Knowing that Sticky Toffee Pudding (I’m lost on the title’s meaning) is the first film for its cast and crew, it’s quite an impressive accomplishment. Though it’s packed with lots of story, there’s a lot of attention placed on each character’s story. It’s dense but never feels overdone. The heart and emotion of each story come out as well. Ultimately, it is a story about high school life.
At the same time, as good as the story is, there are mistakes made that are not uncommon to first-time filmmakers, particularly films with a small to non-existent budget. First, the film is shot with a handheld camera, and there’s a lot of shaking going on, especially with scenes involving walking. It’s not Blair Witch-bad, but it’s noticeable. There were also sound issues where dialogue sometimes fights with ambient noise and room reverberation.
Editing is also an issue, not necessarily with the overall story, but with the construction of certain scenes. When Ariel drops the photo of Moses and Roisin picks it up, movements are missing creating awkward jumps in action. And quite frankly, shot composition could have used a bit of attention. Again, rookie mistakes.
“The heart and emotion of each story come out as well. Ultimately, it is a story about high school life.”
As much as I liked the story, I struggled over issues of character development. The best way to say it is…we have a story of seven characters, and we see them doing things, having conversations, and dealing with what the story throws at them. But what we need (upfront) is a reason to connect and care about the characters. Shelby lost his best friend. Sure, we’ve all been there. Other than feeling depressed, how did this event change him? What was he like before? Also, Charles is the aggressive one of the gang and liberally uses the F-word against Ariel. Why? What’s his background? In a way, each character is a basic stereotype in need of being fleshed out as dynamic characters.
The best experience that a first-time director, writers, actors, and crew can get from their first film is making said first movie. Sticky Toffee Pudding is a great start. It’s clear that a great deal of effort was put into the script, the actors loved their characters, and everyone involved rallied together to make this feature film. It reeks of hard work and dedication across the board. Now it’s a matter of identifying the weaknesses, turn them into strengths, and make that next film.
"…reeks of hard work and dedication across the board."