Written, Produced & Directed by David Hastings
Starring Steve Salt, Charlie Clarke, Ernest Vernon
Short Film Review by Taryll Baker
GRID is what I’d call the perfect short film, if there were ever such a thing. Within it’s 26 minute duration, it manages to accomplish so much. The main bulk of the film consists of two conversations; one running just over 15 minutes. Angie Wordsworth (Charlie Clarke) meets Daniel (Steven Salt), a patient cruelly afflicted with the then-unidentified AIDS virus. Over the course of their meeting, a touching bond is formed.
There’s two ways a dialogue-driven film could go. It could be interesting, investing, or it could be boring, uneventful. Luckily, David Hastings is a talented writer, and has the skill required to intrigue and entertain. But it’s the performances from the three lead actors that really sell it. Charlie Clarke, Steven Salt and Ernest Vernon take great care in the deliverance of lines. The pauses, the eyes, the body language. It’s all beautifully played out, and entirely convincing.
As well as writing the screenplay, Hastings sits behind the camera as director. He works beside director of photography and score composer, Joshua LA Baggott, who captures the mood perfectly, both visually and musically. There’s a tremendous warmth present in Baggott’s original synth-driven score. It’s a nod to the classic soundtracks of the ‘80s, and becomes a very well-suited and impactful supplement. He and Hastings seem to have a strong professional relationship, which is visible in the final product.
Alongside its successful beats, are some technical issues; one of which was lighting. There’s a couple shots in the middle of the film where the grading was slightly too dark, nothing drastic, but just enough to be jarring. That said, with a film on this scale, I wouldn’t expect any reshoots or further editing to take place, especially when taking budget into account. The other issue was sound. There were a few moments I had to adjust my volume accordingly. This is a potentially easy fix, and possibly something James Hall and Chris Armitage had discussed, but it was only something that jumped out to me personally.
In retrospect, I found GRID highly entertaining. It’s a subtle, important look at how illness can change not only the individual, but the people around them. To quote the film’s description; “in our darkest moments, humanity & love will always find a way to shine through.” Watch this film with that one sentence in mind. It’s wonderfully crafted and lovingly handled by all involved.