Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Action Creative and Writer/Director, Ren Thackham for allowing me early access to an online screener of her latest short film “Round Trip”. Round Trip is a 6-minute Action/Crime/Comedy short set in the desolate Australian outback. A young Constable Rose (played by Danny Bolt) is en route in his patrol car with tattoo covered and unpredictable prisoner Ned Williams (Lee Priest) stuck in the back. All that stands between seeing the arrest through is a mysterious piece of road on aboriginal land that might just serve as the salvation Ned seeks.
Ever since I started getting involved in amateur filmmaking I’ve been keen to check out other homegrown films. This latest short from Thackham (and my introduction to her) is truly the work of a consummate professional. It starts with experienced DP, Susan Lumsdon, who presents us with the most cinematic of shorts. Everything is wonderfully framed, she utilizes constructive focus pulls in clever places and the wide shots of the vast and barren landscape are simply stunning. The isolated setting makes for the ideal ambiance of a good clean audio track. Aside from a bit of drum use, composer Rafael May (The Reef and Black Water) appears to draw on something completely fresh, with a majority of the score seemingly conceived with the sound of clashing boomerangs and didgeridoo (an indigenous woodwind instrument). Bolt and Priest are both naturals and deliver really even dramatic and comedic performances. Round Trip contains something you rarely see in the world of short filmmaking, a car stunt. A practical, high-speed flip the result of which is amazing. Kudos go to Ren and the stunt team for pulling that off. Viewers will be somewhat caught off guard with the tone and direction of Round Trip, but in the best way possible.
My only complaint is that with the particular plot device introduced, it warrants much more detailing in the specifics of how it takes hold. A difficult notion to infuse within such a short run time.
When it comes to shorts, they can sometimes be a mixed bag (depending on budget and experience levels of those involved). Round Trip is a prime example of the cream rightfully rising to the top. The cinematography highlights Ren’s professional production value, the sound and score are superb, and the two performances complement the quality of the material. The vehicle stunt is a highlight and the key plot device is both intriguing and immersive. The only issue with Round Trip is that it calls for a major expansion, hell, I’d be the first to back it too. I simply can’t recommend this short film enough, and if all is right in our wonderful universe it’ll be amongst the conversation for the best short film of the year. I can’t wait to see what Ren and Co. do next. Keep an eye out for this one soon!
My rating for Round Trip is 9/10