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30 Second Film Noir (2012)
Tonight's Short Presentation


Starring: T.J. Pederson, Rebecca Holopter, Jennifer Holloway, John Colella, Darby Kennerly, Stephen Cross

Written and Directed By: Verity Butler

See It Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gZ-ZYFJIWw

Production Website: http://www.30films.com

The Story

Jack Hobbs (T.J. Pederson, Entanglements of a Dangerous Mind) is a private eye tasked with catching a killer.  Can he do it in under thirty seconds?

The Rundown

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


That’s all you’ve got time for.

Pairs Well With...


That’s all you’ve got time for.

“Detective… find my husband’s killer.”

Guess what, folks?  They’re not kidding.  The entire film lasts just thirty seconds, credits included.  It’s probably taken you longer to get this far into the review than it would to watch the actual movie.

With that said, a lot more than thirty seconds’ worth of effort went into making 30 Second Film Noir, and that effort is worth some recognition.

First off, Verity Butler’s writing is spot-on.  She’s boiled noir down to its essence, and captures way more of the genre’s most beloved clichés in thirty seconds than would initially seem possible.  The murder, the plea to the private eye from the femme fatale, roughing up an informant, finding the mistress, the concerned secretary worrying about the private eye, the threat, and the final reveal that it takes a few viewings to get straight – it’s all there, and I even skipped a few.  If you love noir like I do, you’re really going to enjoy how this is written.

Indeed, thanks to the necessity of quick jump cut editing, noir fans even get a bonus that shouldn’t be theoretically possible: the dagger-sharp, rapid-fire exchange of dialogue that the very best noir is famous for.  How can this be, when no single scene ever features more than one character saying but a single line?  Because when they’re all edited together, it blends into a continuous, head-spinning conversation.  Neat trick, that.

Ah, but wait – there’s more!

It turns out that Verity Butler is a lady of many talents, because what she didn’t already catch with her pen, she catches from her seat in the director’s chair.  The classic shot of the man in the fedora looking out through the blinds, the close up of the shot glass hitting the floor, the cigarette in the glass ashtray, the black phone, the bare bulb over the table, grabbing the schmoe by the necktie, the wire frame fan, the trenchcoats, the “Hollywoodland” sign – oh yeah; she gets it, and she gets it all in glorious black and white.  What’s more, she’s obviously done her homework, and takes excellent advantage of the monochrome medium and how it plays with light and shadow.

And then, of course, there’s the cast.

You might think that acting wouldn’t be much of an issue in a film that lasts only thirty seconds; if you think that, however, you’re wrong.  Acting is always important, and the only difference when it comes to a thirty second feature is that the actors have sometimes as little as one and a half seconds to make an impression.  Particular standouts here are Rebecca Holopter (People in Motion) as Mrs. Black, our femme fatale, Darby Kennerly (L'espoir) as faithful secretary Trish, and T.J. Pederson as our P.I. hero, Jack Hobbs.  The breathy vocalizations and catwalk poses of Holopter capture the essence of an anything-but-innocent noir dame perfectly.  Kennerly, meanwhile, is all about the facial expressions, whether it’s smiling up at the boss as he comes into the office or looking down at him with worry as he’s dead tired at his desk.  And Pederson… his big winner comes with the smirk he gets when Hobbs puts it all together.  With only seconds to convey what some actors can’t with literally a thousand times more screen time (assuming the two to three seconds many of these people get), this entire cast is golden.

Indeed, in all of 30 Second Film Noir, I could only find one major faux pas, and really, it only stands out so heavily because everything else is done so well.  It’s the click-whirr sound effect used for a camera, which is a few years early for a period when the sound should still be the pop of flashbulb.  A comparatively minor sin, to be sure, but again, the fact that everything else is wonderfully done makes it obvious.

What should also be obvious by now is that 30 Second Film Noir is very much worth checking out.  Everyone can get a kick out of it, but it’s especially cool if you’re a noir fan already.

Bottom line, what are you waiting for?  You’ve spent more time sitting through lousy beer commercials than it’ll take for you to enjoy the little gem that is 30 Second Film Noir.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, April, 2012

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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