Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Jeremy Robbins’ post-apocalyptic coming of age tale, Aftermath.
The Plot: Two brothers search for a new home in an icy wasteland.
The Film: Some movies feel right at home in the short form world. Some just feel bigger. Welcome to the great big world of Aftemath.
Why Press Play?
Let’s face it, these days the end feels a little closer than ever before. It’s only natural that the apocalypse should bleed into popular culture. The past decade or so has seen a major spike in end of days stories. Maybe a little too big. There’s only so much apocalypse to go around before things get redundant. For every The Road (2009) or Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), we’ve gotten a Z For Zachariah (2015) or Doomsday (2008). But it’s not difficult to distinguish what separates a good post-apocalyptic film from a bad one. Some focus on spectacle. Some focus on character. The best find an intriguing middle ground. And no, it isn’t easy to tell a small story in a big way. You wouldn’t know that from watching Aftermath.
Written & Directed by Jeremy Robbins with stoic grace, Aftermath takes place in a world not too far from our own. A world where survival is no guarantee. Nor is a hot meal. Or a warm place to sleep. Hell, in Robbins’ fictional realm you’re lucky if a pack of strangers doesn’t stumble on you in the middle of the night and gun you down in cold blood. The only real option in the world of Aftermath is to shoot first and not ask any questions. It’s hard enough to take care of yourself. Now imagine you’ve got a snotty kid brother to look after. At it’s core, Aftermath is an intimate study of brotherly dynamics in an indifferent world.
For anyone who’s ever had a bratty younger brother – or been one – just try to imagine getting along with your sibling in that cruelest of environments. That’s the dynamic that drives the small scale feel of Robbins’ film. Actors Will Rogers (the other American hostage in last year’s Bridge Of Spies) and Noah Robbins (the director’s real life kid brother) bring a palpable authenticity to that dynamic. Throughout Aftermath, all of the carousing and bickering and petty jealousy and muted envy between the pair feels like it’s been there since kid brother’s birth. Much of that tension exists in silence. That you can feel it with every frosty breathy and steely glance is a testament both to Robbins’ writing and the performances. Those performances are the reason its so easy to invest yourself in Robbins film.
And you will be invested. Framing his story on the bedrock of intimacy, Robbins expands the scope of Aftermath by building a genuine sense of danger into the world surround his brothers. Danger in the form of humanity. And danger in the form of an indifferent environment. Shot on location in the frozen wilds of Vermont, that environment is vast and barren and utterly unforgiving. Every frigid inch of it is captured with savage elegance in the wide-angle photography of DP Andrew Ellsworth. Every unyielding moment is enhanced by Caleb Townsend’s whispy sound design and a menacing minimal score from Nathan Halpern. Walking through snow has rarely felt this tense. Or this real. The same can be said for the world Jeremy Robbins has created in Aftermath. So press play and check it out.
Meet The Crew:
Written & Directed by: Jeremy Robbins Starring: Noah Robbins and Will Rogers Director Of Photography: Andrew Ellsworth Music by: Nathan Halpern Edited by: Jeffrey K. Miller Sound Design: Caleb Townsend
I hope you enjoy Aftermath! Jeremy Robbins’ film made a sizable splash on the festival circuit a couple of years ago. With all the accolades and an obvious gift for big-screen aesthetics, the young director seemed primed to make the leap to feature filmmaking. But little has been heard from him since. Let’s hope he’s holed up in a cabin somewhere banging out his next script. And let’s hope he brings the same ‘small in a big way’ approach to that project. Until then, you can check out some of Robbins’ other work over at his Vimeo page. While you’re there, be sure and check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team 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.