Wonderwall

Tommy (Wyatt Walsh) has let his little crush on Katherine (Rose Hanish) turn into a full-blown obsession. I suppose it doesn’t help hormonally-speaking that they’re scene partners in their school play. Alex Conn’s teen comedy, Wonderwall opens with Tommy doing what the romantically desperate do…talking to himself about his soon-to-be soulmate Katherine. That is until he’s interrupted by said Katherine as she introduces her boyfriend, James (Alex Conn) to him. Yikes! Playing it cool, Tommy excuses himself to go throw-up in the restroom.

As Tommy is vomiting, he is confronted, I mean comforted, by his best friend, Rory (Andrew Yarrow). Like any good bro, Rory counsels his friend, first through emasculation, and then with teen reason. He exhorts Tommy to move on and that Katherine is not meant to be with him. Having none of it, Tommy shoves Rory out of his way and makes one final very-public romantic gesture to win the heart of his love. Is love awaiting young Tommy?

“…doing what the romantically desperate do…talking to himself about his soon-to-be soulmate…”

The initial step on the road to becoming a filmmaker is the all-important first film. I assume this is writer/director Alex Conn’s first. Let’s be honest, the production values on Wonderwall is as low budget as it gets. Most likely shot at his school and likely captured with cell phone cameras. He also takes advantage of access to the school’s black box stage. If anything, this shows Conn and friends’ resourcefulness in making a short film with zero budget.

Overall, Wonderwall exhibits many problems associated with first-time filmmakers. Most scenes are wide shots of characters engaged in conversations when close-up of each character’s dialogue would help break up the monotony. It would also help to work toward getting camera phones with better image quality, sound recording equipment for consistency in audio, and lighting.

Next on the list is shot composition. Near the start when Tommy is talking to Katherine and James, most of the conversation is shot over the shoulder of Katherine and James. Tommy’s nervous rocking has him out of the shot half the time as he’s hidden by Katherine’s head. Move that camera around. Shoot the group and then grab single shots of each character. Then edit it all together. Editing allows you to control the pacing of dialogue and multiple takes allow you to choose the best takes.

“Give us just enough of what happens afterward to bring the story to an interesting end.”

Lastly, this is Tommy’s story of obsession and the embarrassing length he’ll go to find love. The premise is not all that new, so the trick is finding a new way to tell that story. This requires taking risks in script development, which entails writing a script and then rewriting the script injecting your unique perspective on the subject as well as input from your friends and collaborators. Without giving any details away about the ending, Wonderwall leads to a big final moment for Tommy, and then it just fades to credits. Resolution would help. Give us just enough of what happens afterward to bring the story to an interesting end.

The fact is Wonderwall has problems. Like every first film, recognize those problems, find solutions, and apply it to the next film and the next and the next. The basic journey of every brilliant artist.

Wonderwall (2018) Written and directed by Alex Conn. Starring Wyatt Walsh, Andrew Yarrow, Rose Hanish, Alex Conn.

3 out of 10 stars

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