This is a kind of film we wouldn’t easily screen at Go Short, not in competition anyways, because our festival is mostly european oriented. Damage Control (2018) is the example of a film that perfectly captures this time period and it is a film that couldn’t have been more actual.
Sometimes we from Short Shot receive an e-mail from a courageous filmmaker who asks us if we would like to consider his or her short film for this blogpost. Last Thursday Ryan Oksenberg send us an e-mail, telling us about what some other platforms like Directorsnotes.com wrote about his last short film. Watching his short film, we were genuinely surprised. It is the kind of film that keeps you exciting throughout, not exactly knowing what will happen next. Also, the film was cleverly written and the acting didn’t disappoint as well. Damage Control (2018) tells the story about Drew who decides to surprise his fiancée Alison with a newly inherited property. After having arrived at this property, Drew is quickly forced by a mysterious woman to confront his past behavior. In an interview with Directorsnotes.com, Ryan Oksenberg said:
Even though the point of view of the story is Drew’s, I wanted the audience to have the property revealed to them just as the property was revealed to Alison – blindfolded and for the first time. It was important for it to be written that way and directed that way. […] We are walking through his crime scene but it’s filtered through this air of a new beginning with his fiancé. I was treating the place like it was the Overlook Hotel and it was “Shining” with memories of his sordid past…
Ryan not only took inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), but The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) was an even more important inspiration source for him. He revisited in particular an episode called Deaths Head Revisited. Via FilmCourage Ryan Oksenberg actually talked about his directing process in general and his directing lessons from making Damage Control (2018):
That night before your shoot, you prepare like crazy. I just break down the shots, make my shot list, I imagine myself in the location, I write down little things I’m going to whisper in the actor’s ears. I’m a hundred and 10 percent prepared.
But in case of Damage Control (2018) preparation itself wasn’t enough, because what he didn’t prepare for was being unprepared… It was on set of Damage Control (2018) the director realized that he didn’t elaborate enough on the relationship between Drew and Alison. But because he chose the right actors for their roles, he let the actors improvise. Lots of improvised dialogue had to be cut down to make sure that the suspenseful part of the short film wasn’t neglected. This is the final result, how do you like this short film? Go on, check it out! And if you have had the courage to make a short film yourself, a short film that is worthwhile writing about in our Short Shot, don’t hesitate to e-mail us to firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows…maybe your short film appears in this blogpost some day as well.