As most normal everyday people know, putting yourself in a strange situation that you have never been in is generally not fun, especially when it involves murder, deception and flash photography. The new feature film Full Frame from Table16 Productions and writer/director Christopher Kelley is a stylized and sleek modern day noir about the underbelly of corporate photography.
The nebbish protagonist in Full Frame, known only in the film as “The Photographer” (Frankie Murphy-Giesing) lives the life of a typical full-time freelance photographer. In the opening frames of the film, he attempts to use his photographic skills as a cheesy way to pick up his latest model, much to her chagrin. He skirts lending a hand to some teenage boys being attacked on the street, and is supported by a small circle of fellow indie photographers, all neurotic themselves in their own way. His life is not one of luxury but of necessity. He subsists instead of stands out, and he seems okay with all of this.
The Photographer meets with a perspective client, Mr. Bogart (George Ausmus), who represents Charles De Beer, (Charles Whitcomb) a wealthy socialite who is very high on the social totem pole. Intrigued, The Photographer takes a job doing a photo shoot at one of Mr. De Beer’s high class parties. At the party The Photographer once again stumbles his way through pick up lines with another pretty model (Natalie Siebers) in the midst of his snapping. The Photographer retires to an upstairs bedroom to change his camera equipment when he discovers the attractive model he was hitting on lying on the bed, face down. Upon further investigation The Photographer discovers the girl is dead, covered in blood. In his shock and haste, he slams on his camera’s shutter and snaps the frames of his very first crime scene. The Photographer alerts Mr. De Beers and his security, who are baffled at his accusations, but they also seem a bit suspicious of him as well. Upon further inspection of the room there appears to be no body or any signs of blood in the bedroom. The only proof of this murder is now on The Photographer’s camera.
The Photographer frantically links up with Elvis (Jeff Baird), a tough as nails and mildly psychotic private investigator he sometimes takes pictures for. He enlists Elvis to help him uncover the mystery of the dead model on his camera, and the two begin to delve deeper into Mr. De Beers’ devilish ways, with some very intriguing and fun results.
Full Frame is a fun, confident and well crafted neo-noir thriller, with a great underlying layer of humor thrown in for good measure. As the third act progresses we aren’t given everything spoon fed to help us along, and the quick wit of the screenplay and the performances keep everything moving right up until the final frames of the 95 minute feature. Director Kelley was also the editor, cinematographer and sound editor of Full Frame, all elements that shine in this film, every bulb pop, broken bone and gunshot ring out fantastic in the very eclectic and busy soundtrack. Kelley also seems to be working from the pages of the book of the earlier years of Scorsese’s film-making, filling his 2.35 widescreen frame with sumptuous close-ups as well as those sly devilish slo-mo cutaways over dialogue. The film is presented in high contrast black and white, which is not only a standard of the noir film creed, but also a terrific commentary on the starkness of a photographer’s eye and why they always see things in their frame in plain black and white.
Performances across the board in Full Frame are great. Frankie Murphy-Giesing as the un-hero hero in the film gives a great performance as The Photographer. He is a deft cross between Mulholland Dr.’s Justin Theroux and any great neurotic Woody Allen performance. Jeff Baird steals the film’s later scenes as he brings intensity and even a bit of sincerity to his role as a gun loving P.I. who just loves inflicting pain on those around him. Charles Whitcomb is cast wonderfully in his role as the cool, collected and deceptive De Beers.
Full Frame is a well crafted and fun film noir with great performances and a fantastic visual design and soundscape. It takes a nice jab at the life of indie artists, violence and technology. Full Frame will be released August 4th 2015.
For more info on Full Frame, be sure to check out Table16 Productions at http://www.table16.com/films