This review contains spoilers for Josiah!
Brandon, a talented actor auditions for what seems to be another stereotypical role in a period television series. When something unexpected is bought up during the casting session, Brandon realises this role could actually change his life, but at a cost. Kyle Laursen’s short film Josiah looks at the process of the casting room and how race, class and gender can change power dynamics and ideas behind stereotypes.
I often think a film is either good at telling its story through the words spoken, or by what we see. No offence to one or the other, I just feel that films sometimes do better at one. However, I love how this short film takes into account both of these by giving us a real, yet odd and futuristic style feel with the film made up of just 2 cuts, and a dialogue that fills the room the characters are in with tension and confusion. Having this film made up of one-takes made me feel as uncomfortable as the people in it and added fantastic emotion and feeling behind the pauses. To then pair this with dialogue that feels realistic, even adlibbed, puts us each on the casting couch watching this awkward audition, and stood on the X feeling alone and uncomfortable with eyes gawking.
We begin with a happy song that we think is setting the scene for a funny film and then jump into the action, feeling awkward for the characters and how big their personalities are. It sets itself up to be something that could look at stereotypes in an over the top and comedic way, but then we are taken from a warm, light place, into a cold, open room where it seems there are no boundaries or feelings taken into consideration. Writer, director and producer of Josiah, Kyle Laursen, really shows us how even with action and protests, things can still feel unmoving and stuck in the dark ages. We all have opinions and feelings, but it can often feel like we’re not being listened to, or even have a say. Especially in what is meant to be a professional setting, people may not be sure if they’re loved or hated, feel bullied, or just have to laugh the whole thing off without trying to overthink everything that has just happened. Most things on our screens are filled with stereotypes which get to us, even ruining our experience of what we’re seeing, and even with more understanding from people, it still happens and will continue happening. I think it is a conversation that will forever take place until people listen to the people it may directly affect. Anger, power, truth, it can all feel aggressive, or may seem too sensitive, but in these times, as relevant as ever, this film shows us how we shouldn’t just accept what we hear on TV, or what teams may ask actors to do.
The performances in this short were fantastic. Everything felt so real, the script fantastically captured the different personalities in Hollywood, which can range from outspoken to shy. I felt that the actors chosen to play the parts, perfectly reflected certain stereotypes in the film business, and in a way, reflected the viewer and the opinions they can have on how castings can take place.
This short film is a great one to watch if you still don’t think race, class and gender play pivotal parts in how Hollywood puts things together. Like in the script Brandon has been given for his part, you can stand up for what you think is right, even if the oppressor is still trying to put you down.