Directed by Harry Plowden
Starring Joe Pass, Olivia Hodson and Kalina Kolchevska
Short Film Review by Daniel Reason
Social anxiety is, unfortunately, something that affects many. Due to that anxiety, the most mundane of tasks can seem like a difficult one because of the potential for interaction with others. When one has little confidence in oneself, what they consider to be “bad” about themselves can have a massive impact on how they communicate with new people. Harry Plowden aims to demonstrate how even the most usual of things can trigger a reaction in his short film, Self Conscious.
What makes Self Conscious so strange is that its biggest strength is also its main weakness. As it focuses purely on this one event, it doesn’t offer much more than that, which prevents any real need to re-watch it. Of course, Harry Plowden’s aim wasn’t to create a detailed character study or structured narrative, but to spread awareness of what can have an affect on people with anxiety – and he achieves this incredibly well.
Smartly, when we follow this young man (played by Joe Pass), it is slow, creating a build-up, which in turn makes us aware of his thoughts, even before walking pass others. The sound is drowned out, the laughter is in the background as his deep breathing gets louder – it does an excellent job at getting us in his head. The animation that occurs further displays the reaction within his mind, as it twitches and sparks. It acts like an examination of his appearance by exaggerating certain features, like sores/spots on his face.
Despite its simplicity, Self Conscious achieves its aim well. It gives a clear understanding of what it can be like for those who have problems with social anxiety or have very low confidence in themselves. It is, therefore, quite useful, as it teaches others to think about the people around us – we do not know what state of mind they are in, and we must respect one another – a strong message that Plowden has fit into around 35 seconds.