Wednesday 4 September 2013

The Date (2013)

Director: Cody Carlson
Stars: Matthew Branscome and Ashlyn Torman
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
When thinking about what has to be done to create a film from scratch in only 48 hours, it's easy to concentrate on the obvious challenges, such as writing a script (especially when given limitations or requirements to follow), or making sure that everything shot can be seen and heard without issues. Yet there's so much more that needs to be done to present a completed picture and this piece from director Cody Carlson and GCU Brick Squad is a good example of that. The story, about a boy on his first date with the dream girl he's admired from afar for far too long, is almost ignorably routine; the moments it illustrates are those that are quintessentially special to those living them at the time but rather mundane to anyone who might be watching, such as us. It's capably done, but it's nothing to write home about. Yet that's not to say that The Date is a rather mundane film, as it's notably solid when it comes to the things we don't usually think about.

Two of those bookend the piece. The opening scenes provide the superb, deceptively simple trailer, something that IFP challenges require to be submitted alongside each film. It combines deceptively simple narration, editing and music with subtle movement, all to tell us precisely what this short is about. It's note perfect for thirty seconds. The last scene unfolds at a good location, something that has to be plucked out of the air once the framework for a story comes together. This one works as a setting for the couple on their date and, with a neat turn of the camera, works for a final shot after they've walked off screen. In between, there are some solid little touches to spice up the mild story, simple things like having the girl go to the boys' bathroom by mistake or a brief dream sequence to accompany a fart joke. Yes, there's a fart joke here, but frankly, it's the best moment of the film and I'm not saying that in a condescending tone. It makes the story, both for us and its characters.

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