Currently touring the film festival circuit is The Rehearsal, a short film by Virginia-based writer and director Trent Welstead. The short, which clocks in at just a hair over six minutes, has done quite well in its film festival tour thus far, taking home numerous awards and nominations, including (but certainly not limited to) an award for “Best Editing” for Welstead at the 2019 Flamingo Film Festival, and a nod for “Best Actor” for star Jackson Tindall at the 2019 ConCarolinas Short Film Festival, just to name a couple.
On the surface, the premise of this film is rather simple, an unnamed actor (Tindall) is gearing up for a part in a new production, and is going over his lines for the role. But, just under the surface is something very dark and sinister… his own inner demons brought on by his anxiety and self doubt. As the rehearsal continues, the young actor struggles more and more with the screaming, nerve-rattling demands of his own inner voice which torments him more and more until finally reaching a breaking point. That’s about all I can say about this one, given that just giving the premise of a film this short is sort of automatically treading on the border of spoiler country, and as you dear readers should well know by now, that’s just not something we do around here.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, some serious praise needs to be handed out to the small, but strong cast and crew involved in this short. Firstly, Jackson Tindall literally puts on a one man show, being the only actor to actually appear on screen, and gives the viewer such a wide range of emotions and such a transparent, brutally honest portrayal of inner strife that it could make even the most jaded of film buffs uncomfortable. Secondly, the camerawork and editing are top-notch, with Welstead alongside director of photography Mark Meardon teaming up to transform what is essentially a dark, one-room set into something that is both atmospheric and visually appealing.
That being said, despite the phenomenal acting performance and the very artistic setting, the film seems to lack any sort of resolution, taking viewers through a suspenseful, tense trip down the rabbit hole, and then simply leaving us there before the credits roll. Perhaps this was intentional, and perhaps this was due to the extremely short runtime, but I can’t help but wonder how much better this film could have been with just a few more minutes of storytelling. Now, of course if my only real criticism is that it simply didn’t last long enough for me, and that I wanted more, I suppose there are far worse problems for any filmmaker to have.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, The Rehearsal is a tense, uncomfortable, and painfully raw look into the fragile mind of a tormented creative type, whose worst critic is, as is usually the case, himself. These are issues so many artists in all mediums deal with all too frequently, and is ultimately something I believe we can all relate to on some level. The acting is absolutely superb, and the scenes and imagery are the literal stuff of nightmares for some of us. Highly recommended, especially for anyone who has ever worked in theater or film. If you happen to catch this on the film festival circuit, do yourself a favor and go spend six minutes on this one. While no plans for any wide release has yet been announced, I for one very much hope this finds a home on some streaming service somewhere, so more people are able to see this. – 9.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine