Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Vampire’s kiss

I was delighted when Jordan, my friend’s son-in-law, made his target for Kickstarter funding for his time travel film Möebius. I wrote about this two weeks ago. We can now look forward to seeing at some point this short film about Joanna and her desperate jumps through time to prevent her grandfather’s fatal accident.

This was the first time I have participated with a Kickstarter project, and it seems to be a brilliant concept. You can fund something that sounds interesting to you for as little as a dollar. For a filmmaker that can make a huge difference as that dollar gets multiplied by all the people out there who decide to participate. It’s an easy (and as cheap as you want) way to live out your dream to be movie producer.

Short films continue to be the breeding ground for new movie talent. Not only does this format provide a handy calling card for up-and-coming filmmakers wanting to show what they can do, but the short film format has become an entrenched niche in film festivals, television, DVD compilations and on-demand web sites.

A couple of years ago I wrote about a short film called Freak, which was written and directed by Eric Casaccio. It was a touching portrait of an aspiring actor preparing for an audition and featured a fine performance by Aaron Merken. Casaccio is now back with another 18-minute film, called Narcissist. While the earlier film was about the trauma of putting yourself out there for likely career rejection, the new film is about a different kind of personal trauma—getting out of (and past) a bad romantic relationship.

In describing the personal dynamics of his flick, Casaccio compares the experience of being involved with a narcissistic sociopath to having the life sucked out of you by a vampire. While the word vampire is not heard in the film itself, there is a rather remarkable dream sequence that skillfully develops as much tension as any horror movie and that brings home the emotional experience of being in a figuratively bloodsucking relationship.

The main role is played by Hunter Lee Hughes as Evan, who deftly conveys the sense of being traumatized by someone manipulative and controlling. His foil is Brionne Davis, who totally convinces us that the sincere and trusting Evan could be mesmerized by him. With a charm not unlike that of Paul Newman in his heyday, Davis’s baby blue eyes attract but hint at a certain coldness.

Hunter Lee Hughes in a scene from Narcissist

One of the memorable bits of Freak was the distinctive voice of Angela McEwan as Merken’s mother. This time around we also see her image—in a photo as Evan’s grandmother. Based on these glimpses, she seems like a great character. Let’s hope Casaccio finds a more prominent role for her in his next movie. [Update: The director points out to me that McEwan is featured in the role of Peg Nagy in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, nominated for six Oscars. A look at IMDb reveals that McEwan is quite busy, including guest spots on such notable TV shows as Parks and Recreation and New Girl. “Someday, I will get Angela’s voice and body in front of the camera,” says Casaccio. “She’s a wonderful actress and fantastic friend."]

Casaccio’s co-producer is Steven Tylor O’Connor, whose own films include A Fairy Tale and Welcome to New York. They and their collaborators have turned out another impressive bite-sized drama. Casaccio reports that Freak went on to garner 16 awards on the festival circuit and that it is the subject of negotiations for a video-on-demand distribution release.

There is every reason to expect that Narcissist will be at least as successful as it makes the film festival rounds this year. Check out the movie’s official website at

-S.L., 22 January 2014

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