Directed by: #ArindamChatterjee
Written by: #ArindamChatterjee
The secret behind the success of most influential short films is how they are often grounded on an extremely crisp and compelling narrative, which is then garnished with a few insightful dialogues or spiced up with well-paced memorable scenes that are loaded with images that together pack a punch even without investing too much time in building up the story. However, sadly, this short film seems to nose dive straight into the abyss of mistakes that many indie filmmakers find themselves stumbling into time and again. To start with, the biggest flaw in Window of Opportunity is that it has a weak plot. Nothing really happens throughout the duration.
Understandably due to the current lock-down situation and various physical restraints, the scope of a director to create a film becomes drastically narrow. We must also remember that there are certain limitations that go hand-in-hand with the very genre of short films itself, for instance: low budget, low picture quality, scarcity of proper setting or location, unavailability of skilled actors, the gap between what a director aims for and what he is ultimately able to execute on-screen and perhaps we can even extend our leniency while reviewing indie films to include minor shortcomings in the plot structure.
But while all this is true and valid, what makes the difference between a good short film and one that doesn’t quite make the cut is how it uses the cinematic medium to express the message or bring out its core theme through the film. Showing the audience direct snippets of the emails revealing the dissatisfaction of the CEO with his working outputs (let us ignore the grammatical mistakes in the English therein), followed by another email notifying him of the layoff from his job by the Head of HR, what the director essentially does here ends up stripping the film of its cinematic nuances, reducing it to a mere video of different shorter clips stitched shot after shot.
Just how too much of voice over or excessively long dialogues or unnecessary scenic shots can make a film narrative redundant, in the same way, if the story is told instead of using the particular language of cinema but rather by recording on the camera details of what the conversation between the employee and the employer entailed simply through emails and text messages, it fails to meet what would seem as the unwritten yet widely accepted basic standard for being considered as a short film at all. There is barely any acting involved in the film except a few close-ups on the face of the protagonist as he reads the layoff notification and slaps his hand over his forehead while vehemently shaking his head left and right expressing his disappointment.
Unemployment during such a pandemic can mean immediate disaster for anyone, but the resigned attitude of the protagonist as he leans back on his sofa and heaves a deep sigh last only for a couple of seconds before the camera moves on to focus on a new message alert on his phone, making the whole dire hopelessness of the layoff notice unconvincing in its impact on the life of the character. The film ends with the protagonist picking up his camera, mentally rejoicing his selection in a photography contest and hence embracing this new “opportunity” by literally walking towards a window and clicking photographs of birds from there. Perhaps, the only saving grace in this whole film is its music which unlike its other cinematic components was a little bit more nuanced and effective.
Such films raise the important question to the film community as a whole as to what can be considered a short film, especially in regards to the exponential rise of numerous technically advanced smart-phones and extremely well-equipped editing software available online for free now. Is it just any video captured and given a superficial plot or can there be more sincere involvement and innovative creative thought processes expected from indie filmmakers who generally work on a very low budget? Personally, I would like to believe that this genre has a lot of “opportunities” and there will always be those who would seek to push the boundaries of this medium and make reviewing a more rewarding as well as challenging task. Having said that, every step is better than taking no step at all.