[Review/Podcast] George Vatistas' Short Film 'The Hobbyist'


Based on a short by Federic Brown, The Hobbyist short film by George Vatistas is as equally, if not more so, haunting than the story it's based off of.

The short stars a convincing Daniel Mitura playing Sangstrom. Alongside him stars Robert W. Smith who plays the unnerving Druggist. Between the two of them, their chemistry is undeniable.

The story is about a man seeking an infamous undetectable poison supposedly sold at this particular drug store. With very little small talk, Sangstrom asks the Druggist if he indeed does sell such an item. The Druggist informs Sangstrom that he does, and they can talk about it over a cup of coffee. Once in the back of the drug store, the two sip coffee. The Druggist asks Sangstrom why he needs the poison. Sangstrom starts to answer hesitantly, citing that he believes his wife is cheating on him, but before he spills his guts to the unfamiliar man, he stops and asks, "What does it matter?" It is shortly thereafter that The Druggist informs Sangstrom that he is worthy of his poison, but unfortunately, worthy means Sangstrom just ingested it fore it was in the coffee he drank.

Panicking, yelling, and eventually brandishing a gun, Sangstrom pleads for the antidote. The Druggist informs Sangstrom that he can have the antidote for the low low price of $1,000. And that he'll also have to write a letter confessing what he tried to do there that day. The Druggist then mails the letter to his detective friend whom is still on the police force. That way if Sangstrom decided to take matters into his own hands by killing the Druggist and/or his wife, the letter would serve as his confession.

What is truly eye-catching is the superb job by the Art Director, Jake Folsom, the Set Decorator, Anastasia Baker, and Production Design by Kristi and Kristina Palmer. The use of dark greens and dark browns (if I'm seeing it right) absolutely sell the vintage drug store. Not only the drug store itself, but the entire environment in which the story is set in. Also, complimenting the entire environment is the director of photography Ryan De Franco and composer Robert Eletto. Coupling the way the camera moves with eerie score helps in your mind's commitment to the story, the characters, and surroundings. So, if you have 9 minutes and are interested in something suspenseful, in something Noir-ish - look no further than The Hobbyist. All involved have a bright future in filmmaking.

For more podcast episodes, please visit ellissinema.com.

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