Short Film Review “Shoot Me Nicely”



First, the Recap:

Is anyone ever really ready for what appears at times to be the ever-present, well, presence of the media eye? With a camera in every cell phone, it’s hard enough to maintain any sense of anonymity, though so much of this is self-imposed and rather self-indulgent.  But, if you’re a celebrity, getting caught with your literal or proverbial pants down can truly ruin your day. Pro photographer Sean Wheeler (John Behlmann) has been a bit down on his luck. However, when a little, unexpected moment of–overexposure–occurs involving a well-known political TV host named Roy Barnes (William Sadler) and his new beau Lydia (Diana Durango) in an alleyway, the pic Sean snaps could be his meal ticket.

About to be kicked out of his apartment by his landlord Larry (Jackie Martling) and dealing with a less-then-committed, only-when-she-“needs it” supermodel ex-girlfriend Melinda (Fiona Hardingham), Sean turns to his agent Layla (Linda Hamilton) for a better paying gig when “the pic” doesn’t pay as expected. Signing on for a fashion shoot with high-profile designer Sebastien (Lukas Hassel), Sean believes things are looking up. Instead, he is confronted by Barnes about the entire situation, finding out the hard way Barnes isn’t forgetting the pic anytime soon. Stuck in another predicament, Sean’s luck once again seems to be turning when he meets a young woman named Vanessa (Tasie Lawrence) at his friend Lando’s (Josh Burrow) bar. Discovering a secret she has, he attempts to turn it to his advantage, but further humiliation awaits.

Next, my Mind:

For this reviewer, writer/director/producer/editor Elias Plagianos’ 19-minute indie short film/potential TV Pilot effort both soars and crashes.  As to the latter first, it was mainly a personal preference thing, as the narrative’s primary moment that sets the entire premise afloat was given via a rather disturbing visual I sincerely could have totally done without, even despite it being presented for humor. This said, before and more importantly beyond this, the character-centric dramatic and comedic flare that’s presented is well-executed, beautifully professional cinematographic execution is tendered, and the basic foundational gist of a storyline centered on a photographer trying to make his way in an unforgiving and self-absorbed industry seems quite apropos, given the world’s worship of celebrity and more specifically the scandals often induced by the media. I could certainly see this as a possible weekly sitcom addressing situations like the one presented here in a comedic light, so it will be interesting to see if this manages to get to that stage of development by Plagianos.

Behlmann delivers understated bravado and a keen sense of intelligent humor and drama in his role as Wheeler, a pro photographer whose gained his reputation among his “lesser” paparazzi peers–and he knows it, coming across confident but also overtly self-assured of his higher accomplishments.  Yet, with his workload barely above board, “the pic” seems to be the opportunity he’s been waiting for until it backfires in his face.  Suffering other, albeit milder, indignities in his existence as well, Wheeler’s struggle to regain relevance (and a good payday!) is both believable and well-played by Behlmann. The viewer cannot help, though, to get a some sense of satisfaction in seeing Wheeler get foiled in his pursuits. He’s a genuine guy to a certain extent, but if that right instance comes along, all bets are off and he will gladly take whatever advantage he needs to in order to get ahead. Again, he’s a lovable cad, and Behlmann embodies it to a “T” here.

Sadler is one of Hollywood’s great character actors, and he’s quite adept at playing a humorously slimy character, which is exactly what happens here as Barnes, a shady conservative politico talk show host whose ego and overly prolific yearning for women gets him in a heap of trouble. You love to hate the guy, and Sadler just nails this so wonderfully. It is wonderful to see Hamilton on screen again, and she deftly performs her role as Sean’s lightly sassy, highly successful agent Layla, who has her client’s best interests in mind–if he would just stop overstepping and screwing up. Hamilton is wonderful throughout with the screen time she’s given. Lawrence is also perfect as the seemingly innocent Vanessa, whose doe-eyed first conversation with Sean would seem to make one think he has her in the palm of his hand–until he chooses to try and simply use her for his own gain, which she oh so cleverly turns back on him in spades. Welcome to showbiz, kid!

Additional turns here are equally fun, with Martling’s hilariously prototypical landlord Larry, complete with crazy shirt and non-nonsense attitude, Durango as Roy’s ever-so-willing girlfriend Lydia who doesn’t mind being in “the pic” at all, Hardingham as Sean’s supermodel ex Melinda who just seems to love stringing him along whether he wants it or not, Hassel as fashion magnate Sebastien, a funny mock-up of that world’s denizens and their often haughty yet friendly nature, and Burrow as Sean’s rather dense-but-thinks-he’s-all-that bartender Lando whose general demeanor is just plain funny to watch. Other appearances are made by Joe Holt, Danny Kuo, Caitlin Mehner, Jason Plagianos, and Lindsay Torrey. In total, “Shoot Me Nicely” is a wry, tongue-in-cheek, satirical look at the entertainment industry through an uncommon perspective–a photographer–and it again has that potential for sitcom treatment. Time will tell!

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!


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