Launched by “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, Powderkeg: Fuse is a talent incubator program that highlights emerging female film directors. Omeleto is proud to share its diverse slate of shorts for this year — as part of its inaugural Fuse Directing Program — which is inspired by the vibrant communities of Los Angeles and united by a comedic sensibility that can range from bawdy to caustic to offbeat, but is always emotionally grounded.
Freckle is a dog walker who has to return a shih tzu to an office across town in West Hollywood. But with no car and no account anymore on Uber, they enlist the help of DeMorge, an artist moonlighting as a psychic.
When they arrive and Freckle drops off the dog, they discover an audition in progress that could be the ticket to opportunity, stardom and the good life. But Freckle soon discovers that becoming a star isn’t as straightforward as the movies make it out to be.
Writer-director Lizzy Sanford’s short drama is an offbeat, deadpan take on the classic Hollywood narrative trope of a star being born or discovered. Hollywood is littered with mythic tales of starlets being discovered at ice cream shops, and with the power of these stories, countless souls are drawn to Los Angeles, hoping to become part of it all. Freckle is one of these people, though walking dogs seems to be walking them farther and farther away from their desired destination. They carry themselves with flamboyant confidence and panache, though they have moments of doubt.
The story covers a unique milieu of Hollywood eccentricity, where oddball characters with colorful pasts and whimsical fixations flourish, even when hidden away in the hills that frame the city of dreams. This terrain has been effectively mined by filmmakers like David Lynch, but instead of Lynch’s trademark horrific surrealism, this short has an affectionate comedic take instead.
The visuals luxuriate in these flourishes of creativity and individuality, often framing Freckle in all their fabulousness against the beautiful but homogenous city background of ramshackle trails and anonymous office buildings. The people who work in these buildings are drone-like and self-absorbed, but their indifference gives Freckle a chance to sneak in when they spot an opportunity of a lifetime.
The audition — and this film — is a showcase for performer Jason Greene, who is also known as Internet personality Freckle. Much of the understated humor in the short comes from Greene’s deadpan one-liners and reactions, as Freckle processes whatever obstacle in front of them and then dismisses it with a casual nonchalance. Nothing stops Freckle — not the lack of Uber, or the annoying indifferent assistant, or the uncomprehending director who gets to witness Freckle in all their glory.
“Freckle and the Shih Tzu” ends with a moment of fanciful revelry, and then an insouciance that mirrors its main character, who shrugs it all off and carries on. But within that reverie, Freckle achieves everything they are dreaming of — an opportunity to shine, and for someone to watch it. Stardom is something Freckle grabs for themselves. And for them, it begins in your own mind, not when someone else calls “Action!”