Sometimes a screener pops up in our film submission system that you know from the first minute is not going to win any awards. At the same time, though, you can see the filmmakers’ earnestness in ultimately the final product. I picture in my mind them screaming with joy, “We made a movie.” That’s the sense I got after watching Johnny O’Donnell’s sci-fi short, Shocker.
The premise is simple. A couple, Gary (Johnny O’Donnell) and Lisa (Georgina Minter-Brown) experiment with a new device that produces a euphoric high through electricity. I suppose it’s a cleaner, more exhilarating, method than injecting street narcotics.
Pleasure comes when the right combination of voltage and current is sent coursing through the body. Gary says, “The current is the syringe, and the voltage is the drug.” Soon, Gary gives Lisa her first dose resulting in an unexpected result.
“…a new device that produces a euphoric high through electricity.”
Shocker is a super-low budget as its probably filmed in someone’s kitchen with makeshift props. O’Donnell did spend some money as the “Shocker” box was rigged using working dials, gauges, some lighting effects, and a very low-budget paint job. There’s a “Step-Up Transformer” box that looks like a car battery painted yellow with “Step-Up Transformer” written in black marker.
I’m not going to tell you that Shocker is good or brilliant, especially in comparison with the dozens of other low-budget shorts we receive each month. We already talked about the props, but the acting could have sounded more natural, the look of being electrocuted could have worked out better, and maybe some color correction would have been helpful. All to say, I’ve seen better.
But in the end, a lot of love went into the O’Donnell’s short and it shows. The simplistic props? Clearly, more time went into building the Shocker device than what others may have done. As crazy as the electrifying performances were, O’Donnell and Minter-Brown went for it. They made it real.
We tell filmmakers and actors all the time, if you want to break into the business, you’ve got to make films. Shocker may not be the greatest film ever made, but it was made, and clearly, effort and heart went into the short and that counts.
"…a lot of love went into the O’Donnell’s short and it shows."