THE OTHER SIDE (2015) Hits the Festival Circuit in a Big Way

Poster for THE OTHER SIDE - image source: Facebook

Poster for THE OTHER SIDE – image source: Facebook

Just coming off its world premiere last month at the 2015 Taos Shortz Film Festival (where it won a People’s Choice Honorable Mention award), indie dark comedy THE OTHER SIDE has found itself the recipient of high praise and acceptance into several additional festivals this season. Legendary television interviewer Larry King called it a must-see. Shortly after Taos, the film screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It will be screening this Thursday at the Athens International Film + Video Festival in Athens, OH; later this month it will show at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, TX. However, the short moved into more heady territory two weeks ago, when THE OTHER SIDE’s filmmaking team learned that it will be competing in the 2015 Court Metrage at Cannes.

THE OTHER SIDE: Background

One of the reasons for this THE OTHER SIDE’s swift rise on the festival circuit is the depth and potential of its relatively young cast and crew. The film stars DeDe Drake, Lidiya Korotko, Brandon Bales, and Brian Papson.

Lidiya Korotko and DeDe Drake star in THE OTHER SIDE

Lidiya Korotko and DeDe Drake star in THE OTHER SIDE – image source: Facebook

Known for her comedy sketch work with the all-female, Los Angeles-based Lady Pantz, DeDe Drake has appeared in several short films, one of which (“Devil Dog” (2014), dir. Thomas Bailey) she also produced. She has also acted in web and network TV series, including “Criminal Minds” and “Big Time Rush.” She co-wrote and executive produced “Lady Pantz Presentz,” in which she also performed comedy sketches.

In addition to acting in multiple short and several feature-length films and videos, Lidiya Korotko co-wrote, produced, and starred in “Mila Dear to All” (2012), a dramatic short about sex trafficking. She has studied acting at the Meisner Technique Studio in San Francisco.

Actor Brandon Bales is the male lead in THE OTHER SIDE - image source: IMDB

Actor Brandon Bales is the male lead in THE OTHER SIDE – image source: IMDB

Brandon Bales has 45 acting credits (and counting) to his name, including the 2014 indie feature “Ever” (dir. Josh Beck) and the 2011 short “Found” (dir. Anthony Bushman), in which he starred. He is especially proud of starring in Gregg Hale’s “Say Yes Quickly” (2004). From the producers of “The Blair Witch Project,” the film won Best Feature at the IndieMemphis Film Festival.

Brian Papson appears in a supporting role in THE OTHER SIDE - image source: IMDb

Brian Papson appears in a supporting role in THE OTHER SIDE – image source: IMDb

Brian Papson has a filmography that is weighted towards the horror genre. He is known for his roles in Horror House on Highway 6 (2014, dir. Richard Casey) and Il Mantello (2012, dir. Goran Stankovic). He moved to L.A. with the intention of pursuing a music career, but instead discovered his passion for acting. He currently studies with Ivana Chubbuck and is represented by Artistic Talent.

 

Emmy-nominated writer-director Scott Brown’s past work includes an independent web series and projects with CBS Films, Funny or Die, and Dreamworks. On Hulu, he has directed over 400 episodes of “Larry King Now.” In 2014, he picked up two awards. He won at the International Academy of Web Television Awards (Best Directing in a Comedy) and at the LA Web Fest (Directing: Dramedy), both for “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” (2013).

The film’s cinematography was done by Kristoffer May. May attended film school at San Diego State University, worked as a camera operator, then became a DP (with three previous credits). Original music was composed for the film by Philip Wareborn, Born in Sweden, Wareborn has pursued a career in film music that brought him to the United States. In Los Angeles, he cofounded a production company, Department 4. 

Producers for THE OTHER SIDE include Bryan Brown, Gustav Lindquist, and Steven Tobler. They brought their combined experience with digital media, animation, graphics, art, and production design to bear in producing the film.

THE OTHER SIDE: Story

Another major factor in THE OTHER SIDE’s success to date is the story that it tells. The summary (from the film’s website) runs as follows:

Work is hard, love is tough, and bullets are cheap. At a perilous crossroads in their relationship, Kate and Abby find themselves embroiled in a botched burial job in the desert. Pitted against each other, a bloodthirsty gang of meth-heads, and bodies that just won’t stay dead, our lovers must face the ultimate trial to prove themselves worthy in the face of imminent danger, death…

…and chicken.

Chicken? Yes! The moral of the story lies in the film’s reworking of the old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The revised answer is both dark and funny. Moreover, an actual chicken has a key cameo role in the short — both as a sight gag and as a symbol of a “crossing over” that (in different ways) all four main characters face.

Kate (Drake) and Abby (Korotko) are professional “cleaners” (of a sort) for a drug syndicate. As they drive into the California desert to dispose of the body of Ethan (Bales), a self-described incompetent cocaine dealer, they argue about the direction of their relationship. Unfortunately, Ethan’s killers are themselves not up to snuff, as he regains consciousness as Kate and Abby are about to bury him. Ethan alternately pleads and fights for his life.

The conflict between Kate, Abby, and Ethan attracts Sy (Papson) and his three brothers, all of whom are homophobic redneck tweakers who are up to no good themselves. This turn of events sparks another conflict that creates an unexpected alliance among Kate, Abby, and Ethan. The outcome of this dangerous confrontation will change the lives of all involved, especially Kate’s and Abby’s.

THE OTHER SIDE: Commentary

The chemistry among the cast members of THE OTHER SIDE is undeniable. Although the runtime for this short is only about 20 minutes, I felt that I knew all of them well by the closing credits. Their life decisions, good and bad, tell much about them, whether their actions are taken on screen or related in dialogue. Moreover, Drake, Korotko, Bales, and Papson clearly understand their characters well, which explains their completely believable portrayals of them. This praise is not to take away from the supporting cast. As Sy’s brothers (humorously named Ki, Ty, and Ri), Zack Gold, Hamilton Matthews, and Christopher Stokes Mitchell provide dark comic relief as they also support Papson’s lowbrow malevolence.

The cinematography and sound nicely capture the arid beauty of nature in the desert and juxtapose it with the sometimes-beautiful, sometimes-ugly interactions between and among the characters in this setting. The editing (by Jonathan M. Levine) lets the scenes flow so smoothly that the film seems shorter than 20 minutes. An interesting (and, I believe, cinematically successful) decision to include a dream sequence pays off by foregrounding a major conflict in the mind and life of one of the major characters. All of this is artistically enhanced by Wareborn’s original musical score, which is performed hauntingly well by quality artists.

As written and directed by Scott Brown, THE OTHER SIDE tells a story that successfully treads the line between comedy and drama, succeeding at being both darkly funny and disturbingly serious. It comes highly recommended by this reviewer. Check out the trailer below, then catch it at an upcoming festival. News (including upcoming screenings) about the film can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as on its official website.

Disclosure: In exchange for a fair and honest review, this reviewer received access to an online screener and press kit for THE OTHER SIDE. No financial considerations were involved in the writing and publication of this blog post.