By Stina Chyn | December 4, 2003

When one goes to a play, one might be tempted to interact with the actors by breaking their concentration or asking them to speak a bit louder. There isn’t the same temptation when one watches a film because the actors cannot hear you. But, sometimes it would be nice if they could respond to your requests that they enunciate and at a higher volume. Such is the case with Jeff Vennard’s short film “Stash,” a commentary on teens, their parents, and marijuana.
Blake (Jon Constantin) is a high school kid whose parents find out that he’s started doing pot. Under the normal run of things, parents would make a drugs-are-bad speech with refrains of have-we-taught-you-nothing. But, under this particular circumstance, both parents grew up in the 60s and weren’t exactly drug-free themselves. The result of Blake and his parents’ discovering each other’s drug experimenting is awkwardness.
Vennard aims to manipulate this uncomfortable atmosphere and shape it into dark humor. In fact, the verbal exchanges Blake has with his parents and one of his friends are probably very funny. Unfortunately, Vennard’s efforts are lost in soft audio tracks. The hip-hop musical accompaniment is loud and clear, so is about half of the dialogue. The other 50% of the spoken words, however, are inaudible. Increasing the screening console’s volume does not help because doing so makes the background noise louder. If “Stash” was a play, and similar aural problems were present, you could probably pester the actors until they pause out of character for a second, look in your direction, and say “can you hear me now?” You’d then thank the actor for his cooperation and let him get back to his monologue. Too bad you can’t do the same thing when watching “Stash” the film.

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