Indie Shorts: DIRTY BOOKS by Zachary Lapierre

Poster for "Dirty Books" (2016)

Poster for “Dirty Books” (2016) – image source: Timothy J. Cox

When his high school’s newspaper is threatened to be transformed into an online blog, David (Noah Bailey) seeks out the best story within the halls of Prichard Hall School that’ll save the newspaper…even if the story is completely untrue.

So goes the story of DIRTY BOOKS (2016). Released last month by Fitch Fort Films, the short dramedy is the first indie project directed by Zachary Lapierre, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Ian Everhart. One of the four Freres Lapierre (the self-styled “Steely Dan of indie bands”), Lapierre previously acted in, worked on the sound of, and composed music for indie films.

Still from DIRTY BOOKS (2016)

Noah Bailey as lead character David in DIRTY BOOKS (2016) – image source: Timothy J. Cox

The character of David is a more honest take on the high school nerd than the common stereotype, which often neglects the ambitious self-absorption that goes along with being a high-achieving student. In Lapierre and Everhart’s screenplay and as portrayed by Bailey, these traits are on display to both comic and dramatic effect.

Two of David’s classmates act as foils to his character’s youthful idealism and arrogance. Owens (Isaiah Lapierre) is David’s close friend, a fellow nerd who both encourages and warns David about his plan to achieve high school fame while saving the print version of the student newspaper. Owens keeps a running account of his life, including the details of his six-year friendship with David, in a personal, hard-copy journal — which will become a problem for David. Charlotte (Ansley Berg) is a reporter for the school newspaper. David deprecates her work covering sports — to his eventual chagrin.

Still from DIRTY BOOKS (2016)

Charlotte (Ansley Berg) and Principal Bradley (Timothy J. Cox) confront David (Noah Bailey – off screen) in DIRTY BOOKS (2016) – image source: Timothy J. Cox

Veteran actor Timothy J. Cox receives top billing for his supporting role as Dr. Bradley, the principal of Prichard Hall. Bradley represents the reality of the adult world, with its bottom-line orientation, but also provides a more sympathetic portrait of a high school principal than the usual exaggerated caricature. That’s due to Cox’s acting and Lapierre and Everhart’s careful balancing of comedy and drama.

In addition to his directorial work, Lapierre also handles the sound and music for this short, putting his experience with the latter to good use in a catchy, memorable, and thematically appropriate soundtrack of indie tunes. Speaking of themes, there are plenty — traditional versus digital texts, coming-of-age, achieving relevance in a world of anonymity, youth versus maturity, valuing the contributions of others, to name a few. But DIRTY BOOKS won’t hit you over the head with them. Watch it now on YouTube:

Disclosure: Loud Green Bird provided this review at the request of Timothy J. Cox. No financial considerations were involved.