by Faruq Oyekan
Loneliness, change, and the pursuit of happiness.
These are the themes expressed in filmmaker Jorge Garrido’s debut short film Despertar. Coming in at a runtime of eight minutes and twenty-nine seconds, Despertar, is a film that tells a story of a somewhat goofy loner, played by the film’s lead Joel Duquenne, stuck in the grind of a daily routine. Eventually this young man meets a beautiful young woman played by actress Marine Berthelot, and what happens next is the classic unfolding of boy meets girl and love at first sight.
Concluding with a bittersweet ending this film does a fabulous job at showcasing how love can motivate change in a person, and ultimately cause them to grow.
The film’s strong point is its cinematography and choice of music.
Stunning shots of the main character’s breakfast and even his lunch will keep you engaged and entertained as the film progresses.
The inclusion of music by artists The National and Future Islands add a sense of emotion, which beautifully illustrates the development of the main character.
While charming and nicely shot the film does struggle in some aspects. However, not in a bad way, coming in at eight minutes, the film ends with the viewer wanting more, specifically a conclusion to a love story that seems to have barely begun in the film.
Leaving your viewer wanting more never seems like a bad thing, and depending on what this film hoped to achieve it may have not been a wrong turn. But for myself, at the end of this viewing I wanted more of a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and I was left feeling like the main exposition had only just ended, and that the story had only just begun.
Ambitious, simple, and charming.
Three different words, but three words that are perfect to describe the feeling this short will leave you with. The film is ultimately a promising directorial debut, that’ll leave you highly anticipating this director’s future films.
I had to chance to speak with the director Jorge Garrido, and our interview is below:
Q: What motivated the creation of this short film?
Jorge: Since I was a kid I have always been passionate about film to the point I almost studied cinema in college. I ended up studying civil engineering instead.
In 2009, me and my friend Joel Duquenne (the actor in the short) who is a passionate photographer came up with funny story ideas. Later we thought how fun would it be to actually try and do a short film
It wasn’t until 2014 that we had a decent camera to work with and some spare time. That year we decided to go ahead and actually start making the film.
Q: Do you have any prior experience in filmmaking?
Jorge: Technically, no. As a teen, I used to make short videos of personal video game footage.
However, Joel was very into photography, so he had side jobs as a photographer during high school.
Q: Was the film's premise inspired by any real life event?
Jorge: The film is heavily based on the personality of Joel.
The way he acts when he is alone, and the situations that occur to him inspired me to create this lonely character that couldn’t care less about what people thought about him.
Q: From your previous answers it sound like Joel was a driving force in the creation of this short, do you or Joel have any plans to make films in the future? Or is it strictly dependent on your free time? If either of you do have any plans what are they?
Jorge: Joel and I have a very good friendship, and we want to keep making films as long as we have some spare time.
But above all, we want to make sure that with whatever story or idea we have in mind, we truly want to make something that pleases and amuses us, which deeply helps keeping us motivated to do things right. I believe that many great ideas come unexpectedly, so I try not to force myself to invent a story.
That being said, I think I already have a glimpse of an idea for an upcoming film, but it still needs time to shape up.
Q: One of my favorite aspects of your film was the cinematography, specifically in your short we get a shot of a nicely framed set of red chairs, and a nice shot of the lead character's breakfast. What went into planning the cinematography? Was there any difficulty securing locations?
Jorge: The shots on the subway were actually pretty simple to shoot because we went there on whit Monday (June 9) at nearly 10 am, so the subway station wasn't very crowded which simplified our shooting a lot.
However the encounter scene between the two characters was very tricky… We had to place the tripod nearly at the edge of the subway platform and we had to anticipate perfectly the arrival of the subway car along with the arrival of our female character in order to make one long awkward single shot take.
The breakfast scenes were fun to shoot because we meticulously tried to have a perfect 90° degrees take on the table but since we couldn't really make it with our low-end tripod, we had to attach the tripod to the table using cooking strings, we jokingly called these takes the “ Wes Anderson” takes.
Q: I've recently learned the film's title translates into "to wake up" from Spanish. Was there any deeper meaning you tried to address through your film?
Jorge: We named the film Despertar (Awakening) because the film begins with the character waking up but in the other hand, waking up also means remembering, and the second time he wakes up, he remembers the girl (hence the same book the girl is reading) and at the end the character breaks the 4th wall, meaning that he “wakes up” from being a fictional character and gives the audience the freedom to
interpret what the second “awakening” meant.
Q: The music really fit the film well, what went into its selection? Did the music have any influence in the progression of the story?
Jorge: I'm a big fan of indie rock altogether and The National being one of my favorite bands, I felt like I absolutely had to have something from them on my first short film.
As for “Seasons (Waiting on you)” from Future Islands goes, I thought the music and lyrics fitted perfectly with the absent-minded character.
Q: Any interesting stories concerning the production of this short?
Jorge: The bathroom scenes were almost all improvised by Joel, he had to brush his teeth at least 15 times in a single day and it was very hard not to laugh. He kicked me twice from set because of this.
We threw away the dirty cushion from the opening scene as soon as we finished shooting.