Short Film Night

“This one’s about boredom and emptiness…”
The audience collectively sighs.

Next up: a gangster film,
Shot in black and white.
Riddled with clichés and bad cockney accents.
Four actors in a hotel room,
One covered in fake blood,
A heist gone wrong,
A betrayal, but by who?
“Isn’t this just the plot to Reservoir Dogs?” the audience wonders.

Next a student film about heroin-addiction, prostitution and rape.
A veritable misery marathon,
Also shot in black and white.
A girl in the audience, a victim of those things, squirms and winces throughout.

Slick, graded, cut and polished within an inch of its life,
And already a major hit on the festival circuit,
But the smug director won’t reveal the secrets of his success.
“What was the budget?”
“I can’t say” he replies, as though it were a matter of national security.
“How did you do those amazing special effects?”
“Just a lot of really hard work,” he patronizes them,
Failing to mention the £12,000 left by recently departed Uncle George, who worked in the City.

And now a film noir,
With their bland charisma-free faces and cod-American accents,
The two leads are not Bogie and Bacall,
Bernard Hermann’s iconic Vertigo score is awkwardly inserted to add a much-needed sense of atmosphere,
Finally it’s over.
“Have you got copyright clearance for that music?”
“Errr…yes…” the director hastily lies.

The audience now weary and worn out by the onslaught of mediocrity,
Still the host perseveres,
“Our next film is Zombie Strippers From Mars…”

The final film is upon them
The audience prays for a miracle
And to everyone’s surprise:
The visual style is confident
The intended atmosphere – evoked
The ideas – communicated
The story – properly told

The audience applauds
But who is responsible?
A young girl comes to the front of the stage.
The host can barely contain his gushing praise.
“And how old are you?” he asks.
“I’m 16,” she replies.
The other filmmakers look deeply uncomfortable,
Their own inadequacies lay before them.

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