Short film writer/director Mark Battle has amassed a solid roster of award-winning projects, including Victim (Best Regional Film, SNOB Film Festival), The Janitor (Best Thriller, SNOB Film Festival), and The Convict (Best Short Drama, SNOB Film Festival). All of Battle’s films are under the banner of Sweven Films, a New England-based production company. His most recent short film, Here Lies Joe, co-written with his good friend Pamela Conway, is in the same master class as his previous efforts.
Here Lies Joe is a story about former English teacher Joe Barnes who is struggling with severe depression. He meets Z, a beautiful, young woman at a suicides anonymous meeting. The taciturn Barnes and anarchic Z bond over their mutual desire to shuffle off this mortal coil — but will their budding friendship be enough for both to consider second chances?
The film is stunningly well-shot with sepia tones drenching each frame. And Battle’s dynamic cinematography – with angles, patterns, and contrasting shapes filling the frame – gives you the feeling you’re thumbing through a graphic novel.
Dean Temple, a ruggedly handsome actor with graying hairs in his tousled mane and scraggy beard, plays Joe. At the opening of the film, we meet Joe as he duct tapes a Shop-Vac hose from his car’s passenger-side window to his tailpipe. Temple perfectly embodies the character of Joe — depressed, apathetic, and lost. The beautiful Andi Morrow, clearly a star on the rise, plays Z. When Z storms the suicides anonymous meeting, dressed like a Bohemian punk, you might be quick to write her off as a just another quirky millennial, but Morrow imbues Z with a depth that makes her genuine, raw, and wise beyond her years.
Like Shawn Christensen’s Oscar-winning short film, Curfew, which deals with similar subject matter, writers Battle and Conway inject humor and humanity into the darkness. I was so invested in the story, I wished I learned more about the characters. But, like Curfew, Here Lies Joe leaves you with the feeling that everything will be okay, and confident that Sweven Films will have a bright future.
Originally posted January 2016