Dreams are a powerful entity. It can be a great motivator pointing toward a better life, or it can devastate a person, when unfulfilled. Writer/director Robert Bell III tells the tale of Hoop Carter in his short film, Hoop. At seven-years-old, Hoop’s (Na’eem Bond) sole devotion is basketball. He’d sit home alone, watch tapes, and idolize his father, a professional basketball player— the father he never knew.
Hoop’s brother, Dean (Stephan DeKemper), was on the path to playing basketball beyond high school, but an injury quickly ended that dream. When Dean asks Hoop, “why do you want to play ball?” Hoop responds, “So, I can leave.”
“…Hoop is sixteen and trying out for an inner-city basketball travel team.”
Jump nine-years later, Hoop (Nysem Spurell) is sixteen and trying out for an inner-city basketball travel team. The team’s head coach (Kevin J. Harris) demands nothing less than success from his players and from his recruits as well. But is Hoop’s talent, pedigree, and desires enough to join this prestigious team?
Robert Bell’s story of Hoop is about dreams and the danger of putting all your hopes on that single dream. Where Hoop succeeds in its storytelling is in the integrated way that Bell tells his story.
First, Hoop is a true indie film in its spirit and in the way it’s shot. Bell makes effective of every filmmaker’s toolbox including the use of color, sounds, music, and shot composition in telling each “chapter” of his short. Flashback’s of seven-year-old Hoop are presented in a soft-focused, muted-blue, dreamlike tone. Team tryouts for the sixteen-year-old bring the camera literally into the center of the action.
“…makes effective of every filmmaker’s toolbox including the use of color, sounds, music, and shot composition…”
The way the film is shot feels amateurish. It has an 8mm handheld feel to it. There are no sharp, crisp images you get when you think of the word “professional,” but what Hoops lack in a big-budget production, only adds to the theme of “dreams.”
It’s piano soundtrack also complements the story by bringing melodrama to the quiet moments. If that wasn’t enough, Bell brings in audio clips from other films and outside sources, including a sort of sci-fi Frankenstein element.
Hoops is a fascinating short to watch. As you can tell, it’s hard to describe in words, because its story is told with very few words. Experimental is probably the right term for Hoops. Every element is deliberate. The entire film relies on pictures, sounds, color, and acting to work together as commentary about the real struggle in the inner city.