out of his mouth and can't figure out who he is. Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

As a short, this film accomplishes everything it needs to by giving the audience an entire story and emotion despite only being 7 minutes and 29 seconds long. A good short film doesn't need a lot of character development or different scenes, This Is John does just that. There's no need for flash, because, despite not knowing John or his struggles, we all are John.

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