No Witnesses is the debut short film from Big Piktures – independent film makers James and Thomas Pickering. It is a zero budget, guerrilla filmmaking style short that focuses on trying to create a story and characters over production values. The story is fairly simple, though it hints at something bigger and unexplained; two would be thieves intend to break into a house to steal some mystery valuable object, however when they do they are confronted with a scene that neither of them could have expected. Finding the house already having been broken into, a second group thieves, and presumably the home owner, lie beaten and bloody, unconscious on the floor. What ensues is a comicly tragic exchange between the two girls who had intended to rob the house. Do they help? Do they call the police? Who are these people really?
I’m a fan of low to zero budget cinema, gritty, lo-fi projects that get made from the sheer will of the creators. No Witnesses is just such a project, amateur actors delivering decent performances, hand held camera, story and character focussed. The dialogue between the two young women discussing the morality, and irony, of trying to help strangers in a place that you’d intended robbing provides the hook and the entertainment factor. The story tries to set up this larger crime/heist story, with action or further drama bookending the short as audio tracks over black screen; it hints at a bigger story without showing it and while this leaves questions unanswered it forces the viewer to construct some of the narrative.
This sort of project isn’t perfect, which is usually part of the charm of guerilla cinema, there’s a vinyl rip sound that cuts in to frame pauses that overlay character information and while you can see the intended effect it’s a bit jarring, and there are a couple of filter effects that don’t really add to the overall effect. But you forgive it it’s faults. It’s a nice first project, the story is the focus and as with anything if you can get the story then production values will come with time. No Witnesses makes a good effort considering it’s constraints, and delivers a decent script, hopefully we’ll see more promising projects from this group of young filmmakers.