Devil's Damned To Try
by Faruq Oyekan
Devil’s Damned To Try is a visually stunning and mentally stimulating short film by writer and director Marshall Burnette.
Coming in at a length of 22 minutes, unlike most short films, Devil’s Damned To Try is one with a long build up, but a huge payoff. For viewers who are patient and willing to invest deeply in a short story, Marshall Brunette does not disappoint.
In simple terms, the plot is crazy. Not Primer crazy, but just crazy enough that you may have to watch it a few times. However, that is a good thing! The impact of this short film comes from unraveling the mystery, then watching it again and again to see what you missed.
The multiple timelines swirled in with plot twists and turns will leave you head scratching and saying to yourself “I did not see that coming”. Marshall Brunette does not only show off that he is a marvelous director in this short, but that he is also a master of mystery and suspense.
The short is also beautifully shot! From the moment the film begins the viewer is welcomed into the world through a stunning outdoor shot of the film’s main protagonist burying a rifle.
The cast, primarily the film’s lead Riley Anglen does a wonderful job portraying the peculiar characters in this film. Pact with sequences without much dialogue, the film’s cast is still able to express a variety of emotion and stages of dramatic tension.
To accompany the stellar cast is a chilling score that creates the dark and grim mood of the short film.
If you are a fan of mystery and dark, twisted tales, Devil’s Damned To Try delivers.
INTERVIEW with Marshall Josh Burnette (Director/Writer)
First, how long have you been film making? What got you interested?
I grew up obsessed with watching movies. I watch anything and everything I could find. I'm from a small town where no one really does the filmmaking thing so I had no exposure to the craft until film school. I worked at a small local TV broadcast company in Tennessee for a couple years and learned a little bit about cameras and editing. I got a bachelor degree in Parks and Rec Management from a state school then took a year off and decided I wanted to go to film school in Vancouver, BC. All in all, I've been doing this for about 8 years now.
How'd you come up with the story for this film?
I made a music video with the lead actor Riley Anglen a couple years ago and wanted to do something else with him. He is not a trained actor, just a really good friend who understands human emotion really well. 'Devil's' is only his 2nd time on camera. We are both from a small town in Tennessee so hunting is very familiar to us. I found a European news story about a hunting accident where the men buried the body and kept it a secret for years until they turned themselves in. It was very interesting to us so I wrote based on that idea.
Were there any difficulties during the production of this short?
There always are. We had a finicky picture car, the blue suburban that caught fire on us two times. The 1-take scene where the hunter smashes his head into a mirror took us 8 hours to pull off, Riley's head never actually touches the mirror. It was a lot of choreography and practical effects. A lot of the scenes were dependent on natural light, so we had to work really fast. But the weather turned out to be in our favor. All in all, things worked out. We had to cut a couple scenes from the shooting list, but were still able to capture the important elements of the story.
Has the film-making process changed for you, since you've made this short?
It has helped introduce me to some new people and collaborators, but for the most part everything is still the same. I think this short film has been a great proving ground. I was able to prove myself and show people that I can make something worth watching. I will probably have to self-finance my next short film. And I'm always fighting for creative control of music videos that I direct. But I think people have a little more faith in me now, hopefully.
How has the reaction been like to the short?
It's been great! It was tough getting accepted into film festivals, I think because of the length of the film, but everyone that has seen the film has really enjoyed it. Most people feel very panicked or disturbed when it's over, which I think is what we were going for.
What projects do you have lined up for the future?
Well, I have teamed up with a production company in New York to develop a feature film based on a true story about a tragic accident in a small farming community. We have begun taking research trips and the writing process and hope to have a script ready in a few months. We hope to be shooting this time next year. Until then, I am busy working crew gigs and directing music videos here in Nashville.
Any advice for filmmakers?
Best advice I got to give is make it happen for yourself. No one else is going to make your film for you, so you've got to figure out how much of a risk you’re willing to take and then invest in it.