Movies need rules. It’s a simple sentiment worked to nail-biting short form perfection in the latest film from internet darling, Ryan Connolly. PROXiMITY is an action film through and through, and as such, I won’t make excuses for it. This is a short born entirely out of its high concept. It’s not filled with nuanced characters nor does the story journey beyond the rigid confines of what is necessary for the plot. Yet, it’s damn enjoyable—a brutal little action/sci-fi flick tailor-made for the YouTube generation.
Working this time with co-writer Seth Worley, PROXiMITY fills a certain niche that has been rising quickly in the sub-genre that is internet shorts. Like the Red Giant action shorts to come before it, this film plays out like an excellent bite-size Twilight Zone episode filled with all the prerequisite twists and turns that such a comparison would indicate. Moreover, it’s about a simple rule that makes for some truly creative action beats. Our lead character can’t stray too far from the matching ankle bomb attached to the person next to him. And, in turn, he’s forced to constantly stay close, even if that other person doesn’t like it very much. There’s a tremendous amount of tension inherently stemming from that premise and Connolly really roots the marrow of the idea.
At Short of the Week, we are constantly talking about the “new path to Hollywood,” a way to use short filmmaking as a tool to get noticed by tinsel town. Connolly is the poster-boy for such an idea. Since Film Riot’s inception, he has transformed the show from a few kids in Florida messing around with visual effects to a formidable creative war machine. And, all the while, he has done it on his terms with us watching. That’s right—transparency is the new normal. Don’t hide your film behind vimeo passwords or keep the lid on your filmmaking tricks. Rather, share it with the world. Show us, teach us, and inherently, we will follow (and rack up the page views). While I could go on and on about how the creation and success of a film like PROXiMITY is intrinsically linked to modern internet-driven cultural schema, to be brief, Connolly feels like one of us—a chip off the ole’ do-it-yourself filmmaker’s block. His creative endeavors are so clearly documented to the world, and by effect, his success feels like ours. We know that guy—he’s not some aloof, unreachable Hollywood shill. He’s just the dude we’ve been geeking out with about filmmaking for the last few years.
We’ve featured work from Connolly before, and with PROXiMITY it’s clear to see his progression as a filmmaker. Tighter and more rigorously paced then Tell, it’s a deftly constructed piece of work. It was also put together very quickly after a much larger short project, Outsiders, was put on hold due to financing issues. Now the question is this: when and how does Connolly transfer from internet phenom to industry regular (like Dan Trachtenberg before him)? While I can’t provide an answer, I do know this: I guarantee you Connolly will be sure to document all that is about to happen to him and share it with the world. After all, the internet wouldn’t have it any other way.