Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Tilting At Skyscrapers": A Humorous Mix of Don Quixote and Video Game Addiction

Genre: Comedy
Length- 8:09
Company: N/A
Website: Official Facebook

Don (Frank Stasio) may be having a wee bit of trouble telling fantasy from reality.  He's a hardcore gamer with barely enough free time between games to eat . . .  and he might not be sleeping at all.  When fellow tenant Billy (Jeff Elam) stops by and tells him to get out of his apartment and go do something constructive, he takes it upon himself to go out and experience a first person shooter game firsthand -- thankfully, he has no access to real automatic weapons or explosive devices.

And yes, dear readers, this is where the hijinx begin.


"Tilting at Skyscrapers" is a clever modern day take on the seventeenth century novel, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.  Both stories feature a protagonist who is utterly lost in their own fantasy world and so starving for meaning that they find it through utterly denying the outside world exists at all.  The only real difference here is that Don has no pretensions about honor or chivalry, as Quixote did.  Don fancies himself a soldier, pure and simple.

I don't want to spoil anything, as the film is quite funny.  I loved the scene where Don attempts to use the head of a plunger as a thermal explosive.  Also, Billy, his neighbor, has a nice character arc where he begins to see how Don is almost mentally deficient, and does his best to take care of him during his night out on the town.  This relationship added a dynamic element to an otherwise static plot.


Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Stasio, who played Don, also wrote and produced "Tilting At Skyscrapers".  While I enjoyed its inventive usage of the Don Quixote source material, it didn't really have much to say and suffered from some beginner screenwriting issues, like a classic dialogue info dump from Billy at the beginning of the film about Don and how he lives his life.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Director Benjamin Pitts opens the film with that clever pan through Don's apartment -- that camera move set up the mood while conveying Don's character.  The shots out on the town looked great -- solid choreography from Natasha Norman.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The film moves at a good pace and all the transitions move seamlessly and with precision.  The color grading looks great.  I also enjoyed the credit sequence, whose font is reminiscent of old video games.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  The score, by Michael Teoli, was unremarkable -- except for the end credits, where he again takes inspiration from retro video games.  The result is a solid, fun song that I could totally see going in "Golden Axe" or "Streets of Rage" on the Sega Genesis game system.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Good acting from Stasio and Elam, though the latter's aforementioned info dump scene felt off to me.

Final Grade: 3.1 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Tilting At Skyscrapers" by clicking on this link and entering the password "Frank1"!  When you get done watching it, follow the film on Facebook to stay up to date on any new developments.

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!