As is the usual case, there were a lot of talented entertainment guests at Days of the Dead "Culture Shock." I roamed through the various rooms and talked to many of the guests.
When I came across the "Pieces of Talent" booth, I was immediately drawn into the short clip of the movie that was playing. There was something very intriguing and different about it.
I met and talked to Kristi Ray, the lead actress, and Joe Stauffer, the writer and director. I did not meet David Long, the male star (who coincidentally plays a character named David Long), but I did see his face on several cardboard cutouts (a cool promo piece, which many attendees took and wore).
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Kristi and Joe at the most recent Days of the Dead. I got to talk to Kristi at length about the film. The resulting interview is below. I picked up my autographed copy and promised to review it (good or bad).
Last Friday night, I ordered a pizza, poured a chilled Coke and settled in for the much-anticipated viewing. I'm not a movie reviewer by trade, but I know what I like and I loved "Pieces of Talent." I think it will become a cult classic.
"Pieces of Talent" is an independent film about a young woman named Charlotte who befriends a film-maker named David. At its simplest, purest form, it is about these two people who are drawn to each other (but not in a cliche sort of way). On the other hand, the story goes beyond just them. It is sort of small picture/big picture all in one.
That kind of juxtaposition is seen throughout the movie. Much the same, it is also beautiful and horrific. It is fast and yet deliberate. Labeling it is a bit of a challenge, which is one reason why it works so well.
The outcome was not predictable. I had no idea how it would end. The climax was shocking in what developed, but not ridiculous within the context of the story. It made sense. It fit.
The final scenes were dramatic and even poignant. They were also terrifying, but not in a "scare you out of your seat" way. The realism, depth and meaning are the real frightening aspects.
"Pieces of Talent" captured the essence of a true horror movie. It isn't about graphic, numerous kills. It isn't about rapid fire twists and shocks. It was a slow, intentional build with purpose. In the end, I felt a bit drained, because it had got me emotionally invested.
In the interview, Kristi talked about the character of David. It would have been easy to write and play him as a villainous creep. He does have some aspects of that, but there is more to him. There is a scene in a bowling alley which struck me. I think that scene speaks volumes on David.
To go a couple steps more, I loved the camera work. Again, it wasn't over the top, but it was highly effective. One example which struck me was a scene where someone spits at the camera. The moisture creates a blurred effect of the action, which worked so well.
There are plenty of other interesting examples, like watching part of the action through David's lens in a "movie within a movie" way. It is short and subtle, but a neat little bit.
There is not a huge plot with a ton of action. "Pieces of Talent" relies on the small things and the characters. There are a lot of nuances and I am sure I missed some, which is why I will watch it again (and again). IMDB lists 14 total characters in the movie. That should tell you how important the story and the characters are.
Independent films like "Pieces of Talent" rely a lot on word of mouth. There is not a big budget for advertising, which is a shame. Kristi and Joe are out there spreading the word and you can tell they are so passionate about this movie. I am now firmly on the "Pieces of Talent" bandwagon and I hope you jump on, too.