Short films usually have one of two reasons for being made. The first is to actually do something that only works within the confines of a limited time length, and truly progresses the art form to new levels. The other direction that filmmakers take is to experiment in the hopes of honing their abilities. Some do this and simply attempt new narrative devices or visual effects, but some actually attempt to craft stories that will later be fleshed out into a feature length product. Although I have no knowledge of writer/director Barry Kneller’s intentions, while watching his short film Hotchfeld I had the distinct opinion that this seems like a warmup for a feature length film. While Hotchfeld may not be rich in character depth, it does offer some fun twists to the world of "gangster" cinema.
Hotchfeld is a 17 minute short film that takes place within the world of organized crime. Hotchfeld (Geoff Meed) is a European gangster who surrounds himself with Italian American mafiosos. Working as a collector, he goes around picking up money for his bosses no matter how dangerous the situation may be. When someone refuses to pay, he convinces them. When they have someone protecting them, he ensures that they don’t do their job. When Hotchfeld’s boss assigns him two new marks, he is given a partner for this case. Hotchfeld normally works alone, but will this new partner make things easier for Hotch or will it prove to be a large error on his behalf?
Hotchfeld certainly sets itself apart from many films within this budget range due to the professional sheen given to the project. Featuring excellent photography and a very capable cast, this short feature has a great deal of gloss to it. Featuring veteran cast member Richard Portnow (Seven, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai) in a very large role, the rest of the cast find themselves working at their best in order to keep the quality leveled out. Generally, the plot revolves around gangsters doing some very gangster things with one or two twists along the way, but the level of "cool" is generally how the performances are weighed. To be sure, everyone involved puts their coolest foot forward.
Far from being a classic amongst short films, Hotchfeld shows a great deal of promise from the writer and director. Geoff Meed proves to be a very brooding lead, and shows that he can bolster a film upon his shoulders. Overall, if the idea behind this was to see how well these characters come to life – I believe the project was a success. Kneller does a solid job on this short film and I would certainly be interested in seeing these characters fleshed out a bit more. Certainly track the short down if it plays at a festival near you. For now, you can get more of the specifics by visiting the official website at http://www.hotchfeldthefilm.com.