The premise of The 100 Hour Project is straightforward: musician Carson Henley, concerned that his life is turning into a bunch of music gigs filled with cover songs and the like, gives himself 100 waking hours to write and record original songs in a studio. Essentially a “s**t or get off the pot” endeavor, Henley knows that there will always be excuses or situations that prevent him from following through, so his best bet is create a scenario where there can be no excuses. He either succeeds, or he doesn’t, and can at least stop thinking about it.
The extended short film follows his writing and recording as he works with family and friends to achieve his goal, and some drama develops, most often between Carson and his sister, another musician who likes to work differently than he does, but for the most part things go pretty smoothly. At 47 minutes, however, the film sits in that short film no man’s land that I’ve discussed in the past (too short to be a feature, too long to be a short).
While the film never suffers from feeling slow or getting boring, does it need to be this long, especially considering the end result? As a documentation of the creation of a number of songs, I understand the want to include as much as possible (and 47 minutes is far less than 100 hours), and I don’t think the film suffers from the running time as other films I’ve seen in similar situations, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t ponder it, and wonder if the running time keeps this as something more for the fans of Henley’s music over some a broader audience can discover, like at a film festival.
In the end, the journey of Carson Henley in his 100 hours is an interesting one, and even if you’re not fond of his music, as a more general exploration and celebration of the act of artistic creation, the film informs and entertains. I applaud the musician for setting the parameters to challenge himself, and then sticking to the experience for us all to see, and filmmaker Brian Nunes gets it all on tape without being obtrusive, giving a real fly-on-the-wall feel. In that way it’s like we’re hiding in the corner, watching the musical magic happen.
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