With the openness and accessibility of the internet, virtually anyone is able to upload content. Anyone who wants to make a film now has a distribution channel capable of hitting millions of viewers. As a result, we are starting to see an influx of content online and it seems that in some cases, originality is an afterthought. However, one film that was able to break free from this problem is Woodhead Entertainment‘s ‘Timmy Muldoon and the Search for the Shadoweyes Bandit’ which was not only embodying an original concept but it also pushed boundaries by using technology and experience as a story-telling mechanism. For this post, I want to take a closer look at the film and break down my review into four different sections including:
- Story Deconstruction
- Production Value
1. Story Deconstruction
Shadoweyes puts you into the mind of 12-year-old filmmaker, Timmy Muldoon. You’ll follow the title character as he chases his dream of avenging the death of his partner who died years ago at the hands of the Shadoweyes Bandit. His ultimate run-in with Shadoweyes, fulfills his dreams in ways that only filmmakers can imagine.
The superficial direction for this film is driven by the lead character’s desire to seek vengeance for the death of his partner. However, the main theme for this film is really 13-year-old Timmy Muldoon’s desire to produce a home movie replicating story lines seen on tv and in theatre. In this film, the viewer is slowly taken on a journey from home movie filmmaking to the standard Hollywood epic. Although the first storyline was not necessarily the most unique and ambitious story, it still successfully mimicked what audiences would expect from a ‘B’ movie. However, what made this film successful was the subplot / main theme. The way in which the viewer was treated was extremely original.
2. Production Value
One of the ways in which this film was able to break free from the mold was the way in used the medium to help tell the story. By slowly transitioning from the standard home movie to the Hollywood style, the viewer is taking on a journey of — well, let’s just say disbelief.
What made this film special is the way in which the acting was developed. The acting of the leads was what we would expect from new/young actors and the way in which the acting was executed was genuine. By no means are the performances worthy of an Oscar, rather, the way in which these actors were directed without question does!
The execution of each of the above elements was flawless. I am confident to say that this film is one of the best I have seen online recently.
Interview with Director Tony Yacenda
I have a chance to talk to Tony Yacenda about the film. Below is our interview.
Preston Kanak (PK): Would love to know a little more about yourself. I noticed that you went to Emerson for a BA in film and now live in LA. Can you talk a little about your post-grad journey.
Tony Yacenda (TY): A film degree is a worthless piece of paper. Really. But it’s great network to have. I’d say over half of the names on the credits were people I went to school with at Emerson.
PK: Where did the idea for the story come from? I can relate to this story very easily and appreciate that this story telling method was used.
TY: I always loved the Calvin and Hobbes strips with his imaginary alter egos like Tracer Bullet and Spaceman Spiff, where we see these awesome genre strips written in the voice of a child. I think that might have been part of the inspiration subconsciously.
PK: Any major challenges working on this piece? I noticed that you have worked with Mark Pelligrino before but what was it like working with Cuba Gooding Jr? The dude is crazy talented. Did having him on board push you beyond your comfort zone or was it just another day on set?
TY: It was a trip. Very cool working with actors of those caliber… Especially because they’re gracious and unpretentious enough to work on YouTube comedies. I tried to approach it like I would any other actor. It’s both exciting and nerve-racking. (Jon Bernthal is another one. He’s a top caliber actor, that’ll be a household name very soon)
PK: I love how you jump genres, working with College Humour, on horror films and more edgy projects as well. Where does your passion / style come from? Any inspirations that you are drawing from or are you trying to break from the ‘mold’?
TY: I’ve always been a fan of dark comedy… that’s what I want to do ultimately. I co-produced a film called Funeral Kings that has some of my longer-form narrative style. But in the meantime, I really love working on Sketch comedy with my writing partner Dan Perrault who is really the comedic energy behind our genre parodies. As a director, my role is just to emulate the genre we’re parodying as closely as possible. We tend to cast dramatic actors over comedic actors like they did in “Airplane!” Today, in that arena, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are the cream of the crop.
PK: This film really pushed my expectations as a viewer. On average I watch two movies a day and you still managed to fool me. Any major challenges when you were approaching this piece?
TY: It was a puzzle figuring out how to slowly increase the production value while still holding punches for the end. It’s funny how different people react so differently to the same short.
PK: As a filmmaker, I would find it challenging to find the balance between the high end and low end style but you managed to blend these two seamlessly. Did you have test audiences to see if you pushed the low end effect too far or did you just roll with it in the edit? I feel that the transition between the two was perfect and that a second more of the low end would have lost me BUT coming in too early would have also lost the effect you were going for.
TY: Most of the jumps were in the script. And we tried to have the building action of Timmy’s little cop drama mirror the production value both in terms of building in energy and theme. Plus, comedically, I just thought it was funnier to go into it earlier so that Timmy can be interacting with actors more than twice his age.
PK: I really appreciate what you have accomplished with this piece. What can we expect next from you?
TY: We’re talking about potentially turning it into a series where a group of neighborhood kids make a new genre film every week. But right now we’re developing two feature film projects that we hope to get off the ground in 2013.
If you would like to see more from Tony, make sure to check his website out at Woodhead Entertainment and if you would like to check out Funeral Kings, click here.