By midlandsmovies, Dec 22 2019 11:04PM
Midlands Review - On in 15
Directed by Joseph Archer
On in 15 is a new short from filmmaker Joseph Archer and is set backstage at a gig during the hedonistic days of 1990s Cool Britannia.
After a band frontman (Ryland played by Sky Cheeba) falls into a drug-induced blackout 15 minutes before show time, band member Simon (Tobias Cornwell) tries to keep everyone calm whilst manager Martin (Christopher Mulvin) screams his concerns to anyone within earshot about the impending show.
With the background noise of a waiting crowd heard from afar which sets the scene, the true technical achievement is that the entire short is filmed in one take. No digital edits or clever cutting here, the filmmaker keeps the characters in one space but follows them as each one enters into the pre-show problems.
One take shots have been a staple of cinema over the years and can be seen in a variety of genres including Ray Liotta’s entrance to the club in Goodfellas, Park Chan-Wook’s corridor fight in Oldboy and Children of Men, Roma AND Gravity from Alfonso Cuarón.
Although working with a lower budget here, much like those movies this sequence requires a huge degree of planning and complexity which is done more than successfully in this short.
The technique is used to its best when switching between the characters and although the location is just one place – and a rather sparse set – the clever movement of the camera in On in 15 is certainly impressive.
With all the cast given just the one chance to get it right, the “oner” technique is fascinating as the short plays out a bit like a small act of theatre. Although the performances are a little over-the-top at times, given the nature of the piece some exaggerated drama has been creatively used to take the place of camera cuts and edits.
With stage manager Jasmine (Maya Moes) and fellow band-mates Charlie (Ed Newman) and Miche (Phoebe Farrington) joining the melee, the lack of a lead singer starts to raise the stakes as no-one wants to take on the role. But the decision is made to try and get him to vomit up the drugs although that proves problematic, and messy, too.
I have to admit I was slightly confused as to the band’s career level as the crowd overdub sounds more like a stadium but the members have day-jobs and there’s talk of playing weddings. As someone who learnt guitar during the Britpop era and played in bands in the 00s, a bit sharper detail would add to the realism. However, the battle and conflict between a day job and a creative passion is something many people face and is a relevant story arc within the main narrative.
That said, that pet peeve doesn’t impact the short as it is more comedic than a documentary and the quick fire dialogue is blasted back and forth to maintain the film’s pace. Again, this helps to keep interest up in the absence of other shots.
As more shocking revelations occur the short works better as it goes along as the camera moves between the groups of people and their mini-dramas, and the writing stays sharp and witty. The technical aspects are a joy of course and the detailed planning of such a device is impressively delivered. However, that shouldn’t take away from the tight script either.
In the end then, On in 15 is an excellent slice of music fun and just this one shot contains more characters and story beats than many other more conventionally made comedy-dramas.