Directed by #SteveHerold
Death of an Umbrella Salesman is a 2019 short film, written by Steve Herold and James L. Palmer. The umbrella salesman in question is Stanley Grimp, although he doesn’t enjoy his job nor is he very good at it. We see Mr. Gimp go door-to-door desperately trying to make a sale. With each door shut in his face, the stronger the desperation grows.
The film is seemingly set in the modern day, judging from the use of mobile phones and online shopping, yet the rest of the film feels very vintage. Initially, I thought his film was set in the 40s or 50s, this was mostly likely due to the way some people speak and more so because of the black and white filter over the film. For some reason, this filter was very refreshing to see, and I appreciated the old-school feel of the film.
Steve Herold also directed this film, whilst Jessica Gurney and Logan Hodson were directors of photography... so I’ll give the credit to these crew members for the great shots and locations used for the film. Some of the locations used were really eye-catching, such as the walls with graffiti, and usually relevant. Even the regular locations were still perfect for the moments in which they were used. I also really liked the shots used; they were just fun and varied, especially the first scene which consisted of various shots of doors being slammed into Stanley Grimps’ face. This is definitely a farcical film; which becomes more evident as the film goes on with the use of slow-mo shots, as well as the obstacles that the salesman faces. Admittedly, some things are over the top cringe-worthy, but most of the humour is actually humorous.
The main cast members were Kevin Kolack and Sabrina Gennarino, respectively playing Stanley Grimp and Miss Betsy May Morgan. The character of Stanley Grimp is such an unfortunately pathetic one, that you can’t help but sympathising with him. Kolack had mostly good comedic timing and was able to pull off poor performance skills during a scene where he makes a bad sales pitch. Being able to convincingly perform an intentionally bad performance ironically requires a lot of acting skills, so well done to Kolack! Gennarino’s southern accent was very charming and she certainly played the role of a polite southern lady very well.
Aside from one scene that played out to the sound of some sort of marching drum roll instrumental, the soundtrack of this film mainly consisted of a single little ditty that was produced by John J. Yohimbe. This piece, also an instrumental, was very simple but this worked so well with the mundane and disappointing events occurring for Mr. Grimp. Although, during more serious moments, the light-hearted music became uncomfortable to listen to; I don’t think this was a bad decision, sometimes the stark contrast between two elements of a film draw more attention to the scene and what could happen. It keeps the audience engaged and on the tips of their toes.
Death of an Umbrella Salesman won Best Screenplay at the Sydney Indie Film Festival and was awarded with a Special Merit at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase too, this doesn’t surprise me. I really enjoyed watching this short, the shots were engaging and the story made you wonder what was going to happen next. Although, the film has a tendency to make light of some serious and sensitive themes, this could be considered distasteful to some viewers. Nevertheless, overall it was a skilfully made production and I do recommend giving it a watch!