Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know that. So do we. That’s why we’ll be taking a weekly look at some of Vimeo’s best and brightest.
The Film: Growing up isn’t easy and short films have long been fertile ground for coming of age tales. Few have ever been more brutal than Spencer Susser’s I Love Sarah Jane. Spinning a heartfelt tale of puppy love smack in the middle of the end of the world, Susser gives young love an apocalyptic edge. Its story focused, its action vicious and its emotions raw, I Love Sarah Jane breathes life into the zombie thriller and the coming of age drama without mimicking them. Upon its release in 2008, the film also launched the careers of several extraordinary talents.
The Plot: Amid the zombie apocalypse, 13-year-old Jimbo can think of only one thing … the lovely Sarah Jane.
Why Press Play?
Actors, directors and cinematographers cut their teeth in the short film world. Sometimes it’s fun to go back and see where it all began. I Love Sarah Jane is a captivating film in its own right. Even more so because of the talent it spawned. Back in 2008, Mia Wasikowska, Spencer Susser, David Michôd and Adam Arkapaw were unknown to American audiences. While Susser (Writer/Director: Hesher – 2010), Michôd (Writer/Director: Animal Kingdom – 2010 & The Rover – 2014) and Arkapaw (DP: True Detective: Season 1 & Macbeth – 2015) have steadily worked their names into cinematic consciousness, Wasikowska catapulted to stardom. Her turn as the titular femme de desire led to a scene stealing role on HBO’s hugely underrated In Treatment (2008). In 2009, Tim Burton came calling from Wonderland and the rest, as they say, is history.
With its tremendous pedigree, I Love Sarah Jane does feel like a little slice of history. At age 18, Wasikowska already displayed powerful screen presence. It’s the actress’ ability to interpret and depict palpable emotional layers that’s a bit startling. Her Sarah Jane spends much of the film staring at increasingly worrisome TV news reports. Working from Susser’s & Michod’s elegantly focused script, Wasikowska ably depicts every thought turning in Sarah Jane’s head and the anger building in her heart. The fiercely intelligent performance brings an unexpected honesty to her brief, heartfelt interactions with Brad Ashby’s Jimbo. And it’s Ashby who anchors I Love Sarah Jane, earnestly casting a look of undying love ever in Sarah Jane’s direction … even in the film’s ruthless final moments. Lensing every bloody act and longing gaze with gritty, stylized realism is DP Adam Arkapaw, whose burgeoning visual palette gives I Love Sarah Jane a surprising weight and adds to its acute sense of immediacy.
Meet The Crew:
Directed by: Spencer Susser Written by: David Michôd & Spencer Susser Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Brad Ashby Director of Photography: Adam Arkapaw
Hope you enjoy I Love Sarah Jane! Wasikowska continues to carve out one of the more interesting careers in Hollywood, but be sure and take note of those other names. While Susser has been quiet on the feature film front since his spectacular (Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring) Hesher, you can catch some of his short films over at his Vimeo page. Michôd, on the other hand, continues to crank out intriguing feature films. He’s currently putting finishing touches on War Machine with star Brad Pitt. That film is slated for a 2016 release. Arkapaw has also built an impressive resume in the ensuing years. His unflinchingly stylized visuals in Macbeth will surely land him in the Best Cinematography conversation at this year’s Oscar ceremony. He’s also got Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between The Oceans set for release next year. If you’re looking for a little indie film cred, look no further than I Love Sarah Jane. After the credits roll, feel free to poke around and watch a few of the thousands of short films – animated and live action – the kind souls at Vimeo have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting and you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.