Still Life (2013) – Christian Nelson

Writer/director Chris Esper’s new short film is a solid effort with a strong message about persistence and determination. In Still Life, we follow Martin, played by Tim Bonavita, on his journey to become a professional photographer. Martin doesn’t take criticism towards his work very well, and it becomes clear that he is his own antagonist. We witness his self-deprecation through various flashbacks and when he shows his pictures in his college classes, until a light appears at the end of the tunnel from a professional critic at a showing.

Still Life’s strength lies in its pure visuals. The black-and-white present day juxtaposed with a color flashback adds a nice touch to the production. There’s a scene on this busy street that appears to have contrast problems at first, until you notice the way the bright light beautifully frames the main character.

I did have a problem with the audio during some scenes, though. A lot of dialogue noticeably fades in and out, falls short at the end of some lines, sometimes rough and sometimes clean. Might be just me, but this kind of sound design is distracting.

There’s not much at stake with the characters in this story, but I think it will still garner an audience wherever it’s shown. Screenings have taken place at the New Filmmakers New York Film Festival and the 2013 Motif Magazine Theater and Film Awards where it won for Best Editing, so keep an eye out.