Short of the Week

The Big Empty

A young woman (Selma Blair) becomes a medical oddity when it is discovered that she is “empty”. She struggles with that emptiness, but can anyone help her?

You knew it was coming—a film from the YouTube Screening Room—well, it’s here, The Big Empty. It’s part of the second round of films from the Screening Room (4 new films every 2 weeks). While most of the attention has been around last year’s Academy Award nominated animation, I Met the Walrus, the real winner here is the The Big Empty—directed by Lisa Chang and Newton Thomas Sigel who was cinematographer on The Usual Suspects, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and an episode of House (Hugh Laurie makes a cameo appearance).

The story follows Alice (Selma Blair), a single woman with a pain deep inside of her that no doctor can diagnose. She seeks out a Specialist who sets off on a surreal expedition inside her and discovers something astounding—she’s completely empty—”A woman with nothing inside her but a cold, hard breeze.” His photos come back showing a vast frozen wasteland (not unlike the rural Alaskan town I grew up in). But rather than search for a cure for her pain, the Specialist takes her to universities around the world gaining accolades for his discovery. No one it seems is willing to help Alice, so it takes her own strong will to shift this story from one of exploitation to self-reliance.

Shot by Sigel himself, The Big Empty seems almost like a playground on which the cinematographer was able to experiment with new techniques. Lighting and color play a large role in defining the film’s somber mood and Alice’s inner pain. Unique POVs put us in strange places. The film is a hefty 21 minutes yet the story progresses at a nice pace and continues to reward you to the end.

If haven’t yet had the chance to check out the YouTube The Screening Room, The Big Empty is the perfect excuse. Thankfully, past films will remain archived online, so you can go back and catch all the previous films as well.


Andrew makes no attempt to hide his love for the magic art of animation. He appreciates compelling visuals but never forgets that in this modern age, a strong story always reigns supreme. You can see his work at or his latest film The Thomas Beale Cipher.
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