Forget Me Not (2010) – By James Dubbeldam

Forget Me Not is a short film about Danny (Jon Rehlander) who wakes up in a park with no memory of why he’s there- and why his wife and daughter are missing. A year later and having moved on from the traumatic event, Danny begins a search for his wife and daughter. He quickly learns that things around him are not what they seem. Caught between friends who aren’t all they appear, and two detectives who are suspicious of him, Danny has to sort through the clues to solve the complicated mystery.

You usually don’t see a lot of short films coming in at the 42 minute mark, but also not a lot that take on as much as Forget Me Not.  The film is quite complex and Jan Morris (the director/cinematographer/editor/producer) obviously had his hands full. Just tackling one of those positions can be quite difficult, so Morris had a lot of hats to wear, like so many short film directors with no budget to work with.

Overall the film shows a lot of potential. It isn’t plagued with any serious issues. No visible boom shots or crew, etc. It’s also fairly consistent, and that can be a challenge with such a long piece.

The creepy intro/music at the beginning of the film and throughout help set the mood which worked well for this genre film. Along the way there is a scene or two without any audio (but with score) that help define the type of movie Morris wanted to make. They were memorable and worked very well.

Morris definitely had a style in mind for the film which seems to be lacking in many indie films. By weaving creepy flashbacks into the story, and shooting in low-light for effect created suspension when the story needed it. The film does build tension at times, which can be quite a struggle for budding filmmakers.  With many short films of this length, it’s difficult to keep the viewer entertained but Forget Me Not is not boring.  The film felt big, with a decent size cast, a complex story, and many varied locations which made it much easier to watch. If this story was set in two, three locations it wouldn’t have kept my attention the way this did.

Overall the actors worked well together. They didn’t step on each other’s toes or seem to be “trying” too hard. It’s obvious that they were well rehearsed and prepared for the film, but at times seemed fake and lacked the emotion to bring certain scenes to life.

Forget Me Not does have a few problems to deal with, as basically all films do! I mention them with hopes of being constructive- as a filmmaker you can always learn something new.

First, with the many varied locations, it would serve the film to set up the locations better for the viewer. Shooting wider angles gives the viewer some sense of geography and enables the actors to work within their location, bringing scenes to life more effectively.  Many people don’t realize that the audio in a film can be the most difficult thing to do well. Forget Me Not does suffer from various audio issues- from levels (especially the ending of the film) to consistency, and the usual score (music) interfering with the dialogue.

Although it seemed intentional and could have worked quite well, the scenes shot in low light were difficult to see and difficult to get into. The effect can be very powerful, but it takes a great deal of work to light the scenes properly, as well as a talent director of photography.

Lastly, 42 minutes is a bit much to swallow as a short. I wondered why not add 20 minutes and make it a feature? A story like this would be well-served to have someone outside the project trim some fat. Pick the pacing up a little by cutting here and there. I think a shorter film here would be a stronger one.

Overall, Morris is a talented filmmaker with great potential. I look forward to his next project!