Review: Second Team
A scorned stand-in actor for a hit TV show distorts the script to publicly berate her co-star.
Many short films quite rightly highlight the many struggles and sources of turmoil that confront people from the LGBTQIA+ community. This often comes in the form of family conflict, identity issues, societal ostracization and many other pressures and hardships, leaving only love to rely on. This is often the basis of many powerful and impactful stories that wider audiences need to see. It can, however, lead to not asking certain questions, such as what happens when the conflict comes from within the relationship? What happens when communication breaks down? What happens when the two people in the relationship work together? And what happens when that conflict comes to a head within that workplace…which happens to be the set of a TV show? Writer Anni Weisband and director Ria Pavia set about asking some of these questions and their answers end up being pretty hilarious.
Couching the setting of the story within the production of a frankly awful fictional sitcom, the film veers hard into mining comedy from a frustrated creative team, who are forced to endure horrific performances from the show’s leads. Lead by a director near the end of his rope (Phill Lewis displaying his skill of playing a character constantly having to deal with the incompetence of others and always being on the verge of snapping as a result) the crew laments just how bad the show is, each one upping their elaborate ridicule until the film itself essentially tells them to dial it back.
This establishes the key style of the movie, which can be summed up in one word – escalation. Pavia, working in stylistic lockstep with DoP and Producer Robert E. Arnold, slip slickly between the flat and sanitised multi-camera sitcom style of the show and the shadowy, shaded and almost colour-drained depiction of the world behind the camera. This is where we are introduced to the main characters and sources of the story’s key conflict. Molly (Francia Raisa) welcomes co-star Jackie (Danielle Savre) with the coldest of shoulders prompting the characters to provide the first vestiges of chemistry from any of the performers in or around the show. With the comedic theme of escalation already established, we know as soon as these two characters interact that things will not stop at passive aggressive comments.
The opening half of the film does a great job of setting up the second. It shows us the scene in which the main conflict will play out, it clues us in to the relationship woes of Molly and Jackie and establishes the need for them to address their issues and the suppression of their very real feelings and the desperate need of the crew to see some something approaching heat in front of the camera. In doing so, the film telegraphs that everyone is going to get what they asked for and then some.
Studio: Second Team | Year: 2020 | Genre: Comedy | Duration: 10 Mins | Suitability: Mature
Francia Raisa, Danielle Savre, Phill Lewis, Sally Ann Brooks, Gigi Zumbado, Greer Grammer, Chester Lockhart
Director: Ria Pavia | Producers: Julia Armine, Robert E. Arnold, Mayon Denton, Ria Pavia, Anni Weisband | Writer: Anni Weisband
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