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Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Take Your Shot"! -- Prolific Character Actor Timothy J. Cox EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW!

Since moving to New York City fifteen years ago, Timothy Cox has racked up an astonishing 117 appearances in short films and major TV series such as "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and recurring character Detective Ken Clancy on "Watching the Detectives".

A successful character actor by anyone's standards, it all began for him on a fateful day in 8th grade when he took an acting role simply as an excuse to get out of class . . . and realized he loved it.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Check out my interview with Tim below as we chat about what it means to be an actor in today's digital workplace, how to market yourself, the secret to his success and much, much more!


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FCSFR: You've cited acting giants like Jack Lemmon, Spencer Tracy, and contemporary character actors like William H. Macy and Paul Giamatti as influences.  You've picked actors who, by and large, have enormous ranges -- they can play anything.  When do you think their talent became apparent to you as a young person?

TIMOTHY J. COX: What struck me about all of those actors early on and what I think they all have in common is the one thing that I think is important for all truly great acting, and that is truth.  For these particular actors, in every one of their performances, they always convey blunt, honest truth, whether they're likable characters or not.  Even if you don’t like them or their motives, you care about them because they are so, at times, heartbreakingly honest and truthful.  You feel for these guys, because they look and feel so familiar up there on screen.

From the moment I saw Jack Lemmon in Days Of Wine and Roses, I became hooked on acting.  It was such an honest, revelatory performance and yet he, as Joe Clay, did a lot of things in the film that I detested.  I had the same feelings for Harry Stoner in Save The Tiger and especially for Shelley Levine in Glengary, Glen Ross.  They were incredibly flawed men, but I cared about them, because they were so truthful.

These were men who were lost and desperately clinging to an ideal or a dream that was just never going to materialize.  To play that on a stage or on film would be heaven.

Tim with the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in
Promo Pic For 2002's "A Soldier's Death"
FCSFR: You graduated college in 1999 and moved to New York City in 2001 with the hopes of becoming an actor, and worked pretty consistently in theater for the better part of a decade.  What about those years of doing theater as an unappreciated young actor, just starting to get a couple of critical nods, sticks with you today?

TJC: Those really were the best years because, in the beginning, you're hungry.  You're just hungry for any opportunity, for anyone to pick you for anything and I did anything that was thrown at me.  I worked at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in the West Village of New York for two and a half years and in that time I did everything I could to get on stage as much as possible.  I did children shows.  I did Line by Israel Horowitz, which has been running at the theatre for over 40 years.  I did original works and staged readings.  I had a ball.  It was a great opportunity to learn from so many different actors, writers and directors, playing a wide range of parts.  I miss those years.

FCSFR: What about working in theater led you to pursue film?  I understand it wasn't treating you all that well.

TJC: I wouldn't say that the theater was treating me bad, not at all.  You know, for me, I always go where the wind takes me.  When I came to New York, I never thought I'd be a film actor.  When I graduated from college, I thought to myself that if I am a good supporting actor in the theater -- doing the classics, the Chekhov’s, the Shakespeare’s, the Ibsen’s -- I'd be a happy guy, but as time went on, I started to really get into film and get comfortable and confident in front of the camera and from around 2010 on, I've done more film.  I still love the theater because nothing beats that live reaction, but for me, right now, the wind is pushing me in the direction of film.  But that may change tomorrow.

FCSFR: You've done a lot of classic theater as you've mentioned, and a lot of films with very modern sensibilities.  Some other actors with similar backgrounds sometimes carry that around as baggage.  I'm thinking of the Shakespearean actors, like Patrick Stewart for instance, whose acting style is loud and boisterous like he's still trying to be heard from the back of the theater.  Your performances, on the other hand, are much more reserved, more particular to the individual character you're playing.  Where do you think that sensibility comes from?

TJC: I wish I knew.  Seriously.  I really can't put into words how I come around to that way of doing things.

I will say that it was a difficult transition from being primarily a stage actor to then go to film almost exclusively.  When most actors come out of the theatre, it's all about making things as small as possible on film, to almost do nothing and as stage actors, we're trained to project, to use our face, body and voice fully.  On film, everything has to be small.

I think as time has gone on, for me, I've tried to focus on doing as little as possible.  Not acting, but being.  I like to think that I've become more of a re-actor than an actor and to focus as much as possible on listening.  Listening, listening, listening.  That's everything.  That's what made actors like Lemmon and Tracy so extraordinary to watch.  They were great re-actors [and] listeners.

FCSFR: So take me from that period to when you met writer/director Sean Meehan.  

TJC: Sean put out a posting for "Over Coffee", which was the first film we did together in 2010.  We met in a bar in Chelsea and he told me what the project was about and told me about this obnoxious boss character in the film, Hamilton Rice.  The part clicked for me because he was in real estate and a few years before, I had worked in real estate, so characters like Rice -- bombastic and entitled -- were the kinds of characters that I had encountered, so finding Rice and finding those beats within the character was not difficult at all.  It was quite fun to play.

Sean also happened to write a really funny, charming script and when we got on set, I liked his energy and his enthusiasm, the way he interacted with the actors and his crew. After watching him, I had a feeling in my gut that said ‘’This guy’s good, stick with him.’’  So, that’s what I’ve done ever since.

FCSFR: You've worked with Sean on five different film projects, you've appeared in 13 shorts in 2013, 12 more through 2015, and you've got 9 more projects coming this year -- and it's only MARCH.  Tim, by anyone's standards, that's incredibly prolific.  Talk to me about going from a couple shorts here and there to being in demand, and even appearing on TV.

TJC: That’s the magic word right there, prolific. An actor needs to be prolific to enjoy any longevity in this work. I also like to work and try to do so as much as possible, whether it’s a film, play or something on television. I’m an actor. That’s my job.

FCSFR: A lot of actors who are just starting on this career path could learn from your example.  How can an actor grow his brand in an increasingly digital market?  How did you do it?

TJC: Years prior, I resisted having a website and putting things on Facebook because I was always of the feeling, "let the work do the talking," but it is a business and getting your face and name out there, within reason, is important and for me, it’s been very helpful.  It’s tricky though and I try to be extra careful to not make it sound like I’m bragging on my website or my Facebook page.  Believe me, I’m not.  The way I look at it, it’s a journal of my adventures.

Plus, the website has helped me get jobs, so I’m going to stick with it.

FCSFR:  After appearing in so many different projects over such a short time, what's it like to attend an audition with Tim Cox in 2016?  Is it easier than when you started, or is it still the same anxious game?  What gets you through?

TJC: The process has always been the same.  I usually go into an audition with few expectations.  It takes the pressure off.  All I can do is go in and audition as best I can.  If it’s not to be, that’s fine.  Life goes on and the next job is always around the corner.

FCSFR: Now, to draw back from an earlier question -- a lot of your heroes show tremendous range as an actor, but so do you.  Over the years, you've transformed into quite a few characters, from the lunatic in "Simple Mind" to the con man in "Mallas, MA" to Teddy Roosevelt in this year's "Mysteries at the Castle" for TV.  Is it a conscious decision to try to walk a little bit in the shoes of Macy, Giamatti, and even Lemmon?

TJC: I like to push myself, do things that are unique and different, roles that scare me a little.  The talent has to be in the choices an actor makes, the kinds of parts they play.

FCSFR: You've stated in the past -- specifically in an interview over at Movie-Blogger -- that one thing that attracts you to a role is a little bit of danger.  What makes a role exciting and dangerous?  Is there a particular role you've played thus far that would embody that statement?

TJC: When I first read the script for "Simple Mind", the danger and the excitement came from the fact that he was so incredibly quiet and vulnerable, which I think is one of the most difficult things for an actor to convey.  The more I read that script and the more I thought about the character of Bob, not really thinking of him in terms of the serial killer angle, but as this quiet, still, incredibly vulnerable and simple man, the more exciting and clear to me the character became.

FCSFR: And on that note, when you sit down with a role, how do you determine how you're going to play a character?  "Simple Mind", for instance, could have been played very on the nose, but you chose to go for subtlety, which definitely made the movie.

TJC: When I get the script, the first thing I do is map out intentions, objectives and actions for the character.  What is the character fighting for?  What do they want?  It sounds like a simple question, but it's very difficult and it should be difficult to answer.  I write key words and phrases in the margins of my script, little buzz words to help me.  For "Simple Mind", once the character of Bob was clear to me, I knew that I did not want to play him as an over the top, grinning maniac, but as just a normal everyday guy, so I focused on stillness and quiet as much as possible, as to me, there is more menace in the silence, the stillness and the slowness in how he moves, how he carries himself.

FCSFR: One short film with Sean that we haven't mentioned yet is "Socks & Cakes", which I wanted to bring up because of one particular conversation in the film between yourself and Kirsty Meares in the kitchen, which turns out to be the emotional crux of the film. The two of you had terrific chemistry.  How did you prepare for this role?

TJC: Actually, that project was written and directed by a very gifted filmmaker named Antonio Padovan.  I credit "Socks & Cakes" as the film that changed everything.  It was the first film that I did where I knew it was going to be solid.  I just had a hunch, even when we were making the film that this was going to be something special, and to get the strong reactions that the film has received over the years has been wonderful.

I was attracted to the writing, which was so fresh, honest and revealing.  It weaves beautifully between funny, dramatic and sad . . . a lot like life.

Harry was a character, someone that, at that time, I knew I could play. It was the right part at the right time in my life.  I knew this guy.  I was this guy.  Sometimes, a character clicks just right with you and all you have to do is trust the material, trust yourself and trust the people around you and then just do it.  The scene in the kitchen with Kirsty, who's just wonderful in the film, was very difficult for her, as she goes to great emotional heights in the scene.  For me, I had the best seat in the house.  I got to watch, react and listen to this amazing performance.  When you have a scene partner who is that good, you just get swept into the scene.  You're not acting.  You're not Tim and Kirsty.  You're Harry and Amanda.

FCSFR: And on that note, what has been your most challenging role so far and why?

TJC: I think they've all been challenging and they all should be challenging.  Sure, there are some roles that sometimes fit like an old jacket, but once you get into it, there should be challenges.  There must be.  The actor must constantly push [him or herself] and try to bring something different to the table as much as possible. It keeps things interesting, fun and yes, dangerous.

FCSFR: How often do directors contribute to your performances or how you see a character, or have they pretty much let you run with your imagination?

TJC: Having a solid collaboration with your director is everything.  For "Here Lies Joe", director Mark Battle would send messages to me with little tidbits about the character of Bill and these little tidbits would trigger something in me.  Bill is in one scene in that film, but Mark wanted to make him a real, living, breathing character, so I really appreciated the attention he paid to the details.  Details are everything.  They help add color to the character.  Sean does the same thing.  Zachary Lapierre, who directed "Dirty Books", did the same thing.  They'll say a word or a phrase and a switch goes on and I'm off to the races.  Everything is clear.

FCSFR: Is there a particular genre you haven't tried yet or a kind of project you'd love to work on but haven't yet had the opportunity?

TJC: I was never really a fan of westerns as a kid, but over the last couple of years, I've come to really enjoy them, especially the Sergio Leone westerns.  Those are epics.  One western that I really enjoyed was Will Penny, which I think was the best performance Charlton Heston ever gave.

Stories like that, of everyday people, living and fighting in a lawless time . . . that would be exciting to experience.  I don't think I'd be a gunslinger, though.  I think I'd be the Thomas Mitchell or Edmond O’Brien part, the town doctor or newspaper editor.

FCSFR: Last but not least, if you could go back in time to when your younger self first moved to New York City and offer one piece of advice, what would it be?

TJC: Take more chances. Risk more. If you don’t take your shot, how will you know?


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Thanks go out to Tim for taking the time to sit down and partake in this interview -- we'll have to do it again sometime soon!  

My apologies to Sean Meehan and Antonio Padovan for the mixup regarding the writing/directing of "Socks & Cakes".  Both men are incredibly talented filmmakers and you owe it to yourself to check out their work! 

If you haven't had the chance, check out Tim's performances in "Mallas, MA", "Simple Mind", "Socks & Cakes", "Over Coffee", "Total Performance" and "What Jack Built" by clicking on their respective links!

Monday, March 21, 2016

"What Jack Built" A DIY Short Film Take On The Monster Movie Genre

"WHAT JACK BUILT" (2015)
Genre: Horror
Length- 11:16
Company:  N/A

There's something out there in the woods.  Is it an animal?  A force of evil?  We don't know, and perhaps not even Jack (Timothy J. Cox) knows, but he's determined to catch it anyway.  To do this, he's got to use every last bit of ingenuity he can scrape up because it's not going to be easy.

NEW BLOOD

"What Jack Built" is a bare bones project directed, edited and scored by 17 year old filmmaker Matthew Mahler.  He even co-wrote the script with Ross Mahler.  He clearly took the bull by the horns here and created his own vision, and you have to admire something like that out of a new filmmaker, particularly someone so young.

And what we have here is an interesting amalgamation of horror influences.  I detect elements of Sam Raimi's early, wild eyed directorial style and John Carpenter's intensely streamlined storytelling and thumping score.  There's probably more that we could peel out of "What Jack Built", but the point is that Mahler's wearing influences on his sleeve, which is perfectly healthy for a new talent.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE

Where we falter in this short film is in the writing.  There's not much of a story going on -- if you were to describe the story to someone, you could sum it up in two words.  "Jack builds."  That's what you're going to see for 85% of the running time -- actor Cox running around retrieving parts and putting them together.  It's mildly interesting for the first few minutes, but it gets kind of tiring after a while.

One way this period of the film could have been enhanced would have been with the occasional flashback, or a voiceover -- something describing the origins of the monster, or why Jack's obsessed with it in the first place.  As it is, we know nothing about anything, and that stops any kind of emotional involvement we have with what's going on before our eyes.

Bottom line: audiences these days have too many reasons to not watch your movie to begin with, so if you're going to tell a story, we need to know more.  We need a reason to care about the characters.  We need mystery, yes, but we need something to go on WITH the mystery.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1 / 5.  There's not enough story here to pad out the running time, which feels excessively long because it's almost entirely just Jack building a trap.  
Directing: 2 / 5.  I liked the camera movement, but there wasn't a sense of dynamics -- we were pretty much running around the entire time, and it never let up.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  Fast cutting throughout, but the transitions were good and the fade ins and outs worked nicely within the context of the movie.  Alternating longer held shots with some of those fast cutting periods would work wonders to give some dynamics to Mahler's filmmaking.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  I liked the nifty synth score Mahler's come up with -- reminded me of the sort of thing John Carpenter wrote in his prime.  But I have to say that it suffers a little from, again, not enough variety.  It's very upbeat throughout.  If we're going to have tension, sometimes you have to ease up a little.  Let the music breathe.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Cox plays his part well -- a little bit mad scientist, a little bit determined backwoods MacGuyver.  It works.

Final Grade: 2.3 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "What Jack Built" on Vimeo and check out the cast and crew on IMDb!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Satirical "Screwdriver" Lampoons Indian Ban Culture In Universally Funny Short Film

"SCREWDRIVER" (2016)
Genre: Comedy
Length- 13:10
Company:  Quest Mercury

Bhag Sing (Rajesh Nahar) and his wife Neha (Preety Arora) visit his old college buddy Goldie (Afsar Adil) back in India only to find the political landscape changed: a new, overactive socially conscious generation has begun enacting policies which, while done with good intentions, are far too kneejerk to address any real societal ills.

Take for instance the whole reason Bhag came back to begin with -- to share a drink with his friend.   Even drinking alcohol is prohibited on certain days of the week, during elections, on birthdays -- the list goes on.

With nothing much else to do, Bhag decides to go for a ride on his motorcycle.  His kickstart lever falls off, and he goes in search of a screwdriver to fix it.

But wouldn't you know, a series of screwdriver murders has started a new movement to ban the use of this basic tool entirely, and all Bhag can do is watch helplessly as his rights ping pong off the TV screen . . .

THE BEAUTY OF SATIRE

"Screwdriver" is a pure satire written, edited and directed by Vikkramm Chandirramani.  It's a subtitled visual experience delivered with a very light touch, almost child-like with its simple wipe transitions and extended scenes heavy on dialogue and static shots.  We have some really nicely done visual effects during the news broadcasts which amp up the apparent production values and give us something to look at which turns out to be a very good idea because the rest of the film is fairly mundane on an aesthetic level.

But where this film succeeds is ideas.  First of all, I'm American, so to have a sneak peak into India's political climate was fascinating.  But more than that, as soon as the screwdriver conversation pops up, it starts getting more and more funny until I found myself clapping as poor Bhag finds himself the victim of just the sort of ludicrous nonsense that bureaucratic peons would do in such a situation.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil any of the ridiculousness, because it's very funny and you should check it out.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  I was a bit on the edge with this one because yes, the comedic writing is top notch, but the characters themselves have little to do. Goldie disappears after the first few minutes, the beginning is slow, and the finale doesn't resolve anything.
Directing: 2 / 5.  It works out OK, but none of the scenes are visually striking.  We have no real camera movement through the whole film.  The visual effects save the day, essentially.
Editing: 3 / 5.  Some scenes seem overly long.  The transitions are all wipes, which seems an odd choice to me, but it does contribute to the zaniness of the picture.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  Nothing jumped out at me, but nothing made me wince either, so that's good.
Acting: 2 / 5.  Nahar and Adil were off and on in the first scene, but the former improved over the course of the film and put in a decent performance by the end.  Arora did what she could with what she was given.

Final Grade: 2.4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Screwdriver" at its official website and follow the film on Facebook!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An All Too Plausible App Obsessed Future In Wen Ren's Sci-Fi Comedy "Cafe Glass"

"CAFE GLASS" (2015)
Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy
Length- 9:15
Company:  Ocean Sky Media / Black Drone Media

In a near future where the virtual world and reality have begun to overlap, Steve (Devin Goodsell) attempts to meet Capica (Bridgett Luevanos) in real life even though his cell phone app warns him they are utterly incompatible for one another.  So incompatible, in fact, that they are "enemies".  

To make matters worse, there's an Internet failure at the local Wi-Fi cafe, so it seems the would be couple are truly on their own in strange new territory . . .

SAY HELLO TO THE FUTURE

Writer/director/editor Wen Ren is truly the driving force behind the humorous short film "Cafe Glass", which is basically a natural extension of the immersive "app culture" we are becoming.  It's almost a cautionary tale masquerading as a comedy.  The more we become obsessed with filling every empty second with something to look at, something to do, the more we lose in the long run.

This seems to be a philosophy with which Ren agrees, and he takes this in the direction of relationships.  Steve has friends, but they're not friends as we know friends.  Steve sits with a group of guys, but they don't talk to each other.  They are physically present, but not emotionally present.  They are busy doing their own thing, caught up in their own mess of apps and games.

GOODBYE TO ROMANCE -- DYSTOPIAN EDITION

And as far as romance is concerned, forget about it -- there's an app that instantly searches a room and tells you if there's anyone who is compatible with you, or if they'd be an enemy.  Instant search, instant gratification maybe, but without being able to emotionally connect (which how can you do that when no one can pay attention to anything beyond their own nose for five seconds) there's no way you can have a lasting relationship.  Romantic relationships are just as disposable as anything else in this new app obsessed world.

So it is appropriate that Steve and Capica attempt to forge their own relationship without the Internet . . . and maybe by doing so, they'll remember what it means to connect with another human being in the first place.

Consider this: perhaps they are labeled incompatible on the app not because they are enemies to one another, but because their union would make them an enemy of the STATE, since becoming a real, long term loving couple would distract them from the sort of loneliness that would promote an interest in the obsession of the app world that such a "futuristic" dystopia would require to continue to exist.

Boom.

That was your mind exploding.

You're welcome.

NOW THEN, THEN NOW

Yes, I got all that out of a nine minute short film.  It's story behind the story, unmentioned but no less there, and it's that kind of depth that helps fill in the blanks of what could have otherwise been a very cardboard cut out comedy story.

Thanks to some very good filling out of a real cafe, Ren gives us a great illusion of a bustling internet cafe, complete with high tech visuals which are on point with the way apps today are becoming more and more intrusive on our daily lives.  In "Cafe Glass", they truly dig their digital fingers into every waking moment.  Every action has an app attached to it, and it's all rendered beautifully with visual effects designed and supervised by Art Miroshin.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  The unspoken depth of the cautionary tale behind the app crazy world helps elevate the story, which is pretty sparse otherwise.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Nicely integrated visual effects, a lot of Go Pro style first person or tight close up "in motion" shots.  These choices made perfect sense for this picture, and helped add some kinetic energy to the film.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Tightly edited.  The effects are perfect.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  Nice post-pop/electronic soundtrack from Chris Marz.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Good comedic performances from everyone.  Nothing groundbreaking, but it works.

Final Grade:  3.4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Cafe Glass" and follow the creators on Facebook!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"Prego" Laughs At One Night Stands & The Awkwardness of Impending Parenthood

"PREGO" (2015)
Genre: Comedy
Length-13:34
Company:  Digital Magic Entertainment

After a recent break-up, Emily (Katie Vincent) drowns her sorrows in a one night stand with a nice guy she doesn't know.  The problem is that now she's pregnant, and that guy she didn't know turns out to be Mark (Taso Mikroulis), possibly the worst candidate for fatherhood in the entire world.

Regardless, she doesn't have a lot of emotional support, and she's got one person she can turn to, and like it or not, that person's got to be Mark . . .

AWKWARD SILENCE

"Prego" is a short comedy film directed and co-written by Usher Morgan with assistance from Andy Cowan.  It's an exercise in simplicity, both in terms of writing and visual style, but sometimes that's the best way to go for the film you want to make.  "Prego" doesn't need some kind of wacky virtuoso performance behind the camera.  The emphasis here is on the sort of quiet, mundane humor you'll see in TV comedies like "The Office".

The end result is an amusing short that will keep you entertained for the running time of the film.  I liked how Morgan addresses the sort of saccharine Hollywood ending we've come to expect from movies about parenthood, and then takes the story in another direction.

CONCLUSION

So where does love enter into a relationship?  Does it always have to be something that's a foregone conclusion -- you fall in love at first sight, for instance, or you fall in love before having sex?  Can you have a one night stand, and learn to love later?

Do you have to have love at all?  Can't you just work together for the betterment of the little being you've mutually created?

Or maybe life's just one big rollercoaster, and you just have to cling on for the ride, and see if there's a laugh or two that can be squeezed out of the experience.

Maybe so, but at least we can laugh and enjoy!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  Though the storyline has a "been there, done that" feel (most notably in the big budget Knocked Up), the aforementioned fork in the plot toward the end made up for a lot.  The jokes are by and large funny and the characters play off each other in humorous ways.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Simple, but it just WORKS.  Morgan uses a lot of close-ups in his dialogue, and lets his actors do the heavy lifting.  The production values as a whole are high and the film is attractive.  A nod needs to go to Director of Photography Louis Obioha because, despite being limited to one location, we still get some nice images.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Morgan also handles editing duties, and he's cut the film together in about as perfect a fashion as possible.  The pacing is right on the money, and the color correction makes the actors all the more beautiful to watch.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The music comes from a variety of sources, mostly pop and alternative songs which capture a certain mood for the movie.  The sound is recorded professionally.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Both Vincent and Mikroulis put on good performances, with the former in particular being given a role which allows some range.  They play off each other well and it's their offbeat chemistry that makes the film what it is.

Final Grade:  3.4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Prego" at the official Facebook page!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Problem With Dreams Exposed In Short Film Drama "One O'Clock"

"ONE O'CLOCK" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 15:57
Company:  Quichofilms

Teenaged Filipino aspiring actor Randy Ocampo (AJ Padilla) flies to America to try to "make it" in show business where his delusional mother (Amy Savin) failed.  He finds the going much harder than he expected it to be, but at least he's got an audition, so there's still a chance for him to achieve his dreams.

But if it doesn't pan out, he'll have to look more closely at returning home, poorer and with nothing to show for it.

TO CHASE A DREAM

"One O'Clock" is a short film written, directed and edited by 15 year old Miguel Quicho, but it doesn't feel like a student project in the slightest.  There's some rocky road, to be sure, but what Quicho and his cast and crew have accomplished is an impressive feat: a dramatic, subtitled short film that feels like the work of someone much older.

The story is simple, and it unfolds via a series of flashbacks which inform Randy's decision over the course of the film.  He's kicked out of his mother's house for refusing to fund her own dreams of being a famous actress -- as an older woman fixated on physical appearance, Randy decides she has no chance of accomplishing anything with her life so she may as well give up.  It's a pretty bold statement for your protagonist to make, one which could render him unlikeable.  For this viewer, anyway, it didn't do that and in fact added another dimension to the story at hand: when is it right to allow dreams to die?

Should dreams ever die?

It's an unspoken theme, but it gives the audience something to think about.

THE FILM IS THE THING

From a production value standpoint, we have a pretty good visual experience, starting with the handheld shots of the airport.  Using public places lends a film the illusion of a higher budget, and opening the film here was a smart move, especially considering how claustrophobic the rest of the film feels.

So is it a good film?  It's simple, with a predictable conclusion to the single story thread that is present.  The finale doesn't conclude anything, it pretty much just stops.  Without going into spoiler territory, what happens is just one step in a much longer process.  What happens with his mother?  Are they just done?  Will he be more understanding of her now that he knows how brutally hard it is out there for an inexperienced actor?

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  The film is one note struck over and over again -- nothing is resolved, we never see what happens between Randy and his mother, or even his friend, Jess (Rochel Mae Malaca).  I didn't entirely buy the whole countdown timer -- I understood it from a narrative perspective, but why would the casting director (Kristina Burmayan) sit there for three minutes straight like that?  
Directing: 3 / 5.  Quicho is a young director, but he has the basics of filmmaking down and he's perfectly capable of carrying the film and does so with modest energy conveyed through that handheld technique.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Quicho does a great job of editing the film down and keeping the story moving.  
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The score is written by Ruthie Quicho and AJ Padilla.  It does the job.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  The performances here range from bad to amateur.  Padilla and Malaca are probably the strongest thespians on display.

Final Grade: 2.9 / 5.

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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!