Everything’s online-only nowadays. It isn’t just the newsstands that have been affected by the digital revolution – even the school newspaper’s going to be turned into a money-saving blog, unless its editor can do something about it. That’s the premise of “Dirty Books”, a fifteen-minute short by first-time director Zachary Lapierre.
As it turns out, “doing something about it” means, for editor David (Noah Bailey), making up stories of his own, which begins with pasting girly pictures into history books in the library. Soon the newspaper is all anyone at school wants to talk about. But, of course, such a grave violation of journalistic ethics is not consequence-free, and the script for the short does an admirably good job of telling a self-contained story, and not straining to fit more than can be comfortably dealt with in fifteen minutes. It’s a journalistic drama, complete in itself, transposed to a high-school setting in much the same way as we’ve seen high-school film noir, high-school police procedurals, high school Shakespeares and Austens, and so on.
The script may be the highlight here, but the direction isn’t bad at all either, with Lapierre mostly favouring static set-ups appropriate to the tight, school-office spaces he’s shooting, but isn’t afraid to make use of some more ambitious shots depending on where the action takes us. Sadly there is a weak link here in the acting, with Bailey looking vaguely uncomfortable on-set, like the film is something he’s been talked into. The actors around him never manage to convince either, with the exception of the teacher character played by Timothy J. Cox. In fairness, Cox has a full IMDb profile with 115 credits to his name, which is more than the number of credits for every single other actor in the short combined. But, if the short is unlikely to make for an obscure first credited rôle for any future stars, as a showcase for its director, it’s one to be proud of.
Will you be checking Dirty Books out? Let us know in the comment box below!