You know what it’s like when you’re the new guy on the job. In those early days it feels like you may never fit in and become part of the team. It doesn’t make matters any easier when your colleagues continually draw attention to fact that you’re an unseasoned rookie. But hey, you’ll show them. All you need is a chance to prove yourself, an opportunity to shine and when that opportunity presents itself, little things like fear or a language barrier aren’t gonna stop you from stepping up and acting.
So is the case for lone cop Melvin, caught short in the wrong place at the wrong time in Poet Zero’s short of misunderstanding Cerrado Al Publico. The film is a perfect example of effective striping back to the essentials that so many filmmakers overstep, often to the detriment of the finished product – over stretching both resources and story when less would have certain left an impression of more. Cerrado Al Publico employs a minimum of on screen talent (a single actor, walkie talkie voice and two pairs of feet) until the final reveal and a location that it’s hard to imagine could be any more minimal, yet is perfectly dressed to make the viewer share our protagonist’s disgust – I’m assured that it’s a chocolate syrup and pea soup mixture smeared around the stall.
It was also a relief to see that directors Takashi Doscher and Alex Shofner were able to take Melvin from bumbling, comedic character to tragic ‘if only he hadn’t…’ figure with a twist that didn’t feel like a cheat or easily predicted from the opening credits, but was rather filling in the unexpected blanks for Melvin and the audience alike. As co-directors the pair took a divide and conquer approach to their shared role; Shofner took on set directing with responsibility for all that passed before the lens (actors, props, set, etc.), while Doscher’s cinema director role, tackled behind the camera tasks such as liasing with the crew and ensuring the technical elements stayed sharp.
Perhaps credit should also rest with the process by which the Poet Zero team select their projects; members of the group pitch their ideas, with the group voting on which ones to take forward and then finally roles attributed due to personal interest. Also, it has to be said that the work of David Torcivia (VFX & Grading) and John Merizalde (Editor) go a long way in helping to sell the final moments of this $0 budget, yet effective and entertaining short.