Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's with Blinky: Choice (the whole shebangabang)

  Choice opens on an unnamed actress (Kerri Miller) clearly at the end of her rope.  As she get's more and more desperate it's revealed that she's trying to break away from her previous "hot babe" roles and get some more serious roles.  Phone call after phone call she get's rejected or, seemingly, out right ignored.  She drinks and she cries and she gets more and more upset until finally she's confronted with embodiment of Choice (Mandy Evans).  Her and Choice begin an exchange where it is revealed that she must choose between being dead and famous or living and poor.

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Choice IMDB

The rest of the review, a Word from Chris and PICTURES!?! Are you freaking kidding me!  That's like a whole fancy feature and shit!  And it's all after the jump?  Well get out of my way!

  First off let's talk about what's going on in this short.  We have lot's of seemingly long cuts where two actresses really just give it their all.  In the beginning the short is in color but when we go into Choice's world we switch to black and white.  In fact Choice herself is entirely monochrome, I could get all art schooly and say that by doing this we establish a binary world where there is nothing between black and white, yes or no, 1 and 0.  The Choice world is dreamy with her echoing voice and blurred movements while at some points she completely alters reality by being in several places at once.  Then once a choice is made we go back into the world of color where things are more complicated that the monochrome world of Choice.  The world and it's transitions really hammer home the nature who Choice is in what I believe is a subtle but powerful way.  You can say transitioning from color to black and white isn't subtle at all, and on the surface I would agree, but I honestly didn't notice it the first time I saw it.  After the first time I saw it I recalled it being entirely in black and white, it was only after subsequent viewings that I started to notice the transitions more.

  The actresses, Kerri Miller and Mandy Evans do a fantastic job in their respective roles.  The dialog has a good back and forth, it feels realistic and it there's emotion behind it.  Kerri Miller demonstrates a good emotional range from anger and frustration to disbelief to being contrary and finally to relief and hope.  Mandy Evans seems concerned occasionally going to angry and sad.  There are moments of a wide range of emotions but you feel that Choice is trying to prod the actress into doing the right thing while also not making the right thing obvious.  She almost encourages her to pick death by explaining all the great things it will mean for her, soon to be nonexistent, career.  She frames it in almost romantic light but then confronts her with anger about the actresses recklessness with booze and pills.  Finally when a decision is made there seems to be this realization that the actress made the right choice and she made it on her terms, which was probably the point all along.

  At first I didn't know what to think about Choice.  I didn't really know what the message was until the very end and then I was very pleased with the message.  Ultimately the film is about taking responsibility for your actions, taking control of your life and not being a victim.  It's about making your own choice and being happy with it.

  You can expect the usual good from Chris, it's shot well, the script is solid and the soundtrack is great (especially the ending song).  My only real gripe with it is that it won best Noir at NIFF.  My gripe isn't that it won an award, because it certainly deserved to, it's that I don't consider this a Noir.  But the definition of Noir is always been a sort of nebulous thing with no one really making a stand one way or another as to what truly defines Noir.  Personally for something to be Noir it has to fall into the sort of gritty "down on his luck, hard boiled" protagonist and a femme fatale mode.  But Noir or not, this is worth checking out.


  This film drew its inspiration from a thought I had back in 2008 upon hearing about the deaths of Brad Renfro and Heath Ledger, who died less than a week a part from each other. I was on IMDB at the time and noticed that Mr. Renfro, immediately upon the news of his demise, had shot to the number one spot on the IMDB Star meter. It was mentioned that he was depressed though his death was ruled accidental. Then not but a day or two later, several of his movies were on TV and there were memorial articles being written about him. Now as usual when a celebrity dies, the Hollywood machine capitalizes on the fallen and milks their names for all it's worth.

  But the kicker, happened literally seven days later when Heath Ledger died. His death shocked the world and completely overshadowed Mr. Renfro's death ten fold. He was yesterday's news before he was even allowed to be mourned. This is where the concept of "Choice" began. Hollywood's superficiality of mourning the dead, was exposed, to me at least. Suddenly all of the complaints about Ledger's Joker performance or look, took an immediate backseat to the epic larger than life icon he was becoming. He was the new Brandon Lee. And Brad Renfro's memorial was left in the hands of only his core fans, friends and family.

  I am indifferent to Brad Renfro's career. I have no preference either way about him, but I was very shocked at how quickly he was forgotten in the wake of Heath Ledger's death. I felt it was rude.

  Then I began wondering about how the "idea of suicide". We all get depressed, but at what point does suicide actually seem like a good option, especially to someone who might be a celebrity. I do not care how depressed anyone is, if you are financially well to do, there are plenty of ways to make your life more fulfilling. Drugs and alcohol are never an answer.

  As I began thinking about what happened to Mr. Renfro, I read up on Jonathan Brandis who hung himself back in 2003, sighting how he didn't think he would ever "make it" as an adult actor. It was on this concept that "Choice" was born. I began researching fallen actors and noted how their deaths affected their careers. I began to see a pattern in behavior, both by the victims and by the public. Critics really never had anything bad to say about the dead. It truly is in poor taste. And I thought to myself, "its a friggin' loophole." And more so, what if the fallen had this option presented to them? What if the thought of suicide was a glorious choice? Where they will forever be honored and remembered as icons, legends etc? To a weak minded person, this could seem incredibly appealing. Within moments of this realization, I began scripting a story about a suicidal actor who is presented with that very option. I called it "Choice".

  The script originally was set to feature a male actor and a male Choice. Since I was inspired by the demise of male actors, I felt it befitting. But due to scheduling conflicts, I was forced to put the project on hold and literally could not properly cast it for three years. I tried everything from holding auditions for replacement actors, to even casting twins. No one could handle the part. It wasn't until 2011, while knee deep in filming "Stand Off" that I said, "holy shit, I should cast Mandy as Choice and Kerri as the actress".

  Long story short, after rigorous rehearsing, scene blocking and just hours upon hours of character discussion, Mandy, Kerri and I finally made "Choice". And I have never been more proud of a project as I am with this one. These women brought their "A" game and did not quit. They went all out for their parts. Well beyond their individual comfort zones and it shows.

Photo's kindly provided by Chris from his Facebook.  I haven't quite mastered the "slideshow" concept so please accept this old school substitute of a bunch of pictures.  Just pretend it's 1996 and this is an awesome Anglefire page.

An actress and her Choice

At one point Choice was going to star two male actors, this it the "Alternate Choice".

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