Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s we’re taking a weekly look at some of some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Kevin Byrnes’ technophobic documentary harvest.
The Plot: An omnipotent entity narrates a week in the the life of an average woman.
With films and shows like of The Ring, Ex Machina and Black Mirror in the mix, there’s been no shortage of technophobic thrillers coming out of Hollywood over the years. While those films tend to paint unsettling pictures of bleak futures to come, few have hit with the emotional or intellectual immediacy of Kevin Byrnes’ new documentary harvest.
Unfolding over a seven day period, the film follows an average American woman through the seemingly mundane tasks of her day-to-day life. Those tasks are underscored by a narrator who may know more about that life than he should. While much of harvest‘s narration gleans modest insight from that minutia, the tone of each observation shifts as the film progresses. With each shift, that running commentary takes on a sinister tone. And with every passing word, harvest spirals into an unnerving look at one seriously disturbing business practice.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll have a fair idea who/what the culprit is in harvest. You’ll probably figure out what’s being harvested as well. But even as Byrnes drops subtle clues along the way (i.e. geographical coordinates) he takes his time in fully exposing the vessel. As a result, harvest unfurls like a puzzle. One that begs to be examined more than it does to be solved.
That examination draws on the incisive scripting of Patrick Mulvey and Andrew Scott-Ramsey – not to mention Mulvey’s stark, deadpan narration – to help fit harvest‘s pieces together. It uses the crisp imagery and astute cutting of Cinematographer/Editor James Christensen to draw you into harvest‘s captivating but deeply paranoid landscapes. And it builds that paranoia to a boiling-point with Joel Pickard’s cagey, electronic score.
Along the way, Byrnes & Co. twist their austere drama about everyday life into an arresting techno-thriller with a dire warning. But harvest never quite feels preachy with its message. Even when it hammers that message home in the haunting repetition of the film’s final line of narration. That line is as barbed as it is brief. It punctuates a documentary that unsettles in ways those Hollywood flicks can only aspire to. And it’s certain to make a few new technophobes in the process.
Meet The Crew:
Produced & Directed by: Kevin Byrnes Written by: Patrick Mulvey and Andrew Scott-Ramsey Narrated by: Patrick Mulvey Director of Photography: James Christensen Edited by: James Christensen Original Music by: Joel Pickard
We hope you enjoy harvest! And we hope you’re as excited as we are to see what Kevin Byrnes does next. It’s a safe bet that harvest‘s 2017 festival run – with screenings at hotdocs and Bam Cinema Fest – has garnered Byrnes a fair amount of attention. With any luck, it’ll be enough to get people talking about a feature project for the director. We can’t help but think that the concept of harvest is ripe for a feature treatment (i.e. what would this same story look like over a full year?). While we’re waiting to see what Byrnes does next, you can find out a little bit more about harvest at the film’s official site.
Before you head that way, be sure to check out some of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – team Vimeo has curated for your viewing pleasure (via desktop ormobile device … SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting, and you may just stumble across your new favorite filmmaker.