Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror is a hilarious Tarantino-esque thrill ride that does not disappoint. What Jacob Viness has created with Rear View Mirror is a fourteen minute-long action comedy that shines in the realm of acting and the visual grammar of cinema. Viness, truly demonstrates his understanding of the power of dialogue through the short film’s constant examples of witty banter and smooth retorts.
"Rear View Mirror focuses on a hit-man and his client who accidentally kill the wrong guy. They must turn to the shady Rick to help clean up their mistake, but Rick has his own problems to solve with a dangerous man simply known as Daryl."
The stars of the short, Hitman Joe and Dave played by Daniel Beckett and William Webb, have an incredible dynamic that will resonate with the audience and have them engage in their almost natural retorts. Justin McEver and Greg Braunlin shine also in their roles and add a sense of depth and charm to the world of Rear View Mirror.
The story in this short is flawless and entertaining enough to pull in audiences and engage viewers. The narrative that propels the lead characters is one that is simple on the surface, but snowballs into a series of unfortunate events. This snowball is the narrative tool that heightens the short film and transforms it into a thrill ride for all audiences.
There are three primary inspirations for this short. The first I think is pretty obvious and that is Pulp Fiction. I thought it would be cool if Tarantino's coffee character in that film was also the guy who actually took care of the dead bodies, like that character fused with Mr. Wolf(Harvey Keitel). So that was my jumping off point and I decided to make the whole film as sort of a heavy Tarantino homage.
- Jacob Viness
What is particularly fascinating about Rear View Mirror, is its cinematography. Despite its comedy/drama genre, it features fast pace and long camera takes that makes the film feel fast and always in a constant active state. Additionally the use of pans and tilts transforms the camera into a character of its own, with its own set of entertaining traits.
In this short film, you can see a fresh, new voice emerging within Jacob Viness. Viness’ showcases in Rear View Mirror a talent for drama and gritty storytelling approaches. With hints of Boondock Saints and splashes of Pulp Fiction, this short film is a throwback to a crime drama of an earlier time. Fortunately for us, Jacob Viness has revitalized said genre through this short and has added extra flavor that makes this short truly stand out.
Rear View Mirror, is worth the watch and is now on Vimeo. For fans of crime- drama’s and fans of comedies, Rear View Mirror is a short that will not disappoint.
INTERVIEW with Jacob Viness (Director/Writer)
First, what's your story? How did you become a filmmaker?
One of my earliest memories is going to see The Lion King when I was a little kid, I must have been three or four. It mesmerized me and since then I've loved films. As the years went on, I noticed that I was much more aware of what was going on in movies than most kids my age. I remember being a small child and seeing the summer films with my parents and my sister and I would talk to my sister afterwards and she wouldn't remember much of the little details, but I remembered everything. As I got older, my love for films grew and I kind of had my "Come To Jesus" moment and figured the only job fit for me was becoming a filmmaker, so I enrolled in Video Productions class in High School and have been doing it ever since.
What inspired this short?
I wanted the pace of the film to be brisk, very hectic because our characters are in a hectic mindset, so I looked to Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights and its use of Whip Pans. We used a ton of whip pans in this film because I think they look cool, but more importantly, it gives the visuals a quick hectic feel. And lastly, I took a lot of cues from the first half of Spielberg's Jaws for a lot of my cinematography choices. Jaws has a lot of mini long takes as I like to call them. They aren't in your face like these four minute long takes you see by Anderson or Scorsese, but they are thirty second to a minute and half takes, instead of a lot of coverage. I love that. Any time you can cover the scene in fewer shots, relying on good blocking instead of a lot of cutting, you keep your actors fresh, so we did that a lot.
Any interesting production stories?
You know, this shoot went by pretty briskly and we didn't have much issues. I remember telling my DP, Joey Kopanski, after we wrapped that it felt too good to be true. I was convinced I'd get to editing it and there would be glaring issues, but that didn't happen, Thank God. I think our most interesting day was the first day of production, which was all the car stuff. Our car mount wouldn't go on the side of the car and I knew we needed at least one more shot aside from the two shot from the hood. We got some pretty crappy footage with the camera hand held in the back of the seat, but that wasn't working. At almost the exact same time, Joey and I suggested putting the camera on the trunk, giving it almost a Grand Theft Auto feel to it. We quickly fell in love with the shot and we all kept talking about how cool that shot was. Then, I went home and The Graduate was on TCM and I realized that that exact shot in used throughout The Graduate, which is one of my all time favorite films. I think it was subliminal that we chose that shot.
What is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
I had been using a shot sheet for awhile before Rear View Mirror, but I normally just met up with Joey and looked at visual references and my horribly drawn storyboards. Then we'd do a quick walk through before shooting. Starting with Rear View Mirror, we did all of that, but also actually met up at the location a week before shooting with some stand ins and basically shot the whole film without dialogue with stand ins. I even edited the footage. Then when it came to shooting, I could tell Joey the next shot and he and the crew could set up pretty much to a tee of how I wanted it and I would be in another area working with the actors. It was incredibly efficient. You're not always going to have the luxury of that much pre-production time, but ever since then our pre-production workflow has been much more thorough. Our last two projects had a lot more pre-production meetings and rehearsals.
Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
I'm in the sound mixing stages of a new short film about a printer salesman who is actually selling...well that's the twist. It's a dry comedy. That should be out in the summer. I also have a few other shorts in the works and possibly a feature that's gotten a little bit of funding, but that's kind of fallen through at the moment. We'll see. I'm always trying to do something.
Any advice to filmmakers?
I'd have to say the best advice I can give to filmmakers is to find a crew that you love. Our crew works together on the projects I direct, projects my AD directs, projects my DP directs, projects that one crew member gets involved with and gets all of us involved with ect. It's really amazing. We're all good friends and we help each other out. Whether it's through film school or whatever, find like minded people to work with. The other thing I will say is the biggest issue with a lot of lower budget films is the actors. We can all go crazy about all the new camera tech, but the average audience member isn't going to notice that. They are watching for the story which is driven mostly by actors. If your actors suck, then most audience members are going to be turned off. Spielberg has always been a believer in the rule that 90% of directing is in the casting and I agree. If you cast well, you are already in great shape. I don't mean you have to find Oscar winners either. Casting well is casting the right actor for the right role, not necessarily the best overall actor. City of God is one of the best films I've ever seen and it's cast is filled with almost all non-actors. It wasn't necessarily that these kids were all Marlon Brando, but they were all from similar backgrounds as the kids they were playing so they were perfect for their roles. They probably wouldn't have been as good if they were playing upper class American kids. Say you're telling a story about a band, get an actor who's in a band to be in it or even better, write shorts around your actor friend's strengths. That's all part of directing a performance. If you get a good crew and cast well, you'll be well on your way.