Directed by: Dan Ollerhead Starring: Charles Streeter, Johnny Vivash and Ben Syder Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
Jagwar Films brings us one of their latest projects from director Dan Ollerhead: Radio Silence; and while the title might be cliché, the premise and the tension certainly are not.
Hosting the late late night, or perhaps it’s more early morning, show, is Mike: a well-spoken, well-meaning radio DJ who hosts the local radio talk show. But even Mike, amiable and chirpy on microphone, is not fooled into thinking his show is popular, when even his technician rolls his eyes at just about everything he says or does. Mike’s first call tonight offers him the opportunity to chat with a man who hates his neighbours – juicy perhaps – until the caller reveals himself to be a racist and the call accidentally-on-purpose gets cut off. The second call comes from a group of youths chanting ‘your show is shit’ down the line – this could be another long night for Mike. But then caller three dials in. Caller three is also called Mike, and he wants to kill himself ...
Ollerhead has created a wonderfully dark bubble both visually and emotionally in Radio Silence, forcing us to join DJ Mike in this nightmare ten minutes of radio. The set is close and dark with only the light from the ‘on air’ sign and the tech-table illuminating the action. Mike and his technician are uncomfortably close to each other in this small space. Incessantly, the ticking from Mike’s watch can be heard throughout the film, grating on you throughout and intensifying the anxiety that builds as DJ Mike desperately tries to find out anything he can to help him alert the police to caller Mike’s whereabouts. As the tension in the conversation heightens, the camerawork gets closer, placing DJ Mike and his microphone centrally, a spotlight above reflecting this metaphorical moment when he is the only one who can help. The cuts to various listeners (a taxi driver, a nurse, a student) is really effective, providing some relief from the intensity of the radio studio, but also reminding us of the passivity of the situation – no one knows who this man is – no one can help stop what he is going to do, and our empathy for both characters increases.
The acting from Streeter is excellent throughout, particularly as he dawdles between believing this call is real and believing its a wind-up, but slowly, slowly, through the real-time, ten minute conversation, Streeter helps build that tension to the climax, confidently and with genuine feeling for the desperateness of the situation. Vivash should also be commended for conveying the desperation, but also determination of a man at the end of his wits, using just his voice and the sound quality of this is excellent – it sounds like we are listening to our own radios.
This is a quality piece of filmmaking which offers a genuine experience for the audience – not easy in under twenty minutes!