Breaking News (Chandler Landon, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Paula Gomez. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2010.

The breaking news is that this low budget film is worth watching. The director Chandler Landon, cleverly put together this film with a limited budged of $400 and an outrageously minimal raw footage of 7 hours. He spoke to the audience after the viewing of Breaking News at the Santa Barbara international film festival and revealed these surprising details of his film. His movie tells the story of a goal-oriented character who wants to become a powerful and respected man by his peers.

Jerry Blackwell is a newscaster who is struggling with his career and personal life. He consumes alcohol most of the time and curses often. He is not well respected at his work, his significant lover does not answer his phone calls and his landlord is upset that he cannot pay his rent on time. Jerry decides to turn his situation around by making breaking news that he can capture himself and report back to his news station. He proceeds by pressuring an unstable homeless man to attempt a robbery at a liquor store. The homeless man, weaponless and clueless, enters the liquor store pretending to hold a gun and gets shot by the clerk. Jerry being near by, calls his cameraman and films the breaking news. This event makes him popular at his job and he starts to enjoy the life of prestige and recognition he had so desired before. A series of other events keep taking place that will test his ethics over ambition and greed as the movie proceeds.

The beginning of the film starts with obscured shots of the main character. Shots that make the audience want to know who the mystery man in the screen is. The viewer can only see his back and some of his features under extreme close-ups at first. This perhaps reinforces Jerry’s sneaky characteristic and establishes him as the man to watch out for.  The camera work implements lots of various angles and coverage that make viewing the movie very straightforward. The smooth editing also helps to immerse the audience into the world of Jerry without difficulty. Most if not all of the sequences flow very well. The majority of the shots lit outside where lit with natural lighting. A little bit of overexposure is seen on a few of them but that just gives the movie a documentary style that does not fully distract the audience from the world of the movie and the sequence of events that unravel before it.

It is refreshing to see a movie well done with such limited resources. All of the characters in the film were not professional actors but rather real newscasters from the Santa Barbara area. Chandler commented that he even let the actors ad-lib through the scenes and that turned out to be a great idea because the acting in this dialog-driven film was a very important component that was executed well enough. It is a living proof that one man can do a very good job of directing, writing, producing, and editing his own low budget film. Anyone who is starting out as a film maker will enjoy watching this film very much.

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