I love short films as you know and there are many on offer at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival so I thought I’d try my luck and pick this one at random, purely because the title sounded interesting. Hence the reason I lost 11 minutes 36 seconds of my life (I watched it twice to make sure I hadn’t missed anything) that I will never get back. Here’s the synopsis:
This adventure-drama tells the story of Newt, an ‘unadoptable' boy with special powers who is considered the boy of legend, while also tackling the subject of child fostering.
Now, I try to be positive and open minded when I watch short films. I realise they are usually low/no budget and quite often are either stepping stones for new and emerging talent to go on to bigger and better things or a way for established film makers to break genre and try something completely new so of course allowances are going to be made. However, there is no excuse in this technological day and age when feature films can be successfully made on iPhones, for the badly cut editing and production values of shoogly cam, the camera person being visible in glass reflections or the boom mic dropping into shot. The film-makers didn’t even bother to source a royalty free map for the opening credits, as you can still see the image website watermark where they used the preview image. The story was weak, incomplete and abrupt with the fostering message shoe-horned in, the acting and dialogue were stilted and wooden and several of the camera shots had the characters out of focus. All these issues added up to the reason I had to watch it again. I reasoned that, since it was so bad, maybe it was meant to be a parody of the likes of a Scott Pilgrim type film and I had missed the hook on the first watch. Nope. There was no hook to pick up and none of the issues I had in the first watch through felt like they had been done deliberately for the sake of comedic value so it was plain bad (and not even bad enough to be funny.)
I really hope I’m wrong though and it’s just that I didn’t appreciate some kind of ironic humour that others will pick up on, which is perfectly possible. But, to me, this is NOT the work of a budding film maker, fired with enthusiasm and keen to get his fresh new ideas out in front of a quality festival crowd. This is a first draft/rehearsal tape of a project that someone has been told to do but isn’t interested in completing it in the slightest.
Give it a watch below and let me know what I missed.
Addendum: I was so annoyed by Newt's Journey that, after writing the above review, I went looking online to try and find other work directed by Kristian Baxter and came across this - Man of Sorrows. My god, this can't be by the same person, surely? This film is amazing! Innovative, exciting, beautifully filmed - it just goes to show how wrong you can be sometimes.
Image - EIFF
Image - EIFF