Short: “Sequin Raze”

Sometimes, short films, other than being entertaining, can have a much bigger impact than expected. They can lead to compelling pilots, which ultimately leads to an addictive, compelling, and well received TV show. Sometimes a feature film, but that’s for another time. Either way, short films are clearly a good way to start if you want to be in television or film.

The Film School Shorts and American Film Institute (AFI) film “Sequin Raze”, is brutal, almost sadistic, but fun look at what it takes to create reality TV.

This short film stars Ashley Williams (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”, “October Kiss”), Anna Camp (upcoming “Café Society”, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), and France’s Conroy (“The Real O’Neals”, “Casual”).

It is written and directed by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (“UnREAL”, “The Faith Diaries”).

It became available to stream on various platforms, including Vimeo (included below) on June 3, 2016. Previously it was available to rent from the official AFI webpage. The short film debuted at SXSW on March 8, 2013 where it won one award and was nominated for another.

You have no idea how excited I am about this short film. No idea! I’m over the moon!! Why? It’s finally available for free!! Sure I was contemplating paying the ninety-nine cents this would’ve cost me on the AFI website, but I kept putting it off, and I lucked out. Fortunately it was picked up and streamed courtesy of an organization that sounds perfect for those that love short films! I’m excited, as I’m always wondering how to watch more, or think about watching more. Now I have a way. Just like I am now able to talk about this film, which didn’t at all disappoint.

I think I automatically expected these few characters to be amazing, which as I just thought about, is going to make it hard to separate this film from the TV show which followed. The good and the bad about this being the starting point of an incredibly well done show. I’ll do my best not to mix the two, but I’m sure I’ll cross over. Sorry.

Anyway, these characters were fascinating. Camp, who once again reminds me why I like her as an actress, and wouldn’t mind seeing her in more dramatic things, was nothing short of brilliant. She had everything a contestant on any reality show probably should have. Watching her slowly lose it emotionally, and then be manipulated by Williams, was too exciting, but also sad because Camp’s such a sympathetic character. I also had no trouble getting used to seeing either woman, which I feel says a lot about Shapiro’s ability to write and create overall. It’s almost like it was just another segment of a long running short film series, or a TV series.

Williams, who is the precursor to Shiri Appleby’s Rachel, was similar, yet so different. She was very complex, likable, but awful all at once. I really applaud Williams for creating this character, but the hard part now, as I said above, is there were just so many similarities to Appleby’s character, whom we know so well now. I’ll come back to that in a moment. Still, I found something interesting in Williams’ Rebecca, but I’m not sure what that is. However, that being said, and seeing as it applies to Camp as well, this film wasn’t truly about them on a personal level. Possibly a lot of shorts aren’t, but I wouldn’t know. You did get some information about them, either spoken or shown through the performances, but that was it. But, due to the talents of these two women, I’d say they did so well of bringing complex women to life, and doing it in a short time period.

Performances made this worth it, and kept it feeling familiar, which again makes sense, but it’s everything else that really blew me away and had me loving what I was watching, especially from the standpoint of seeing what was done first. It’s just as juicy, sadistic, and compelling, plus many more things I don’t feel I need to mention. It balanced glamour and behind the scenes so well, and never lost me once. Best 20 minutes I spent today! When I was watching the film, I could instantly spot the various storylines, character back stories, and even film shots that were at least shown in the pilot for “UnREAL”. That excited me just as much as watching the short! I definitely found that not only was it deserving of the nomination it got, and win, but it’s one of those reasons why I wish short films played more or were announced to large majority of people. There’s so much we’re clearly missing out on.

Some short films are truly an underrated medium, but though them, many amazing stories can be told. Maybe I’ve just not seen enough bad short films (fortunately), or just enough short films in general, which I know I haven’t, and I don’t know the differences in this medium. However, while I continue to work on this, I know there a lot of hope. This film could’ve turned out differently or I simply thought maybe the series would be too overpowering and telling the difference wouldn’t be possible. I feel that I was a lot to separate the two and enjoy this now three year old short. If you love “UnREAL” or want to see what it’s all about without having to binge an entire season, or simply want to learn all there is about what came before, then this is required viewing! You most definitely won’t be disappointed.


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