Directed by: #MichaelTurnbull
Written by: #BenAldis
Turning the streets of London into a game of cat and mouse, short film Empty Encounters, directed by Michael Turnbull and written by Ben Aldis is an atmospheric if clunky crime drama.
Henry Kamwenje plays Spencer, an offish introvert who gets asked to locate a missing girl (Megan Mulheir) by her anxious friend (Pippi Chartres). As he traverses the city with a two hour deadline and comes across numerous and peculiar characters, Spencer starts to discover a world of loneliness and intrigue.
Keeping a peppy pace and an immersive atmosphere, Turnbull harbours a knack for mood (see his impressive short The Sea Monsters Funeral). He extracates a decent performance from lead actor Henry Kamwenje, whose solitary search is mostly compelling.
Regrettably, Empty Encounters is riddled with amateurish dialogue and enough crime cinema tropes to offend #GuyRitchie. It was filmed as part of the National Youth Film Academy, there was no budget and limited time (shooting took place over three and a half days) and for many of the cast and crew this was a starting point. Given the constraints, the attempt is not half bad and there are moments that worked - such as Spencer's repartee with a record shop worker (Jessie Jones) and his scenes with Pippi Chartres were tinged with emotion and poignancy. However, too many of the scenes felt like a school drama lesson whereby the students were forced to put something together quickly before they had to get to P.E.
The #filmmakers utilise the city well, giving London its own sense of character within the story. There is a bold use of numerous locations given the budget, which would normally be a big mistake for newbies. However, with Empty Encounters, the plethora of places was instrumental in capturing the frenetic and chaotically charged tone of the plot. The score was dramatic and worked well to enhance the experience for the viewer.
Rarely do these kinds of projects produce anything jaw dropping and Empty Encounters is no exception. The constrictions which are there to fine tune filmmakers of the future seem to stifle creativity at the most fundamental level - the writing. It will be interesting to see what Turnbull's next project is as well as the rest of the cast and crew, and here's hoping they all have a few more resources to play with.
Watch the official movie trailer for Empty Encounters below.