While it’s true that the main thrust of my spotlights has been to help expose underrated material, there’s no denying that everything I’ve written about (so far) lies firmly in general public knowledge. Along with the much-loved classics I like to unearth, I’ve also wanted to bring brand new and fresh productions to the fore. It’s important for someone with a love of art and expression to keep at least one finger on the pulse, even while juggling the seemingly infinite essentials that legacy recommends. The ever-beating pulse that keeps us steeped in up-to-date media deserves as much attention here, even if it’s tougher to draw blood from it in today’s climate.
HAUS Pictures is one production company who, from their earliest modest beginnings, have never ceased in their dedication to drawing out that creative blood. An extremely talented team of young filmmakers, their work is testament to a quality that’s as inherent as it is evolving. Since I already knew that their output was a beast of great visual zest and mulled thought, I was thrilled when I got to see their recent short Candy Floss (directed by Jed Hart). Upon its conclusion I instantly wanted to bring it into the Secret Cave, nurture its themes under dancing firelight and present what I could of my experience to our visitors.
Opening by a rain-pocked telephone box, with a shot worthy of a Blade Runner sequel, we meet Jasmine (Grace Hogg-Robinson). A young girl of somehow indiscernible age, she’s introduced – through my eyes at least – as someone with fear in equal parts to her excitement. Perhaps led by this dichotomy, perhaps not, Jasmine makes the decision to leave home with apparently no clear plan ahead of her. Indeed, how many times did our own teenage equivalents have unfulfilled dreams of doing the same?
Shane (Barry Keoghan) seems to live a parallel existence of sorts, gifted with similar youth but without the shackles of meek inexperience. A showman with a travelling fairground, Shane is all too used to life’s rougher edge. When he and Jasmine meet, quickly forming a bond, their commonalities synchronise and encourage one another. Where that will take them is the only remaining question, and something best left answered by the narrative itself. The sense of tumbling danger along their path, however, is one I think necessary to convey.
The short’s brevity is betrayed by its depth. Each shot is gorgeous in its composition, occasionally breathtaking and often at a comfortable level of excellent. Backed up by natural performances from its principle pair, the characters are as believable as they are symbolic. The simple concept of its story isn’t something that lets it down either, instead managing to leave necessary space for contemplation. To have that space glittered so lovingly with appropriate music throughout only made the whole thing more coherent too. In the end, it filled its time to the maximum without stuffing it full of overwrought detritus.
Nominated for the Short Film Award at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, I’d love nothing more than to see this get the attention it’s earned. Having already had screenings at Raindance and Encounters, as well as being selected for the London Short Film Festival, it seems well on its way. Passion and talent are as obvious across its frames as the knowledge and skill that brought it to the screen, and that’s what we should all be demanding from our art. As consumers and fans, we have a duty and responsibility to champion works like this wherever we can. I understand how militaristic that sounds but I think you understand my meaning. An engaging short of rich promise, Candy Floss may even become a solid stepping stone to the bigger things HAUS Pictures are capable of.
The entirety of Candy Floss is now available in full as a Vimeo staff pick here!