Short of the Week

The Promise

A five year old promise between friends leads them to explore the darker sides of their personality

Exploring how far people will go to ensure they don’t break an oath, Sam Molleur’s dark comedy The Promise takes one friend on an extreme path of motivation to help another out of his current rut. Speaking to me over email, Molleur revealed how the concept of his film was inspired by the idea of “how some friends would playfully wish for a kind of death-by-murder clause as motivation to change their life for the better.”

Whilst the premise for Molleur’s film might seem a simple one, it demands perfect execution and leaves any shortcomings the film might have with nowhere to hide. With crisp, clean cinematography and snappy, precise editing the crew behind The Promise certainly deliver on production values, but it’s in the dialogue and performances where this short really excels. With lead actors Curt Neill and Elisha Yaffe also involved in writing the script, I was eager to find out from Molleur what the writing process was like and whether there was any improvisation on set:

“The writing process was pretty simple.  I wrote the first draft, and then a subsequent one after the three of us did further improvising and revisions. During the shoot, it was a mixed bag. Some sequences of dialogue were from the script, others were much more improvised. That’s definitely what I prefer – it makes the shoots more dynamic and fun and what’s captured are much more natural, realistic line deliveries. I don’t care much for the need to have anything more than the characters and a couple cameras. The focus was always on making sure the performances carried the story about a very unusual conversation based off a very relatable idea. And especially, if the guys were funny enough, hopefully it would distract from the fact that I suck at visual effects.”

Proving once again that simplicity can be key in making a successful short, Molleur’s comedy The Promise shows exactly what filmmakers can achieve with a minimal budget, some spirited acting and a solid script. With an abundance of films in the field, comedy is arguably the most hit and miss genre in the world of short film – so when a film like The Promise comes along and gets it so right, you really need to take a minute (or seven) to revel in its excellence.

Editor on Short of the Week | Cohabiter on Directors Notes | Communicator at @kung_fuelvis
  • Andrew S Allen

    Fantastic ad-lib dialogue. Both actors are very good. I’d love to see this turned into a series!

  • David J. Phifer

    Quite brilliant with the improving, and hilarious. These actors are great, so natural, great facial expressions.

  • Himmel

    Curious what camera they used to film this short. nice work!

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  • connor

    i am also curious as to which camera was used for filming this short, the quality is really nice.

  • kung_fuelvis

    Just spoke to director Sam Molleur who informed me they “shot on a Canon 7D with a 70-200mm lens and a 60D with a 17-55mm lens”. I have to admit the visuals do look particularly crisp , maybe the encode had a lot to do with this as well?

  • kung_fuelvis

    Connor – see my reply to Himmel for camera details.

  • Short Films | The Gravity Collective

    [...] The Promise, by Sam Molleur. Dark comedy about friendship. I found myself cackling while watching this in bed. Don’t you love it when comedies are actually funny? [...]

  • The Hiccup | Short Film

    [...] at the heart of this story is a tale of friendship and dedication. As in fellow black comedy The Promise, which we featured on the site in March, Smukler’s short is also interested in exploring how [...]

  • Valerie Bass

    And this is how its done lady and gents! OMG I am in love with this short and would LOVE to see these 2 pull off a series! The acting was BRILLIANT. The production value was top notch. This is what it’s all about people! Great work!

  • Valerie Bass

    And this is how its done lady and gents! OMG I am in love with this short and would LOVE to see these 2 pull off a series! The acting was BRILLIANT. The production value was top notch. This is what it’s all about people! Great work!

  • Week 7 HW Journal: Characters, Scenes and Storyboards | Awkward Alliteration

    [...] Misdirection: The Promise 5:21, a story of friendship, two guys argue in a parking lot because according to friend 1, friend 2 made him promise to kill him if he had not done anything with his life by now. the two friends go back and forth about whether or not friend 2 should die in a hilarious conversation. Out of nowhere, a stranger comes up and attacks friend 2, immediately friend 1 kills the stranger and suddenly the two friends realize that a) friend 2 didn’t want to die, and b) friend 1 had to get the act of murdering out of his system somehow. Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like Loading… This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

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  • Matt Jamie

    Great work, lovely performances, nice concept. Tick.