Shoot-Out (2005) – By Duane L. Martin

There seems to be a run on short films lately. Just today I received in the mail a film entitled Shoot Out about a guy called "House" who hustles one-on-one basketball for a thousand bucks a game. He’s never been beaten, but suddenly he’s come face to face with his toughest challenge ever. This punk comes up to him and offers him over two-hundred thousand dollars, his house and his car, as a bet on a game of one-on-one, and all he asks House to put up in return is his life. If house loses, the guy’s gonna kill him. House doesn’t want to do it, but eventually the guy punks him into it and the game is on. The film has a bit of a surprise ending that has more of a deeper meaning, but I won’t spoil it here.

I never cease to be amazed what people can do with home, semi-pro, and even prosumer equipment nowadays. Things that used to take tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, can now be shot and produced on a relatively miniscule budget. Just recently, shorts like Broken, Artie Saves the Hood, and now Shoot-Out have all really impressed me with the creativity and technical skill used to create highly memorable short films. This particular one was shot in black and white and much of the action footage was blended with video effects to give it a more surrealistic feel. The editing was tight and served both the action and the story well. Granted, there’s not much story here, but there didn’t need to be. It wasn’t about listening to people sitting around contemplating the meaning of life over a cup of double whipped latte mochachino with a double shot of espresso and a hazlenut biscotti on the side. This was about two guys dueling it out on the court to see who the better man was, with unbelievably high stakes on a game that could cost one of them his life. And again, it was fifteen minutes…not because of a lack of ideas or because things are left out that leave you wondering at the end. It’s fifteen minutes because that’s exactly what was needed to tell the story. Personally, I’d rather see a shorter movie that’s tight and tells the story in a well paced and concise way than one that rambles on and on for an hour about nothing and has maybe thirty minutes of actual story mixed into the rambling. Plus I have a short attention span, so these short films really do it for me.

One other thing I want to mention that really impressed me is that it was a black guy and a white guy playing one-on-one. Not once did race or anything else like it come into play here. It’s so easy for filmmakers to throw race into situations like this, and frankly it’s getting old. This movie stayed away from that and was simply about two men of near equal skills who were fighting it out to see who was the best. More filmmakers should pay attention to how these guys did it. There weren’t any social messages beating you in the head as you watched. It was just a good story and a good movie and that was it. That’s part of what made it great.

Congratulations to the filmmakers, David Branin and Tyshawn Bryant and their cast and crew on a fine piece of work. If you’d like to check out the website to find out more about the film, you can check it out at