The Gypsy (2009) – By James Dubbeldam

The Gypsy is a 19 minute short film directed/shot/edited/produced/starring Jon Navarro. It’s a film about David Mendez, who after moving into a new apartment realizes that it’s haunted. But it’s not just what he learns through dreams and experiences, but also what his disabled neighbour tells him.

With many confusing time shifts and plenty going on, The Gypsy quickly becomes a confusing short film.

It’s clear that the filmmakers don’t want the audience to know exactly what’s going on at certain points. But with many typical “issues” independent short films experience plaguing the film throughout, it’s a difficult story to get into.

The quality of the film itself is disguised by a “film” filter, which becomes repetitive and distracting- seeing the same “scratches/hairs” on the screen over and over again.

With an attempt to be provocative, exciting and cutting edge, the director seems to be trying a little too hard. The story isn’t bad. Nothing is bad for that matter. But there’s not much that’s great either for that matter.

Continuity issues, overall quality issues, sound issues in general (levels being off, etc.), lighting problems, story/script holes, amateur acting, and lack of “professional” feel make it feel quite novice.

When a film jumps around early it’s sometimes a sign of a writer/director taking on too much with the script. It’s a short film, not a complex feature film. Many features fail with this kind of style of film, so of course it’s that much more difficult for a short to accomplish the same goal.

I found the effect of making the short look like it shot on film quite terrible. It was distracting and cheesy. When it becomes repetitive and noticeable, perhaps one should re-consider.

I often found myself confused by what was going on; phone conversations where we can only hear one side of the conversation, time jumps, and issues such as dirty mirrors began to plague my viewing experience.

Many inexperienced filmmakers don’t realize this simple fact- mirrors, windows and cars should be clean and clear of spots and marks. Otherwise it becomes distracting. Put on your favourite film and spot the cars/mirrors/windows that are used for dialogue scenes- that are dirty. It just doesn’t happen very often (few exceptions of course!).

I think with some basic camera movements (much lacking), which some more “style” the next film, that Mr. Mendez could produce something quite interesting. But without the knowledge and experience I found lacking in this film I found it to be quite basic and very difficult to become “involved” as a viewer.

A lesson to first-time (or any filmmaker)- don’t try and take on too much. Even doing something very simple- well- can be extremely difficult. Don’t make it challenging on yourself by writing or taking on a “big” story. It can very easily work against you.