It’s all about getting the attention. A common ploy for most mediums be it written, aural or visual is to start off with sequence that focuses the attention. Cinema is filled with memorable openings which usually always lead to memorable films. To achieve this in a full length film is difficult enough. To do so in a short film is almost essential. A recent memorable opening was the short film The Greyness of Autumn.
The film traces the last few days in the life of Danny McGuire, an Ostrich living and working in a call centre. For the longest time his life was on the level. A steady job, girlfriend and interesting flat mate seem like the ideal scenario. Suddenly everything goes wrong at the same time. Danny is made redundant as his office is moved to India. He seeks comfort from his girlfriend only to find that she has met someone else. With only his friend Nelson, a reality TV loving monkey, easily distracted by drinking and noising up the pub landlord, Danny sees no point in living.
The hook at the start of the film is the voice of Danny (Duncan Airlie James). A deep, resonant and very individual vocal draws you in immediately. This is before the action even starts as it is during the opening credits. It’s only when the opening scene appears do we see that Danny is not like ordinary guys. On first viewing it comes as a bit of a surprise. Right after we are introduced to Nelson the monkey. The film looks to be taking a route into pure comedy featuring puppets only for this to change almost immediately. Every other character is human but in various ways are more cartoon like than the hand held artists.
The character of Danny is very well drawn out. He has an individual outlook on life and is very self-aware of his limitations (no hands for instance) and is intelligent and articulate. The comic relief to this is Nelson (Chris Quick). He is frank and very funny. I liked the way his back story was used as the explanation for having a weapon in the house. There is a story to tell there in Nelson’s own movie.
The quality of the support characters make all the difference to the story. Taken at face value the story has been covered so many times before. Using the puppet angle and the support from characters such as Jimmy Guinness (Andrew O’Donnell). His scene was laugh out loud funny and still raises a smile when thinking about it. The fact that there are more than a few memorable moments in the film is a testament to the quality of the writing. As I am always banging on about, a film needs a good well-developed story. Without that the project is a waste of time.
Overall a very nicely paced, bone dry comedy that is a splendid way to spend fourteen minutes.
The Greyness of Autumn will be screened at the Loch Ness film festival on 27th July and the Deep Fried film festival in Coatbridge on 10th August. Check out the film’s facebook page for more information