INDY SHORTS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL -Harry Brandrick’s THE OUT “A Vulnerable Voice to the Voiceless”

THE OUT is a short film inspired by writer/director Harry Brandrick’s firsthand experience of his own fathers drug addiction and how it affected their livelihood. This poignant, personal drama recounts Liam’s (Allan Mustafa; BAFTA winning writer/actor) first day taking care of his young daughter since his release from a penitentiary. 

This short shows Liam’s first 24 hours with his daughter, and his attempt to pick up the pieces of his life shattered by his drug addiction. The film begins with Liam opening a cabinet filled with Methadone, which is a drug used to reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms from heroin use. Allan Mustafa plays Liam as a likeable, steady character that it’s difficult for the audience to believe that this reliable man previously was an addict. The cast is miniscule, with only four characters. The mother of Liam’s child is Jade, who is played by Kimberley Okoye (Holby City) and serves as a reminder of the consequences for his past actions. His daughter is played by Savannah Skinner-Henry, and this young talent has no problem with adapting to the adult themes examined throughout the film. Marcus is a friend and junkie from Liam’s past, played by Jaime Christoferson. The film documents Liam’s struggle to remain clean, and the obstacles he must face in order to get his life back in order. 

THE OUT is writer/director Harry Bradrick’s latest work. Along with several other projects, THE OUT is the third completed short film by Bradwick. Similarly to his other films, Bradrick’s objective is to bring attention to important sociological issues and challenge the audience to question why so many struggle on the fringe of society as outcasts. 

Allan Mustafa is spectacular at portraying this intense complex character, despite being known for his more comedic roles. Mustafa has been recognized by the Royal Television Society Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards for his work and starring role in PEOPLE JUST DO NOTHING where he won Best Scripted Comedy in both categories. He also starred in the short BOSSMAN, which was selected for the Colchester and Thunderdance Film Festivals. In 2014, he was named one of Broadcast Magazines ‘Hotshots’. In 2020 he starred in the Netflix film Love Wedding Repeat, which received positive reviews from fans and critics. 

Recognition should also be paid to the stellar cinematography for this short provided by Kia Fern Little. Who chose unique camera angles throughout the film. The camera work plays on interesting close up scenes during intense emotional moments in order to gauge the full scope of the talented actors’ abilities, while also knowing instinctively when to pan back and frame low. A cinematographic scene that stands out is when Little choses to show Sophia and Liam’s feet walking up to the shattered glass outside of the apartment instead of focusing on destruction within the room. This attention to detail allowed the audience to partake in the characters’ experiences firsthand, and greatly benefitted the film overall. The subtle nuance to the camera work blends perfectly complimenting the storytelling and acting within the film. 

THE OUT addresses important issues, but is also a beautifully crafted film that allows you to see the world from a different lens. There is stunning juxtaposition in a scene where Sophia and Marcus are sitting on the couch, and Liam is faced with his shadowy past encapsulated in Marcus and the possibility of a promising future and reconciliation with his brightly bubbly daughter. Foreshadowing is used when Marcus is seen peering through Liam’s windows like a criminal, but also a ghost from his past that comes knocking on his door. Much like his drug habit, Marcus is something Liam hoped to leave behind. 

The climax of the film shows Liam confronting Marcus after the junkie breaks into his house and steals valuables in order to fuel his addiction when Liam refuses to lend him money. Marcus appears to be a personification of Liam’s addiction and in a very understated scene, rather running from his past or trying to destroy it, he chooses to face it head on. Once he gets his daughter’s beloved toy back he chooses not to respond with anger, but tells his stoned friend to call him tomorrow so they can talk and “sort things out”. This implies a level of understanding, rather than contempt of the man who is struggling with his own demons. 

Brandwick hopes that this short film can take his personal life and experience  “as a vehicle to explore or comment on wider societal issues.” This film is simple in its synopsis and objective to shine a light on the minority of people who struggle to overcome addiction, and allows the audience a glimpse into this rarely examined perspective of an ex junkie and convict who is also a father struggling to sort out his life. THE OUT attempts to show us a different point of view and achieves that goal. This is a film for people who want to see the world from a new outlook, and find a way to demonstrate empathy and compassion to those who need it most.

Follow the director’s work here

Keya Rivera

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