I don’t want to be disparaging against any indie filmmaker. I know they don’t have the resources that big studios have at their disposal. I understand that sometimes they don’t have an experienced crew to rely on for expertise and support, and I know that it’s hard to find actual actors on a minuscule budget. Sometimes you have to rely on putting yourself and your friends in front of a cheap digital camera and hope for the best. I understand that struggle because as a film student over a decade ago I lived that struggle. I found my strength in writing, not on set or behind the camera. I don’t consider myself a filmmaker anymore, but I can still watch something and draw from my knowledge and education well enough to competently do my job as a film critic. With that out of the way, Orb of Reality looks like a film that I would have made during my earliest days at film school. It has terrible editing, no semblance of sound design, and horrible cinematography and lighting.
“…doesn’t display anything interesting, it’s all disappointingly clumsy.”
The short film is written and directed by Apostoly P. Kouroumalis (who also goes by Toly A.K.), based on a book also written by Kouroumalis called All Purpose. The short begins with a very poorly recorded and clipping guitar riff over shaky footage of a butterfly. The title credits begin to roll, and it’s below rudimentary. The credits notate Kouroumalis used Windows Video Maker to edit, and it definitely shows. Some people can use basic programs like WVM and iMovie to make some incredibly creative work, but Kouroumalis doesn’t display anything interesting, it’s all disappointingly clumsy. The camera is out of focus and desperately needs to be color balanced. Next, we see an attractive woman staring off into the distance as the camera gauchely shakes. We then get a weakly placed dissolve. Next comes a voiceover from Kouroumalis himself, and it’s beyond incoherent. I have no idea what this story is supposed to be, it all comes off as nonsense. We have lines like “Ken and Barbie go around plugging every hole.” and “People are dead inside. The Zombies rule the earth and they’re feeding on each other like Cracker Jacks.” Couple this with the abundant audio issues and this whole thing comes off as overly pretentious and laughably inept. Kouroumalis sounds like he’s doing a bad impression of Billy Bob Thornton’s character from Sling Blade. His mumbling is again, not helped by the low-quality audio. His character sulks around in various locations, doing nothing of note, and Kouroumalis desperately tries not to look directly into the camera when he’s not supposed to. His attempts make his movement and expressions undeniably unnatural. There’s also a scene where our lead character walks down the street, but he’s walking inside a white box. I’m fairly certain he was going to try and superimpose himself into the background, but he just didn’t know how to pull it off. We’re also shown images of random things like a sink leaking water and a pencil being jabbed down into a piece of paper. These shots linger way too long. If these are nods to David Lynch’s surrealist style, they come off as an amateurish parody.
“I have no idea what this story is supposed to be…”
Orb of Reality just ends abruptly with virtually no fanfare. We get a rushed dissolve that drives us into the epilogue. The epilogue involves a conversation between the woman from the beginning and our lead character. The audio is at its worst here, and I couldn’t understand what was being said even after putting on headphones. This is just as sloppy as sloppy gets. I can barely decipher a single thing, and the things I did get were just a hodgepodge of purple prosy nonsense. The credits roll, and I’m baffled from what I just witnessed. There’s a note in the credits that states that the project was created with minimal amounts of equipment and that the filmmaker could have rented equipment, but he wanted to come from a different perspective that minimizes quality and maximizes time and effort. This comes off as an extremely flimsy excuse to me. Better things have been shot with an iPhone. Better audio has been captured on a $15 recorder you can get on Amazon.
I want Apostoly P. Kouroumalis to know I’m not trying to bash him. I’m not trying to come off as mean or catty. Kouroumalis has a lot to learn and a long way to go. I respect his DIY attitude, I absolutely do, but he needs to take classes, soak in feedback, learn the strengths and limitations of his equipment and editing software, as well as study other low budget filmmaker’s techniques and philosophies. Robert Rodriguez’s book, Rebel Without a Crew is a worthy teaching tool I’d suggest every aspiring filmmaker own and memorize. I wish Kouroumalis well with his career, and I hope he finds the perseverance to keep going, but at this point, his work is undoubtedly too substandard and shoddy to enjoy.
Orb of Reality (2018) Written and Directed by Apostoly Peter Kouroumalis. Starring Apostoly Peter Kouroumalis, Jimena Osorio.
1 out of 10