Student Art: Family, heroin and choices in “Sacrifices”

Last winter, freshmen film students Spencer Mirabal and Jake Rapp began working on a short film entitled “Sacrifices.” The film follows a heroin addict whose sister is held hostage to extort him. The musical score is not bad, but the airy piano is not suitable for the content of the film. There are also a few minor holes in the plot, but the positive aspects of the film outweigh the letdowns.

Props to the props — they are believable and well-situated. The lighting is creative, and in many places aptly suits the mood. The cinematography is possibly the strongest aspect of the film, lending a professional feel. In many places the dialogue borders on melodrama, but good acting saves it. Most notable are Luke Wheeler’s performances as both Sydney and Charlie, the main character and his twin brother. Overall the film is very ambitious, and with a little more polishing this team will create great future work.

Exponent: Did you consider other outcomes for the script?

Spencer: When I was taking Jake’s story and turning it into the screenplay, I had never before written a screenplay. So, a lot of the dialogue was different — [originally] Sydney was the one who came up with the plan to stand in and take the fall for Charlie. He had a line that was like, “Look at me! I’m nothing, I’ve done nothing for my family! This is my one shot to do something right!”  At the time, it made sense, but when we took winter break to step away from it then come back, it made the character almost too strong. He’s inherently weak, he’s not the hero, and we needed to show that more.

E: What was the intent for Charlie and Sydney’s relationship?

(Warning, spoiler)
Jake: The idea was that throughout the film, you didn’t know they were brothers. They would seem like two psychological halves of the same person. Then, you get to the end, and you make the realization and everything starts to make sense.

S: The first cut of the film has a lot more jumping around in the beginning to flashbacks.

J: There was a lot of going back and trying to figure out how to piece it together better, since we couldn’t go back and re-film. It had been too long since the shoot in February. But I think it came together in the end. Luke Wheeler (the actor for Sydney and Charlie) really brought the two characters to life.

S: He had never acted before, but the more I worked with him and the more time we spent shooting the scenes, he really started getting into it. He would do little things to differentiate the two.

E: Why is the eye included in the beginning and end?

J: It felt like a complete story. Usually, a film ends with a wider shot. With the beginning of our film as well as the end, we had more close-up shots, while in the middle, we had a lot more wide shots. I wanted to give the audience some closure, even if the end result was a bit messy plot-wise. We wanted to have them want to watch it again.

To find the film on youtube, search COREfilms2012 (no spaces) and click “Sacrifices” or click here.