Short films have a history of being the perfect proofs of concepts for their future feature length counterparts. I also think it is a fantastic way for filmmakers to hone their craft, perfecting pacing, storytelling and mood before taking the plunge on a financially draining bad idea.
Ben Harl’s “Stakeout” has hints of both the former and the latter, showing a growth in skill as well as performing an exercise that proves its viability as a larger idea.
Stakeout starts with a common enough scene; two officers watching a residence; the namesake of the short. Screams of distress cut their wait short as they enter a situation that they are undoubtedly unprepared for.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Harl’s new effort is that he’s no stranger to the mechanics of filmmaking. Every shot here feels purposeful and the look of the short itself is the kind of atmospheric tone that elevates it from a loot of its peers. The short itself escalates quickly, a push forward easily managed from its leads Noah Williams and Katie Schooley (Forgotten Family, Play With Me, The True Tale of Ole Splitfoot vs. The Lesbian Warrior Nuns of the Great White North). Stakeout represents 3 minutes of your time you can easily settle into and although you might find yourself immediately inching to the edge of your seat. RECOMMENDED.