Eric Goes West


If you aren’t plugged in to what’s going on with short films, you’re missing out on an insane amount of outstanding entertainment. People talk about how difficult it was to whittle down Best Of lists for features this year (Her or Gravity or 12 Years a Slave?!) but after watching almost 3,000 shorts in 12 months, it feels like the depth of talent is growing in a big way on the small side. As a testament to the medium’s freedoms, more and more feature filmmakers are returning to it. No longer simply a calling card or an early stepping stone, shorts have an undeniable power coupled with an infinite platform that some are just now discovering. They’re also strange to categorize. For some, the internet is a red carpet while for others, it’s a final stop after touring festivals for years. As such, some of the best short films of 2013 were made a couple years ago. The focus is certainly on new projects, but some don’t find an audience quickly even as their magic deserves mention. Plus, there are 2013 movies like Noah that would have made this list, but are now unavailable (in most cases — including Noah‘s — because studios are keeping the work offline in order to have well-earned contractual conversations). But instead of getting bogged down in specifics, please let your mind wander for a short while.


Eric Goes West

Why Watch? It’s not hard to imagine why this short film is going around like free whiskey. It’s shot with an eye for detail and interesting angles while pulling off some difficult scenes in difficult territory. Make no mistake: shooting in water is really, really hard. But as screenwriter John August points out, director Dee Austin Robertson had access to a boat, so she utilized that unique connection/setting in order to break a few rules and create something that looks far more expensive than it actually is. In the movie, Eric (Blaise Miller) sets sail alone on his birthday, ruminating on a relationship gone to pot and drinking liberally. Fortunately, there’s a storm heading his way. Eric Goes West is a success on every level. The script features some simple twists on convention (particular his new friend) with a healthy dose of cynical comedy. It’s not exactly morbid. Not black comedy. More like dark gray. It also doesn’t flinch when it comes to shocking just a bit while pouring Eric into a Harold Lloyd style farce where the consequence is drowning. A smart, perfect balance of conflicting tones. Miller really shines here as well because without an interesting actor, the whole exercise would be boring. Fortunately, he nails the part and builds a character out of a few lines, some visual gags and a nice bit of irony at the end. Godspeed, Fatty Patty. Godspeed. What will it cost? Only 8 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.  

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