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March 10, 2011

FMWL Indie Spotlight - Crestfallen

(2011, Dir. by Jeremiah Kipp.)

For a few years now, I've known a young man by the name of Russ Penning.  Like, the I know him in real life kind of known.  So when Russ came to me one day and said "Hey, I wrote this script and I'm producing a short film based on it", I was more than a bit surprised.  I'm not saying I expected less of Mr. Penning, but you never really expect people you know to be behind an actual film production, especially if you live in Iowa. Russ, undeterred by the challenges around him, did write that script and did produce that short. Now it, entitled Crestfallen, sits before me. 

Deneen Melody stars in the near 6 minute short, which is directed by Jeremiah Kipp and shot by Dominick Sivilli, who were the driving forces behind another popular indie short, Contact, last year.  Here, the trio take control of Mr. Penning's story, which focuses on a young woman who is contemplating suicide...after cutting her wrist.  Oops.

Ms. Melody is the entire focus of the dialogue free film, and her generally clothes-free performance is certainly a brave one.  She does a fine job of showing emotions without speaking, and it was very easy to pick up on her dilemma through her expressions and eye work.  I'm a sucker for silent cinema, and Ms. Melody's work here didn't disappoint.

Kipp and Sivilli definitely control the film, and their ability to tell the full story without words is also an achievement.  Contact was also a film that was more about what is felt than what is spoken, so it's easy to see why they were a good choice to handle this material.  The lighting and framing, particularly in the bathroom where the here and now events of the film take place, is very effective; giving the dramatic film a unsettling and creepy feel to the viewer.

Crestfallen is certainly not going to be a crowd pleaser with its serious look at depression and suicide, and I have to admit I was a little grateful it didn't run longer than the 6 minutes I saw.  I'm sure there's a story that could be told around the scenes we see here, of course, but these few minutes are all about presenting an intense, bleak vision that will keep the viewer thinking about the value of life.

Going back to where I began, I have to say - from the most unbiased perspective that I can - that I'm awfully proud of Russ for making Crestfallen happen.  It takes a ton of guts to go forth and make a vision come true, but he never wavered as he worked toward seeing his film through.  It's rare that I can really say that a film has achieved what it set out to do, but it's obvious to me that he knew what kind of talents he needed to tell his story and found the perfect cast and crew to bring it to life.  As a friend, I'm ecstatic to see that the film came together.

As a lover of cinema, I'm even happier to say that Crestfallen is an impressive dramatic work.  Melody, Kipp, Sivilli, and the rest of the cast and crew have done a great job here, and I look forward to seeing where Crestfallen goes from here. 

If you'd like to watch the film's journey too - and eventually, watch the film itself - keep an eye on Crestfallen's Facebook page for further updates!

1 comment:

R.D. Penning said...

Thank you very much for the great review Mike!