David: Hello and Welcome to DoubleFeaturePreachers.com! For all new readers, welcome! For those returning, thank you for your continued support. Today’s movie is Lookouts, directed by David Bousquet and produced by his wife Kristin Bousquet. The story is based off a Penny Arcade Comic of the same name. Thank you to Ginger Liu from Ginger Media & Entertainment for reaching out about this film! And, a final note: this is showing at the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) on 12 NOV 2016 at 9:05p as part of the “Fantasy Shorts” at the Tivoli Theatre. Check it out if you can!
A bit of background, perhaps, before we dive into the story. The comic was originally a “one shot”, with only six panels telling a small story. Due to its popularity, the comic was expanded into several more, developing some of the mythology. However, this short is based upon the original comic panels. It tells the story of a man training some young boys in the woods to “lookouts” to defend against the basilisk.
Shannon, my initial impressions were very positive regarding lookouts. I’ll go into more depth about this statement later, but it is absolutely beautiful. What were your initial thoughts?
Shannon: My initial thoughts were that there was a ton of stuff going on for just a short film and I’d hoped that it had been a little longer. Aside from that, I thought the film itself was (your word is perfect) beautiful. The shots and the special effects were great and kept me intrigued through this short film. I had no idea that this was based off a comic, you always know more movie facts that I do! I also thought the basilisk was pretty cool looking! What are your thoughts on the story itself?
Also, I have a question you may be able to answer: does this happen in the past, present, or future? Because it seemed like it was taking place long ago, but then the clothes that they had on made me think it could be happening in the near apocalyptic future.
David: Shannon, I’m glad you think I know movie facts. Really I’m just a good regurgitator of useless information. As far as the timeline, I’m not sure. It has the feel of an ancient Greek or Roman tale, but wouldn’t be out of place beside some of Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories.
I think the most beautiful thing about this film is the cinematography. The use of different effects, different speeds, and probably different cameras is astounding. There’s so much going on, and one of the most beautiful shots in the film is when there is debris flying in the face of The Ranger (played by Chris Cleveland). There is so much attention to detail and commitment to the performance by Cleveland that it really sells the realism of everything.
For me, the cinematography was the champ in selling that realism. The short is brief, but it has the look of a big budget feature film that you would see at Wehrenberg or AMC. That’s something I look forward to talking to David about at the festival - how he transported us into this world he has created. The effects help with that too. There’s a beautiful array of fog, coupled with lighting and shadows that lead you to feel like you are truly there. There were also some good practical effects. Shannon, you mentioned the creature itself. What was your take on it? I know the Basilisk is something that was featured in Harry Potter, but it was presented as more serpent-like. Did you like this different take upon it?
Shannon: I totally agree with you about the cinematography having a big budget film feel. That’s what I was thinking majority of the time as I was watching it. I also was thinking that (if it wasn’t for having a plot) it felt like a long trailer for a movie that is going to be release to theaters soon. Just amazing.
I thought the creature itself was pretty awesome looking. My first thought was that it was a really huge rooster (okay it really was “turkey” and then you made me realize I was thinking of the wrong bird). I think it’s great that the monster terrorizing their village (not that I want a monster terrorizing a village and the young boys to be the warriors) was bird-like. So many monsters these days are all the same - we went through a movie spell where I thought all the monsters looked like squids. Which Harry Potter movie is this creature in? I don’t remember a giant rooster that could turn people to stone. Nevertheless, it’s pretty awesome.
David: I agree. I consistently state on this blog that practical effects are the way to go in order to make a convincing effect. Whoever crafted that puppet (I’m assuming, based on the way it moved) took great care in the crafting, and the puppeteer themself should be very proud of the way it turned out. Jim Henson himself would have been proud of the work that was done. It made me think of the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal. There were some sporadic CG effects scattered throughout, most notably in the final shots, but they were well-done as well.
There is quite a bit of understated acting, despite there really being only three characters - Pehn (the boy), The Ranger, and Pehn’s mother. What did you think of the acting performances throughout? Anyone that impressed you the most?
P.s. It was the second Harry Potter, The Chamber of Secrets.
Shannon: I guess the actor that played Pehn is the one that impressed me the most. For such a big role in a short film he was able to fully express the transformation that the character is supposed to go through. From a scared little boy wondering if he’s going to have to face the monster one day to a more brave little boy that’s willing to vanquish the basilisk for his family and village in which he lives. Though I believe that the actors who played The Ranger and Pehn’s mother did a good job as well, I wouldn’t say they impacted the film a whole lot - at least in my perspective.
One thing I liked about this film is the way they built up the history of the basilisk and the forest itself. How the boy keeps asking “What is the basilisk” and the flashbacks that slowly answer the question for the audience. As for the forest, the glowing red flowers stemming from the stones (a.k.a men that have tried to kill the monster) were really interesting to me. It’s so Beauty and the Beast (ya know, the glowing red flower part) and it’s fantastic.
David, I’m not really sure what else we can touch on about this film. Is there anything else you want to touch on before we wrap it up?
David: I liked Pehn as well. He really did a good job, as you said, at portraying that transformation. So many Oscar contenders (there’s the big word!) feature some type of transformative performance by an actor, and I was really impressed with Kelton Roney, the boy who played Pehn. I would also like to highlight Cleveland as the Ranger, because I think that is a tough role to own in such a small run time. If given the chance, I’m sure the actors would perform even more in a full length feature.
I agree. That’s something I don’t know if it would play well in a feature that was longer - but here, it works perfectly. That’s really the final thing I want to talk about - the possibility of this turning into a full-length feature. I sure hope someone goes for this, because according to the site, David and Kristin financed this entire project themselves. I would be excited to see this made into more, most especially if they led the project as director and producer once more. The market is full of young adult action/dramas, but rarely do they feel to have as much heart as this one does with a fraction of the running time. Would you see a Lookouts full-length feature Shannon?
Shannon: Yep, that would be a great movie to see in the movie theater so I sure hope so! I think a longer script and film altogether would make this even that much better. I’m giving it a “Liked It” rating. What say you David?
David: I’m going to give it a “B+”. Hoping to see more. Thanks for joining us, and thanks for the submission. Don’t forget to see Lookouts at SLIFF Saturday night!
David and Shannon write about movies.