Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Online Cinema

Short Film: Happy Birthday

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 18, 2010

Would you buy a button from this dude? No, but you gotta give him credit. At least he’s hustling his ass trying to make a buck in an uncaring world. Embedded above is the short film Happy Birthday by Ryan Thompson, which was awarded Best Short at the 2009 Minneapolis Underground Film Festival in December. Be careful: For a couple of brief clips, this film is NSFW. (But, mostly it’s ok.)

It’s an amusing short. Took me a little while to get into it, but I really liked the street scenes of star Beck DeRobertis trying to hustle his buttons. These scenes seem to be a combination of staged events and interactions with real people. Also, when he’s trying to convince people about how hard he busting his ass to sell some buttons are pretty funny, too.

DeRobertis plays his character in a very believable way, with a nice mixture of sincerity and stupidity. I don’t feel like the actor is making fun of his character, and is instead trying to get the audience to sympathize  and empathize with him, which is really tough as it would be easier just to make himself look like a total unlikeable buffoon. But, I really ended up feeling for him as a person.

Plus, Thompson mixes up the shooting to keep the story, such that it is, moving along. Some of it’s real guerrilla street theater. Some of it’s very stylized. Some of it’s quick and dirty. Some of it’s nicely blocked. But, even though it mixes up these styles, there’s a consistency of vision throughout the entire film.

And you don’t see many films anymore with a main character who “tussins.”