A Photographer lacks inspiration for his work and takes a dark turn as his sanity begins to crumble in this 13 minute short. This movie might not hit every note perfectly but it is an interesting journey into the depths of human nature.
Harlan (Pascal Yen-Pfister) is a French photographer struggling with ‘Photographer writers-block’. He lives with his wife (Rhea Sandstrom) who supports the couple and pays for their small apartment in New York City. Harlan has been having disturbing dreams and is struggling with his current assignment. After a meeting with his agent, W.D. Frost (Timothy J. Cox), Harlan decides to take some more personal shots of his wife and his life at home. His agent seems a little disturbed and concerned with his work and tells Harlan to go back and revisit the client brief. However a struggling Harlan spirals out of control and loses touch with reality which has devastating consequences.
Writer/director Chai Dingari isn’t scared to explore some interesting sides of human nature in this short. At 13 minutes long it packs a lot of stuff in there. Some things could have been explored further given more time but we see enough to understand the situation and the story. I did enjoy the film, particularly the slightly disturbing re-telling of Harlan’s dream and meetings with W.D. Frost, these really helped to keep the story progressing as it allowed us to see another side of Harlan’s character and about his past and his state of mind. I thought that more could have been done with Harlan’s wife in the film. She was not really given much development which meant in the final act, when she had her fatal confrontation with Harlan it did not have the impact it should have done. Given the length of the movie this can be forgiven though.
Some of the outdoor shots gave us some excellent use of cinematography. Using New York City as a back drop will always give an interesting and appealing shot. We have some particularly nice ones here. Some of the highlights for me were the walk to the Talent agency to see his agent and while Harlan was scouting the streets of New York for inspiration. During the film there were one or two shots that suffered from a few lighting issues, but given the $1,000 budget this can be forgiven. Also I felt some shots in the small apartment were slightly awkward, but with such a small space to work with these things are unavoidable.
I really enjoyed the music in this short. It was very well suited and helped to set the scene, amplifying what was happening on screen. We commend Andrew Coller for his efforts in that department.
Pascal Yen-Pfister as Harlan was a good fit. He played the artistic photographer starved of creative inspiration just about right. He came across as moody and conflicting, struggling to find enthusiasm for his work. Harlan’s wife, Rhea Sandstrom, was not really given a lot to work with. She did a good job with what she had but I didn’t really feel much chemistry on screen between the two, which I think was part of the problem with the outcome of the movie not having the impact it should have had.
Timothy J. Cox gave a fine performance as the talent agent W.D. Frost. I enjoyed the meetings he had with Harlan, particularly the second meeting, we had some classic expressions while Frost was looking through the photos.
I thought the story was interesting and the parts were all well acted out. Some more development of Harlan’s wife could have helped to build the character more and give her a little more meaning. Also there were one or two small technical issues, mainly due to lighting. Maybe increasing the run-time of this short to about 20 minutes could have given the necessary time to develop the characters and the story a little more. Overall though, I did enjoy this movie and given the small budget I feel that they did a good job with what they had to work with.