Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.
Tonight we’re reviewing Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson:
A family fight in the background. Someone zapping the TV channels. A boy. We’re introduced to Blinky, a helper robot. The boy tells his parents that he knows what he wants for christmas. Afterwards, they turn Blinky on. The boy is excited for having his new robot. They happily play around. The boy throws bubbles at him. Plays frisbie. Blinky serves drinks to his parents. They play hide and seek. Cowboy. Blinky can’t catch the frisbie. The boy seems disappointed.
— 2-minute mark. We have one of the best introductions so far. It is possible to make a futuristic plot if you don’t relay in an entirely complex futuristic world, otherwise you spend too much time on explanations. Blinky goes straight to the point and we quickly spot the boy’s disenchantment with the robot.
Blinky is counting while the boy looks for a hideout. The kid spots their parents fighting once again. Blinky is carrying the store bags for the boy as they get back home. A humanoid robot, possibly more modern, passes by them. Blinky admires him. The boy is just jealous. When they start walking again, one of the bags rip and all the goods fall into the sidewalk. The boy simply moves on.
Blinky is counting again. A rain starts. “Ready or not. Here i come” claims him. The boy is cuddling his dog. “I found you” says the robot. “Would you like to play another game?” asks the robot. “Sure” says the kid. Blinky starts counting from 10000 and down in the rain. The boy stares at him. “Stop counting” demands the boy. Blinky stops. “Why did you stop counting?” inquires the minor. Blinky offers to proceed. The kid also orders him to stay completely still for the next 24h. The robot restarts counting. The boy picks a bucket of paint and kicks it in front of Blinky. “I want you to clean this” he requests. Blinky obeys. “I told you not to move. I told you to not stop counting” affirms the boy, whom then blames Blinky for doing nothing about his parents constant arguments. In his anger speech, the boy suggests that Blinky should kill his parents, himself and everybody. The robot agrees with everything. “No problem. No problem. No problem”. Until it seems to break. The kid calls his mom. She comes up to check on Blinky and tells him to restart Blinky. She threats him that if he keeps doing this crap she’ll tell Blinky to serve him for dinner. The boy restarts it. Such a prick.
— 8-minute mark. This scene in the rain was quite long, i must admit. But seems so necessary. One of the biggest mistakes on short films is that the dialogues don’t rise, they simply pop up. Conversations go from one point to the other and most of the time the short films are merely illustrations of the outcome, as we could see clearly in the disaster i reviewed yesterday. Was this rain scene too long? Yes. Was it necessary? Hopefully. Was it well done? Certainly.
The boy can’t sleep. Blinky supports him, yet the boy gets rid of it. The boy brings his distrust towards the robot up to his parents. They believe that he just wants them to buy him a new one. The kid watches TV. Blinky comes up and asks if he would like to play another game. The boy throws his “tablet” at its head. A glass breaks in the ground. The boy orders him to clean it up. Blinky goes to the kitchen. He ends the countdown and comes up with an electric knife. “Ready or not, here i come”.
Dinner table. The parents and Blinky. The humans eat. “Do you like your meatballs?” asks Blinky. “Have you seen Alex?” queries the mom. Then Blinky informs that he cooked Alex and that they’re eating him.
The police arrives at the house. Blinky is cleaning up the blood. Some cops get inside. Blinky closes the door. Direct cut at him sawing someone else.
— This not a bad short altogether. There’s a lot to learn from the “rain scene”, as how conflict insert via dialog should rise instead of pop. It must ascend from a neutral level to a higher value. Conflict should be naturally input, not solely exposed.
— Another thing to learn from Blinky is on its misstep. After the rain scene, we have the bedroom scene, in which the boy can’t sleep, after that the kid tells his parents he doesn’t trust the robot. There’s a huge difference between being SICK of something and MISTRUST something. Sometimes you’re tired of your family, it doesn’t mean you mistrust it. The film makes the first point very clear, since the 2-minute mark, yet the bedroom scene should introduce us to the suspicion. even so it doesn’t, it only hits the same key that the boy is sick of his outdated toy. Another gratuitous scene on that same key is the “modern robot in the sidewalk” one. Being obsolete might be a reason to dislike Blinky, but by that moment we were aware that the boy was fed up with it, so there was no point into knocking in that door again. You’re doing a short film, don’t feed your viewer too much, make precise scenes that will inform everything you need and move on with your story. This film is not vague, it just seems to believe that when it repeats itself like that.
— Back to the failing mistrust scene, i must underline how important it is when writing a scene to have your objectives as writer crystal clear on your mind. And don’t be satisfied with the outcome at first. “Did i achieve my goal?”. “Is it the best way to do it?”. You should interrogate yourself all the time until you realize there’s nothing better to attain your objective.
19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness; (read)
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu; (read)
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.