Between the Blinds (2010) – By Cary Conley

Back in August I reviewed a very good short called Emily in the A.M. by Dan Brown. Brown is back with another short, this one done for Project Twenty1, a film competition in which each director is given 21 days to create an original short under 10 minutes in length. The catch is that you can’t really have a script or even an idea ready because, as part of the competition, there is a secret element that must be featured in the project. So each creative team must write, cast, film, score, and edit an original short in three weeks.

This time around, Brown’s story features a man with an impending deadline and a terrible case of writer’s block. He is thoroughly frustrated by this situation and sits down to try one last time before his deadline arrives. As he struggles with his writing and his frustration mounts, he peeks through the blinds of his window. He sees a young man and woman sitting on a park bench. All seems to be well until a very attractive jogger bends over to tie her shoe. The young woman catches her beau sneaking a peek at the jogger’s…attractions, and turns away from him. The writer closes the blinds and picks up a puppet sitting on a shelf, which gives him an idea. With obvious relish, the writer imagines what happens next by pretending that the people outside are puppets and he is manipulating the action. This gives him an idea for a story which he furiously writes down.

Each time the writer peeks out of the blinds, he sees a different scene. Closing the blinds on each scene, he imagines how each would end, writing his ideas down until his sheet of paper is full. We close with the writer seemingly past his writer’s block and ready to pour his ideas out on paper.

This brief short from Mr. Brown is a fun idea. The story is told much like a silent film would be, through facial expressions, body language, and "intertitles" of written commentary as the author imagines how each scene unfolds. I enjoyed this creative solution to the lack of dialogue in the film. As the scenes cut from observed action the author actually sees to his imagination, each "character" changes to a marionette, complete with heavy eye shadow, circles of blush on the cheeks, and strings around their wrists. We cut to see the author pretending to manipulate a puppet, dancing and enjoying himself as he imagines what is happening outside his window. The score is a classical violin piece that is conducted gloriously just as the author is conducting his puppets in his imagination.

Between the Blinds is a unique, imaginative and fun little short. It is no surprise that it won for Best Director as well as being nominated in several other categories in the Project21 contest. Currently it can only be seen on the festival circuit, but for more information please check out www.wideeyedpictures.com.