The coolest thing happened to me. After watching Body at Brighton Rock, I wanted to see more of what lead Karina Fontes has done. She showed a lot of promise in that film. However, aside from that feature film, she’s only done TV shows or shorts. One of the shorts I zeroed in on was Private View because the technical aspect of it — shot in an unbroken take over the course of nearly 10 minutes and with only one single zoom — intrigued me.
I Googled, but couldn’t find where it was streaming. It’s peculiar to me that there isn’t a better dedicated streaming service to watching a bunch of cool short films. There’s categories of short films at the Academy Awards and yet! To be fair, a lot of them are accessible on Vimeo and YouTube, but I couldn’t find Private View.
So, I found the email of the director and writer Theo Lindquist, and asked for a link or copy film. He replied back quickly and gave me a link! How cool is that?!
Anyone, the short lives up to its technical promise of blowing my brain. For the maximum effect, Lindquist recommends viewers watching in 2K on the “largest screen possible.” Unfortunately, I have my small Roku television and my laptop. Still, this blew my brain anyway, particularly on the second viewing being able to pay better attention to what’s going on.
The gist of the story is that friends have gathered at another friend’s house after a private viewing of his film. He even tells the friends after that viewing, “I know my stuff’s a little bit more experimental.”
FORESHADOWING RED FLAG!
The camera almost seems perched upon some sort of platform opposite the house, as if a neighbor was watching. The view gives us, the viewer, a perfect lens into the bedroom off to the left, the upstairs room on the right, with a piano and a fireplace, and then the room below that on the first floor, with the stairs and a screen with a close-up of people’s eyes.
And the entire façade of the house from this angle are glass windows. So, we can see everything, if that wasn’t clear.
As the friends break off around the house, the various bits of dialogue continue.
There’s the drunk guy, the eccentric who spends most of the time dancing to the piano music, the couple with child on the way (and she also joins in on the piano-playing), the friend playing the piano, another friend singing a tune to the piano music, and the filmmaker, Matt, whose film everyone just watched.
Matt gets annoyed when another party-goer messes with the screen downstairs, and with the drunk and eccentric upstairs in the bedroom, as he forebodingly doesn’t want anyone in that room. When they leave, he even makes sure the bed looks untouched and such, as if he’s “setting a scene.”
Speaking of scenes, when the drunk guy makes a scene with a baseball bat (MORE FORESHADOWING!), Matt makes a play as if he’s going to take the drunk guy home. Instead, he climbs atop where the camera is outside to check it.
Holy heck! I noticed something I didn’t catch until the second viewing. So, the man with the girlfriend or wife expecting a child is refilling his drink after the drunk guy leaves. The girl who was singing along to the piano comes up next to him and hands him a red bag, teasingly and walks away toward the stairs.
He follows her to the bedroom. Turns out, he’s cheating on his girlfriend/wife with the singer and not only that, but his kink is experiencing hypoxia, aka depriving his brain of oxygen, which is apparently thought by them to heighten the sexual experience, hence the red bag tease. As he’s doing that, he’s also pleasuring himself and she’s climbing on top of him sans panties. Which, it’s crazy they are doing this only one room over in the same house while the girlfriend/wife is still there!
It’s almost like Matt knew this was going to happen because of his preparations for the bedroom and wanting nobody in there.
When he comes back down from the roof and goes back inside, he wants to “show his new film” to his friends. In fact, his new film is this voyeuristic look at all of them. That allows the girlfriend/wife to see, in real time, her boyfriend/husband cheating on her, sending her into a blind rage.
It’s at that point we start getting the promised one zoom, slowly inching toward the bedroom and the scene unfolding there. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. As the tension ratchets up, the film gets more claustrophobic. The technical melds with the storytelling. Agh!
Also, the boyfriend/husband is a jerk, trying to gaslight her by saying, “Sorry guys, she’s going through a lot with the baby,” and then telling her, “It’s not always about you!” Jerk!
Anyhow, the girlfriend/wife loses it, pushes him onto the bed, grabs the aforementioned bat and wallops him a few times in the face, bloodying him and probably killing him, honestly. Remember, there’s no edits here! It’s all one take! The special effect looks great!
And remember, the camera is still zooming in, as the post-attack frenzy unfolds with everyone screaming and moving around. Matt comes around to the other side of the bed, sits down and the camera is nearly zoomed into his eyes at this point and he reminds his friends (and the viewers), “I mean, isn’t this what you guys wanted?”
Gosh that was a fun experience, especially re-watching it a second time. A one-take shot, even at around nine minutes, is an extraordinary feat of film-making in my view. And keep in mind, we have a wide view of the house, which includes half a dozen or more people and a lot of moving parts. Add in the zoom at the end, while the one-take is still happening, and again, I’m blown away.
I love short films because it’s a fun medium in the same way flash fiction writing is: The creator has to do a lot with less space, less runway, if you will. And that can make for some potent creativity and technique. I highly recommend watching this.