After brother Fran (Hamish Crosser) dies in a hit-and-run incident, aspiring filmmaker Geoffrey (James Wilson) tries to cope with the tragedy by making a film dedicated to his brother. Unfortunately, the film starts to fall apart as cast and crew abandon the project, and Geoffrey suffers from conflicting emotions regarding his brother’s old girlfriend, Giovanna (Natalie Buckett), continued stress regarding his drug-addicted mother (Rebecca Crofts) and his own prolonged process of mourning.
Davis and Dennis Fang’s short film, Oh My, tries for ambitious drama, but is often undercut by the inexperience on the part of the filmmakers themselves or the actors on screen, who are asked to show more nuanced emotion than they are capable of sharing at this point in their young careers. Simply, the film aims for complexities that all involved aren’t quite ready to convincingly create.
For the most part, the film does a good job of differentiating between past and current elements, such as flashbacks with Fran and Giovanna, or Fran and Geoffrey, but in some cases the color palettes match too much and, if you don’t catch the edit change-up, you find yourself somewhat lost. A sequence in the school, where Geoffrey thinks he sees his dead brother Fran, is followed immediately by a lengthy sequence with Fran in school, that comes across less like a memory, or even a look into the past, than it does a continuing moment in the current timeline. In other words, the timelines suddenly feel too muddled.
The film also missteps in regard to casting in two particularly egregious incidents. In the same sequence mentioned above, Fran visits the school counselor’s office and the counselor is played by another young actor, seemingly the same age as the student. Likewise Fran and Geoffrey’s mother is played by yet another young actor. This might work in a school play, where all roles on stage are filled with the students and thus a certain amount of disbelief is automatically suspended, but in a short film it just comes off as terribly confusing. It’s a fatal mistake, if one hopes for their film to be taken seriously.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but once a short film crosses the twenty minute threshold, it begins to enter No Man’s Land; too long for a short, too short for a feature. Practical issues include decreased chances in being programmed at a film festival (quality being equal, a fest will aim to program more short pieces in the place of one longish one; a thirty minute short, for example, is worth three ten minute shorts), and unless you’re aiming for television sweet spots around twenty-two or forty-four minutes long, then you’re out of luck in that regard too. Oh My is roughly thirty-five minutes long; regardless of all its other problems, it is, frankly, dead in the water for any form of distribution outside of self-distribution.
I’m inclined to think, due to the age and experience of the filmmakers (this film was made during high school, something playfully mocked by one of the filmmakers recently), that what we’re seeing are filmmakers learning on the job, as it were. In that regard, mistakes are to be treasured for what can be learned from them, and thus much can be taken away from this one. There are the practical elements to consider for improvement (running time, differentiating past and current narratives, casting), but also the positive signs. The use of visual composition is strong, and the film does try to elevate itself to being more than just people acting in front of a non-moving camera. There is an energy to it, even if it doesn’t sustain all the way through. There’s creative ambition here that is currently greater than the sum of the filmmakers’ resources or experience, but when they all finally come together at a future date, we might really have something.
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