DEATH OF AN USHER
Directed by Michael Tamman, Written by Seth Sinclair (who also plays our protagonist)
England, 2011, 4 minutes
This 4 minute short is the story of an usher, who's trying to be an actor. After a string of unsuccessful auditions, he gets a call from his agent while at work and finally has another shot. He has to run to his audition which turns out to be for the greatest and most intimidating directors of them all.
When I looked over the list of films I would be seeing at the festival, this was one of the ones I was most looking forward to. There quite a few that I really liked (including A Wink of the Eye, UnderCover, and Masks) and when I first saw this one, I must admit to be surprisingly and disappointingly unimpressed and rather indifferent. The short happens extremely abruptly. It seemed to write off what it was trying to say extremely quickly. I felt like I had gotten attached to Michael, only to have him ripped from my fingers in mere minutes. That was one of the things this short managed to do well right off the bat. It made its protagonist extremely likable right from the start. However, that was also its downfall at first for me. Liking Michael made this short extremely unfair and frustrating.
It was during the Q&A session with the filmmakers that it hit me. Both Tamman and Sinclair were present and I knew I needed to ask a question, to somehow resolve some of the disappointment and frustrations I had been harboring. Then I realized: Michael could have been on his way to the audition of his life, his big break, and he was so young. What was the commentary on someone dying so young and so unfairly? (To be fair and clear, this short does not treat the death sadly and in fact, the end is quite funny but I obviously had to take a more serious stance with it.)
Tamman answered my question and with his answer, that was when my appreciation for this film grew tenfold. He mentioned that we need to laugh at the dark times and appreciate what we have now. It was a bit of a carpe diem moment. I realized how right he was and it changed how I viewed the film entirely. He said he wanted to make people chuckle in a few minutes and he definitely accomplished that. With his answer to my question, though, he made me do a lot more than chuckle.
As for filmmaking, I thought this short was a very smooth film in terms of shots and angles and how the camera was positioned throughout the film. It flowed very well for me. I particularly loved the beginning of the film, with the staccato shots as an introduction to our protagonist for the very first time. Overall, I think this was the perfect example of jumping the gun upon a first viewing of a film and not taking the time to really think about it. Eventually, I really grew to love this film.