Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The Greyness of Autumn" a Comedy For Adults . . . With Puppets

Genre: Puppet Comedy
Company: Quick Off The Mark Productions
Website: Official Facebook

Danny McGuire (former professional kickboxer Duncan Airlie James) is an ostrich living in Scotland, coping with what he cannot change (i.e. that he is in fact an ostrich) and trying as hard as he can to make something of himself in a world tailor made for humans.  He lives humbly with Nelson (Chris Quick), a porn addicted monkey with an insatiable thirst for corn flakes. 

One day, he gets the word that the call center where he works is moving to India, and that he is now unemployed.

What's an ostrich to do?


"The Greyness of Autumn" is a Scottish comedy co-written, directed and edited by Chris Quick, filmed with live action puppets and a generous dollop of mature humor.  The puppets themselves are really well made and are capable of conveying a surprising number of emotions, and the dialogue is snappy enough to keep us drifting from one joke to another.

There are some very funny moments here -- in particular, Danny's romantic relationship with Katie (Amy E. Watson).  While Watson's acting is not up to the occasion, they still have a very amusing black and white montage later on in the film that cracked me up.  What would it be like to be intimate with an ostrich?  What kind of a person would want to be intimate with an ostrich?  All these questions and more are addressed in "The Greyness of Autumn".

The writing is a little shaky at times, with Danny going off on philosophical tangents about the nature of the seasons and how they relate to being alive.  James' delivery is so fast that I didn't quite follow it at first. 

Danny's journey through life has been one long story of clawing upward on the social ladder (well, if he had claws, it would've been) and trying his hardest to live a life that is in his opinion worth living.  When his job is taken away, and then his relationship with Katie becomes a question mark, he has to re-evaluate what he wants out of life, and indeed whether he wants life at all.

While it is legitimately funny at times, there's too much space between the laughs.  "The Greyness of Autumn" is a puppet movie that's actually ABOUT something, and that alone should be worth at least one watch.


Writing: 2.5 / 5.  The writing team of Andy S. McEwan and Chris Quick created a screenplay that doesn't have much forward momentum, and the fact that Danny is narrating -- doing so obviously AFTER the events here have taken place -- is somewhat dishonest to the audience.  On the positive side, the characters they've created are funny, and there are several laugh out loud moments in the film.
Directing: 3 / 5.  The locations were limited here, and weren't much to look at.  Given the limits of what he was working with, Quick kept the imagery interesting.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  The film did not need to be thirteen minutes long.  Just about every scene for the first half of the film stretched on over long, in particular Katie's dismissal of Danny at the restaurant.  A lot of these dialogue exchanges could have been summarized in a line or two -- cut, move on.
Sound/Music: 2 / 5.  "One Good Reason" by Alan Tennie was a nice, slow and somber tune to accompany the subject matter, but it was one song.  Most of the film is James' voice, which is almost monotone for the entirety of his narration.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  James, when he's doing Danny's dialogue, does a good job of embodying his character.  During the narration, he sounds almost bored.  Watson is flat for 90% of the film and we never had an opportunity to like her character whatsoever.  Chris Quick, as Nelson, is a little hard to understand for the first few exchanges.  At times, the cast is passable, and at other times, it sounds very amateurish.

Final Grade: 2.5 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "The Greyness of Autumn" on YouTube, follow writer/director/editor/actor Chris Quick on Twitter and check out Quick Off The Mark Productions on Facebook!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!