For all of us who have felt like we are invisible out in the world, writer/director Nick Testa's Opacity offers a literal and lighthearted take on our social anxieties. I interviewed Mr. Testa about his seminal short, which follows Kurt (Jonathan Grebe), a blogger living in San Francisco, who we learn is one of a small number of people who are literally invisible.
“The film is one big metaphor,” Testa explains, “about the feeling of invisibility in today’s society.”
Kurt struggles with the mechanical difficulties of being unseen, like constantly being bumped into or stepped on, but ultimately he seems comfortable, if not content, in his current state. He is guided by his shut-in friend, Mac (Raul Delarosa), who he talks to over the phone and who provides both useful advice for Kurt and exposition for the audience. Mac is himself a former member of the invisible fraternity, having only been “switched-on,” or made permanently visible to the world, after he was struck by a car.
Testa describes the relationship between Kurt and Mac: “Mac and Kurt mirror one another. They embody each others worst fears. Mac is paralyzed by the thought of being seen; Kurt is terrified of wasting away, alone like Mac.”
Mac does all he can to convince Kurt of the horrors of being switched-on, but Kurt’s curiosity about the world of the visible leads him down a path from which he cannot turn back. Kurt meets the bubbly and free-spirited Kara (Brianna Rodriguez), who is inexplicably able to see him, at park while doing “research” for his blog. Their “meet-cute” is painfully awkward and leaves Kurt with more questions than answers about what is means to be seen.
“Jonathan Grebe was great,” Testa says, speaking highly of his leading man. “He was really able to portray the uncomfortable, awkward character we needed for Kurt. There’s not a sea of actors in San Francisco, so we were lucky that he so was perfect for the role.”
Kurt meets Kara a second time and soon finds himself on what turns out to be their first date. Kurt is still only seen by Kara but he begins to experience what he believes to be the first “symptoms” of being switched-on. “There’s no one right way to be switched-on,” Testa adds. “For Mac it was the trauma of the car accident, for Kurt it’s Kara.” Kurt ultimately finds himself at a crossroads, where he must face his fears and decide for himself whether or not to let the world see him for who he really is.
Opacity is an interesting concept, somewhat reminiscent ofBrad Silberling’s City of Angels but with a more traditional science fiction twist. The acting and dialogue are well executed, and the cinematography and SFX are better than expected from a low budget production. Pascal Garneau’s original score is a haunting, minimalist soundtrack that perfectly sets the tone for every scene. This 20-minute short seems more suited to a feature length film as I was left wondering about the world of the Invisibles: Were they born this way? How did they become unseen? Are they even human at all? “If I adapted it as a feature,” Testa explains, “I would definitely go deeper into the science fiction elements.”
Opacity is worth a watch whether you're visible or otherwise.
Nick Testa just finished work on a new film called “Moses,” written and directed by Uzoma Okoro. “It’s dark, dark, dark,” Testa warns. “Much darker than anything I’ve ever done before.” Watch the trailer here:
What did you think of the short film? Comment below and let us know!