Review by Sarah Spohn
Mid-Michigan film production company Vigilant Entertainment’s latest short film clocks in at just 13 minutes, but packs a powerful punch of ranging emotions in that time. Written and produced by Jeff Kapp, Shane Schanski, and Patrick Harney, “Ever After” came together pretty quickly too. Directorof Cinematography, Kapp, wrote the 12-page short in a matter of minutes: just six.
Inspired by recalling his own emotions on becoming a father for the first time, feeling overwhelmed, excited and terrified, Kapp penned the script for the film one evening.
The dimly-lit short was shot in Meridian Township at Nancy Moore Park, after dark. The film focuses on Jacob (played by Mason Heidger) who is about to enter fatherhood. He reminisces on his past failed relationship, trying to mend broken fences and failed attempts, before he can move on with his future.
Heidger’s portrayal of leading man Jacob is an emotional performance, which rings genuine. He takes audiences on a vulnerable ride of insecurities, fears, regrets, and admitting failure. Feeling trapped in an hourglass, with each moment dragging on for what feels like a year, Jacob has plenty of time to drudge up the past, and analyze what went wrong. He admits nothing feels right anymore.
The nighttime setting of a secluded park bench after dark sets the mood for a no-frills delivery of what it’s like to be a human: scared, vulnerable and often feeling alone. Half-way through the short, Jacob’s “I miss you” line absolutely cuts like a knife. It’s a feeling all humans know, all too well. Whether it’s missing a former significant other, missing a version of yourself, missing the feeling that things mattered, or the feeling that you had things figured out — we’ve all felt that loss in one shape or another.
The only light-in-the-dark comes from Jacob’s former significant other (played by Callie Bussell). Despite his heartbreak, sorrow, and tears tinged with regret, she remains upbeat and optimistic he can move on and come out on the other end. “But that’s life, Jake. We go through pain and heartbreak, so we can grow from it,” she says.
Jacob’s quiet emotional scenes mirror humanity’s journey of life’s ups and downs. Here he is — on the verge of creating new life, and yet he remains stuck in moments and memories that simply cannot be re-lived, no matter how much he wishes for a re-do.
The quiet chirping of crickets and sounds of nature coming from the empty, dark park certainly won’t be the only buzz this short gets. The film is already doing well in the festival circuit: nominated for “Best Acting Duo” at LA International Film Festival, a Semi-Finalist at Los Angeles CineFest, and an Official Selection at Wolf Tree Film Festival.
Chances are, you won’t be letting go of the emotions or lessons from “Ever After” anytime soon. The short’s message will likely sit with viewers for a while. The film’s universal lessons on life, love, loss, regret, and moving on will always ring true — ever after.
Don’t trust us? Take a gander for yourself!