Share & Connect
The TFF is over but as of April 29, five of this year’s short films became available to viewers for free, and without geo-restrictions, on YouTube. The selected shorts have been chosen from the 60 shorts screened at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, and first on the list is the 10 minute film Mr. Stache by director Jac Schaeffer. This story is the winner of the American Express contest called “My Movie Pitch” which aims to bring unique independent movie ideas to the screen. The writer John Nash’s idea was picked from over 2000 entries.
The short is a narrative about a man who grows a mustache in order to change his life. But as the facial hair grows, so does the question: How much does it take to wear your inner mustache on the outside, where it makes way more sense, and still be accepted?
Several things are working extremely well for this short. First of all, the narration is a comfortable break from ordinary dialogue and fits perfectly with the format. It reminded me of Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction, only in a much more concentrated dosage. On one hand with hints within the storyline, but most obviously with the narrator’s ‘stream-of-thought’, filling the void of actual conversation perfectly. The story is still able to stand on its own though, as the mans dilemma leads to the girl, and then resolves in a ‘very serious situation’ of a climax.
Second of all, on the actors front, the lack of character dialogue is beautifully compensated by impeccable acting. Rich Sommer plays our main protagonist, the man who meets the girl, played by Amy Smart, in a very romantic ‘love-at-first-sight’ moment. Without actually uttering more than a few lines in total (I believe the only spoken line was the girl’s), our mustached hero and his heroine succeed in visually interpreting all the drama of their characters. In fact, so well that you end up being incredibly intimate with their emotions.
I need to say that I absolutely loved it. The story is funny and carries a wonderful message about realizing your true self and loving others for the same reason. You completely understand why it won the movie pitch contest. It’s uplifting and, despite its unusual obsession with facial hair, it carries a heartfelt message. The progression of the narrative has a feel of a children’s story to it, emphasizing details and the ‘very serious drama’, but it deals with universal, existential issues that I’m guessing most viewers will be able to relate to.
As a piece of craftsmanship, the short is equally excelling; the cinematography and editing is intimate when needed and expressive when wanted, giving you a good sense right away of the personality and emotional state of the characters throughout the story. The changes in location, wardrobe, and extras indicate either a proper budget or a creative production, but I’m learning towards the first. With American Express and Tribeca as backers, it would be bad publicity otherwise. Thus, the final product beams of well-polished quality and experience while sporting a vibrant, quirky 70s atmosphere. You wouldn’t achieve this without money.
Jac Schaeffer’s work is definitely worth a look and you can still find Mr. Stache, along with the four other brilliant shorts, online at Tribeca Film Festival 2011 YouTube Screening Room. Enjoy.