Short Starts presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.
For some filmmakers, an early short film can be a memorable calling card. For others, it may be an embarrassment from one’s past, something the now-revered artist wishes was erased both physically and historically. The latter is the case for Ben Affleck, who has admitted to being ashamed of his 20-year-old directorial debut, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. It’s got a great title (aside from the Oxford comma), but the film itself is indeed something worth regretting. It’s the sort of work someone like Affleck should worry has been seen by enough Academy members to keep him being snubbed for the Best Director Oscar forever.
“It’s horrible,” he told Entertainment Weekly a few years ago. “It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it…It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise.”
But its not really terrible for the directing (I’d say the writing does it in), and now that Affleck has gone and made three well-crafted efforts, including Best Picture frontrunner Argo (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this week), he should be able to put this behind him and laugh. There is something amusing in the fact that so many great filmmakers’ student films are impossible to find online, yet I Killed My Lesbian Wife was previously showcased on the old short subject site Atom Films and now is still popping up now and again through awful-quality video uploads. It may not show the promise of a future DGA Award winner, but then his performance the same year in Dazed and Confused wasn’t necessarily a harbinger of the maturity he shows as an actor in Argo either.
Speaking of Affleck’s acting, the most interesting thing about the short might be that he didn’t star in the thing. Instead, he seems to have directed his lead, Jay Lacopo (who co-wrote the film with actress/producer Kamala Lopez), to perform the part exactly as ’90s-era Ben Affleck would have played it. Lacopo almost resembles a cross between young Affleck and Joe Rogan, and the misogynist character would have fit well alongside the asshole Affleck roles in Dazed and Mallrats, and of course the title might call to mind Chasing Amy, in which he plays a guy in love with a lesbian. Another interesting thing about the short is that it’s apparently the first time Ben Affleck worked with younger brother Casey — credited at the time with his first name, Caleb, he was a video assistant on the shoot.
Watch the full 16-minute short start of Affleck’s directorial career below (in two parts), if only for the curiosity and to see how far he’s come.