Welcome To The Show
Oct 20, 2022
Jack McGarry, Lucy Marshall, Emily Rose Holt, Ian Ray-White
“Welcome, my son. Welcome to the machine.”
When Roger Waters wrote those lyrics he was talking about the ferocious meat-grinder that is the music industry. He knew first hand how hard it is to keep your artistic integrity and your feet on the ground when business execs and industry moguls are slipping pleasantries into your ear trying to get you to twist your principles into selling out to the mainstream and making people like them pots and pots of money. The song was also a reaction to how the industry had contributed to the mental breakdown of Syd Barrett, one of the band's founding members.
In his new short film, writer/director Matthew Sawyer takes this to heart as he presents us with Welcome To The Show, a story about a young man, Jamie (McGarry) and his bid to rise to the top in the music business. Jamie is backstage at the gig which is going to break him into the big time. He's got about fifteen minutes before he has to go on but he's caught himself having second thoughts. He's been reminiscing about all the things he used to have in his life, his relationship with Ellie (Holt) most of all, and how he has given up everything he held dear just to have this one shot at his life-long dream.
Alongside him is his tenacious agent, Lisa (Marshall) who has really manipulated this whole scenario to get Jamie to where he is. She's taken charge not just of his professional life but his personal life too, and she's been all too willing for Jamie to make sacrifices that have been needed to get him his big break. So we watch in flashback just how Jamie got to where he is now, while the dreary ballad he penned for his long lost love plays in the background and he gets lost in the lights of the mirror in his dressing room.
There's really nothing new in Welcome To The Show as it retreads ground covered by a wealth of films, songs and TV shows that have exposed the greed, demise of innocence and deathly toll exacted by the music industry, from Pink Floyd's song released in 1975, to A Star Is Born – three times (1937, 1976, 2018) to 24 Hour Party People (2002) and a host of others in-between.
This lack of originality might have been able to be overlooked if the production had something exceptional to offer, but sadly here that is not the case. The acting from the three main leads is sufficient but never anything other than that and the direction remains basic with simple, static backdrops that show time and place and nothing more.
In a film that focuses fully on songs and music, you would hope that particular attention would be paid to the sound and audio recording, but several scratching sounds throughout, including the main song recital, and some short, sharp cuts in the editing show that this wasn't the case. McGarry unfortunately doesn't have the voice of a singer either, calling the validity of the whole project into question.
For what could have been an insightful short film from an up and coming production company, Welcome To The Show misses most of the beats that it needed to hit and sadly never reaches any of the high notes that it was aiming for.