Done In is a Film Debut Done Right

By  · Published on November 30th, 2016

Short of the Day

Adam Stephen Kelly hits a homer his first time up to the plate.

Short films are often first drafts, not just of larger projects, but of a filmmaker’s vision. Shorts are where burgeoning filmmakers go to find themselves, their aesthetic, their narrative sense, and their storytelling voice. Rarely however – so rarely I can’t come up with an example off the cuff – a filmmaker steps behind the camera for his first short and reveals a fully-realized vision, a polished, stylish, engaging and intriguing work that begs to be watched over and over and still leaves you wanting more.

Adam Stephen Kelly is one such filmmaker, and his directorial debut, Done In, is one such short film.

Starring Guy Henry (Cassius on HBO’s Rome) as a man writing his suicide note, in eight succinct minutes Done In relays more beauty, anguish, heartache and surprise than most features can in a couple of hours. Add to this the fluidly-subtle, intimate and almost predatory cinematography of Richard Osbourne, the haunting score of Imran Ahmad, Henry’s performance and the deft characterization and taut atmosphere conjured by Kelly’s script and direction, and the result is, quite simply, one of the best short films I’ve ever seen, and likely the same will go for you. It’s not an easy watch, emotionally, but the best things are not. It is, however, first-rate filmmaking and storytelling, the kind of synergy you’d expect from a seasoned veteran but hardly ever from a first-time director. Kelly has a number of projects lined up, and I can’t wait to see them all. Until then, join me in celebrating the exquisitely bleak portrait that is Done In.

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Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist