By Daulton Dickey | July 14, 2005

David Milken is more than a photographer. He is an artist. He paints with the acrylic lens of his camera, striving for perfection in each shot, struggling to create masterpieces out of the faces he portrays in his work. Each day, he must overcome the challenge of exploiting what little light his studio offers and using it to his advantage. His dream is to have a window installed behind his station, so he can channel the sunlight and enlighten every picture. But the higher-ups won’t allow. Oh no, bureaucracy wins again.

David is the man responsible for taking photos at the DMV, tired of those dreaded pictures that usually appear on licenses, he seeks to transcend the bland photograph and transform every license into a work of art. But his boss stands in his way. She doesn’t want art. She wants him to take pictures as fast as possible, one every seventy five seconds. But when his boss has to renew her license, he is assigned to take her picture and, he knows, nothing good can come of it.

“Artistic License” is a masterfully executed comedy about one man who lives and thinks outside the box. The direction is spot on, subtly milking the script’s laughs and charm in lieu of exploiting it by hamming everything up. The actors are top notch, David Lago, who plays Milken, is a professional caliber actor and hopefully this will garner him work in larger projects. And the same can be said for every actor in this film, from Jennifer Echols, who plays the boss, to Heather Fox, who plays a bitchy co-worker; these are just fantastic performances all around.

Shot in 2.35:1, the cinematography is the most effective part of the short. Beautifully lit, the style faithfully recreates the overexposed, fluorescent lighting of a DMV. And the compositions of the shots, not to mention the fluid, often professional level, camera movement is the best this reviewer has seen thus far in a short film. Hopefully, the men and women involved in “Artistic License” are working on a feature in some capacity—be it for a studio or independent of Hollywood—because this reviewer would love to see how well everyone works in a project three times as long as this wonderful short.

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