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Short Film: The Ballad Of Friday And June

Embedded above is the touching story of a pretty ukulele player and her pet puppet dog. It’s The Ballad of Friday and June, produced by the Jollyville Pictures filmmaking group in Austin, TX, which just this week relaunched their website. This specific film by them is directed by Tate English, whom I’ve never written about on the Underground Film Journal before, and edited by Don Swaynos, whom I have.

There’s a strong streak of melancholia running through Friday and June that really makes the film absolutely endearing. The premise of pairing a ukulele player and a puppet would seem to anticipate a screwball comedy, but even though there are some very funny parts to the film, it really plays more like a heartwarming drama.

Part of the real key to the film’s success is the authenticity of the dog Friday’s dialogue, which sounds exactly like what a dog would sound like if one could talk. My two particularly favorite bits are the way Friday “barks” and the scene in which he describes watching a squirrel out the window. I swear that if my own cat Leo could speak, he would tell me all about his adventures spotting other animals out the window exactly the same way. Maybe the film is especially resonant to pet lovers like myself, but I think it should have a wider appeal than that.

Jollyville Pictures consists of Don Swaynos, Tate English and Dano Johnson. (Johnson provides the voice for Friday). You can watch other films by the group on their website, including their web series Love, Lies and Video Files. As I said above, I’ve written about Don Swaynos on the Underground Film Journal in the past. He co-directed the amazing Iraq war documentary Year at Danger with Steve Metze; and directed the short film In Defense of Definitions, which also co-starred T. Lynn Mikeska, who plays June above.


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