Directed by Calum Young
Starring Calum Young, Kieran Egan, Jessica Young, Kathryn Hough
Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
A quirky piece of metacinema, Blank tells the story of Mike’s attempts to create a short film for his university project. In pursuit of an ‘original’ idea, he spends a month achieving nothing, until five minutes before the deadline.
Judging by the comments on Youtube, the film replicates the real-life situation Calum Young himself faced when tasked with creating a short film. Blank begins with a black and white shot of a train derailing: a fitting, tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the plot of this film perhaps. The opening montage introduces us to Mike, a typical student (complete with missing alarm clock), who is keen to skip the ‘theory’ of his film course and get on to actually making something. Yet when he tries to put pen to paper to draft out his ideas, nothing happens.
What follows is a series of separate montage-nods to the world of film, as Mike ponders possible ideas for his project. None of the clichés are missed. There are X-Factor-style voice-overs, Baz Luhrmann inspired captions, and Marvel-esque character concepts. If you like films or are taking film studies, Blank almost becomes a game to spot the inspiration behind the scene.
This film is unlikely to set the short film world on fire, but for what it is, it is done with some nice camera-work and some light humour. At times the camera work is better than nice in fact, particularly during the runaway-train montage and it’s clear some thought has gone into the cutting and editing of that section to create pace and intensity. The use of the animations, akin to the opening credits of an A-Team film, looks great too and I almost fancied a superhero-inspired short featuring ‘Staff Sergeant Baxter’ and ‘Queen Raven’, until the giant toy robot appeared. The soundtrack too includes some fitting choices, with tracks from Thin Lizzy and The Cult. In all, there’s some skill here, but the storyline: a film about a boy trying to make a film, is ultimately loose, though appropriate for the metacinema concept. It’s just that this plot doesn’t allow the film to develop any one sequence or technique, which leaves the audience feeling a little ambivalent about it. The audio-balancing needs some work in places too.
Overall, for a university project about the difficulties involved in filmmaking, this short has some plus points, but a stronger plot will be required to get the next project on track.