Blog Post #76: Retrospective - The Promotion (2016)
Updated: Mar 18
To celebrate the local exhibition of my first feature-length film, For My Sister, I proudly present a retrospective series of write-ups dedicated to my past short film work which includes brief commentary for each short as well as a few "fun facts" about their creation. You can access all of the other entries from here. 16/16. The Promotion (2016)
"Once again, a well-conceived and superbly executed film." -Dr. Andrew Strycharski, Director of FIU Film Studies Program In this story of obsession, mystery and the impossible, we follow a young woman who's all about her career despite her father's warning. Starring Stephanie Maltez, Juan Iglesias, Cristina De Fatima and Emmanuel Franco. Sound Mixing by Evan Burr. Featuring an Original Score by Ben Morris.
I knew my 16th short film was going to be my last in anticipation of finally getting around to producing feature-length films. But the road to The Promotion was difficult and fraught with many ultimately rejected ideas and a 25-page script that almost entered production. Luckily, I decided upon a relatively small-scale story which came together rather quickly, sprung from an exciting visual idea which sees its complete roll-out at the climax of the film.
The Promotion is notable among my work for its use of an ensemble cast. My films up to this point had skirted a conventional emphasis on character and dialogue. So, I decided to finally give that a whirl. I had worked with Stephanie Maltez, who heads the cast, for the first time on my previous short film, Leo's Love Letter, and I had no doubt that she was capable of carrying a 10-minute short film (or even a feature as the future would have it) as a character dually sweet and enigmatic. Her female co-star in the film, Cristina De Fatima, was an invaluable find from FIU's theatre program and delivered an appropriately mature performance despite her age and this being her first short film role. Another newcomer to the Hard Edge Films family was Juan Iglesias, a theatre veteran who gave his character the exact quantity of tender fatherliness needed. And lastly, the cast was rounded out with the relaxed acting stylings of Emmanuel Franco, who I'd also worked with before on Leo's Love Letter. I love what each and every actor brought to this film!
In terms of production, this film broke new ground in my oeuvre by being the first short film I'd ever produced that had someone else performing an integral production role. This was Evan Burr, a good friend and filmmaker in his own right, who was the film's on-set sound mixer for scenes involving dialogue. It was a smooth collaboration and a great learning experience. Thank you, Evan! Finally, a great deal of credit for the dramatic effectiveness of this film must go to the composer of its original score, Ben Morris. This was our third collaboration and his musical chops are on full display here as well. Ben's technique seems to improve with each successive collaboration and he handled this film's variety of emotional moments with masterful delicacy. Due to his studying at Rice University in Texas at the time of post-production, we had to collaborate remotely but even that didn't detract from the sheer bliss of working with him! Thank you, Ben!
Fun facts: • The climactic stairwell shots were accomplished with complex digital compositing techniques. No body doubles were employed at all!
• The film's trailer, serving as a useful primer for the film's lead character, features narration provided by my friend, Cris Mertens, a professional film editing and voice acting virtuoso. We attended UCF's film school together. He's also the Reveu narrator in my first feature-length film, For My Sister.
• The shot of Em reacting to the return of her keychain in the climax of the film took 40 takes. I have my reasons!
• My father suffered from a brain aneurysm and underwent critical surgery during post-production on the film but he fully recovered in time for the premiere of the film at our home.
Festivals & awards: • Aired on the premiere episode of the nationally distributed PBS television show, film-maker, 2018
• Official Selection at the 4th Annual Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival in Tampa, FL, 2017
• Official Selection at the 6th Annual Key West Film Festival in Key West, FL, 2017
• Official Selection at the 16th Annual Miami Short Film Festival in Miami, FL, 2017
• Official Selection at the 12th Annual Central Florida Film Festival in Ocoee, FL, 2017
• Official Selection at the June edition of I'm Not Gonna Move to L.A. in Miami, FL, 2017
• Official Selection at the March edition of the 2nd Annual Miami Independent Film Festival in Miami, FL, 2017