Dust Nuggets is a psychological drama short film directed by Andrew Pochan. This is a film about KK Kolson (Vicki Haller Graff) who is a band manager who takes you on a one-take introduction of her band and staff of a bar where they are about to play, but you get the feeling that there is more going on than meets the eye.
Before I get into reviewing this film, I would like to thank the film’s producer and writer Sue Lange for getting in touch to ask me to review this film, I am always willing to support any and all film productions small or large, any chance to promote and give well wishes to budding filmmakers everywhere. With that being said, let’s get into the review.
It is interesting when a film can operate on a surface and underwater level, it shows that the concept of Dust Nuggets is packed with willingness and preparation. I often find with a shorter run time; a film had a shorter window of opportunity to grab its audience’s attention. While I can say with confidence that Dust Nuggets is captivating on the surface, the thought of even trying to find a hidden meaning or story beneath what is being presented is minimal.
Right away, Dust Nuggets has an intriguing and challenging style. The film is done entirely in one take and to add to the difficulty, the rhyming dialogue is synchronized with the music. This is going to throw some people off, to begin with, but patience in the film’s direction will be rewarded as the pieces start to fall in place. What I like about how Dust Nuggets essentially experiments with its dialogue is that you instantly know that the people behind the film are trying to be courageous which is something to admire, for the films itself I think the dialogue in time with the music is done exceptionally well for the angle the film wants to take.
Once you are settled in for a film like Dust Nuggets, you start to feel oddly charmed by the energy and pacing of the one take shot. Characters are addressing you personally with the intention of making the audience feel comfortable in its observer role. Another comforting part of the film is the hyper-energetic performance from Vicki Haller Graff. Her overexaggerated movements and expressions are inviting and at that right level of expressiveness to avoid being creepy or off-putting.
Whilst watching Dust Nuggets I could feel my filmmaker side starting to kick in, unfortunately, it was the side that looks for detail and there are one or two times in Dust Nuggets that are obvious mistakes, the first being the underbalanced dubbing and foley sounds. There’s a game I like to play with most films I watch, I close my eyes and try to paint a picture of the location of the film just by the sounds alone (ignoring dialogue obviously), making sure to get every detail. The result of Dust Nuggets was, unfortunately, a half painted picture. Furthermore, I could clearly tell where the use of ADR didn’t sync up with the images or movements. There were two incidents where this stood out the most, the first being the introduction of Olsen (Chris Heslop) in which words “Olsen’s very quiet…” aren’t spoken by KK. The second being the same soundbite of Molson (Andrew Pochan) saying “on my way” used repeatedly.
The first transition from a bedroom to the bar is done with a fade to white enticing a dream-like state, however near towards the end of the film, the transition from bar to bedroom looks as though it is following the same foot as the camera’s focus starts to blur the frame, but then we jump cut to the bedroom. This abrupt ending to the one take scene affects our understanding of just how deep the film is willing to dive into its dreamy state.
Overall, Dust Nuggets is ambitious by nature. It gives the impression that the filmmakers behind this have clear intentions to show off what they can do with the medium of film, it mostly the technical faults that drag this film down, but these are easy fixes for the future. You can see from different clues in the narrative that Dust Nuggets is more complex when glancing at it more, whether that deeper, complexity has reached the audience is for perspective to decide. For the whole six minutes, I gave this film complete intrigue which was handsomely rewarded by an equally intriguing narrative structure and dialogue usage, for such a small window of time, that’s very commendable.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Message from the filmmakers: “We are going into production on a feature-length Dust Nuggets in June and hope to have a premiere of the film early next year”
Dust Nuggets is available to watch on YouTube