Friday, 28 August 2015

Blue Sushi: A Review of Bertie Gilbert and Sammy Paul's newest short


IT IS FINALLY OUT! Blue Sushi, a Sammy Paul and Bertie Gilbert starring Poppy Harold, Bertie Gilbert, Andrea Valls, Shaun Cowlishaw and Khyan Mansley follows the coming out of a lead singer of Blue Sushi as a transgender man, to her band mates, manager and the world. It shows the effects of acceptance and the hardship of hate. It also explores the effect and pressure of the fame that surrounds him after coming out.
Ok, I have waited since July and the start of the production for this to come out and it is finally here. Before I start the review I want to just do a quick outline of my experience as an extra in the gig scene. Yes, I had the opportunity to join about 400 London-based YouTube fans in Islington's 02 Academy to attend a free gig (courtesy of Dodie Clark) and also be part of this awesome project.
Being a fan of the short films I have seen made by Bertie Gilbert and Sammy Paul, both together and seperately, I wanted to be part of one and this was the perfect opportunity. After falling madly in love with the style and story of "Rocks that Bleed" (2015) by the same directors, I knew that "Blue Sushi" would be one to look forward too.
Having arrived at the shoot half and hour early, I got to queue outside and talk to a few other fans and young people. Moving forward in this queue that stretched quite far back, I spotted Jack Howard, half of comedy duo Jack and Dean and film maker, just behind the barriers and I got to say hi and take a selfie. Although I wanted to express my gratitude for his work and content on YouTube all I got out was "I love your videos". Great. I am so good at interaction, aren't I? 

Jack Howard takes good selfies. Fact. Also star of "Rocks that Bleed"
Thought I should just mention that, anyway on with the story.
All of us gathered inside and formed a decent crowd and got instructions from Sammy on what to do in each shot, such as shouting “Blue Sushi” repeatedly before the band ran on stage and played the song that, by the end of the day, was stuck in my head for a good week or so. I won't stay down, I'll stick to the floor, if I don't mOVE MYSELF RIGHT NOOOOW NO NO NOOO, cough. (Thank you, Daniel Dobbs for this wonderfully catchy song.) Obviously, I was excited to see if I am in any of the shots or not and I am glad to say I am! Basically a little shot of me when the camera is going through the crowd, clapping like a seal and the lovely back of my head. I am happy. 
The two little screen caps of me, my acting career is reaching new heights.

Throughout this shoot we had a few breaks where Dodie Clark performed and so did Jack Howard. This whole ordeal lasted 4 hours and it was all very tiring but really fun and rewarding. Afterwards we got to meet the cast and crew of this production so here are a few pictures I took during this shoot. It was a pleasure meeting people who share the same passions. I wish I took more photos but my stupid battery on my phone failed miserably. However here is a little collage:
My face wasn't necessary here. Clockwise from top left including me in each photo: Dodie Clark, Bertie Gilbert, Shaun Cowlishaw, Andrea Valls and Sammy Paul. Centre: Dodie Clark and Jack Howard performing 'Four Five Seconds'
Now on to the verdict, I loved it. Honestly the whole thing had so many crisp and fresh shots and just what I wanted and expected it to be. No pressure, by the way. Although a lot of YouTube films are made so beautiful thanks to Ciaran O'Brien's director of photography skills but I was surprised to see Edgar Dubrovskiy as the D.O.P here and it was amazing (sorry Ciaran). Having looked at his website, I am extremely impressed by his wide range of work and the examples of work he provides. A good cinematographer can make the film look amazing but what about the other factors such as lighting, editing and acting? 
One of my favourite things about making a film is lighting and the immense importance of it. People don't realise that lighting is ever so important and it can change the whole film, give it an ominous glow or even the brightest joy. I like the low-key lighting look in films and I think this nailed it. The red glow on stage looked so much better on screen than in person and it gave such a nice effect. Although there aren't many scenes that are in full natural light (another favourite), I am still quite in favour of the indoor 'rock n' roll' feel I get through the lighting and it makes it a lot more real for me as a viewer. Some of it can be quite distracting but I guess, this is the effect that the editors (Bertie Gilbert and Sammy Paul) were going to achieve. 
Editing wise, it takes real skill and bravery to have these emotional long takes and long dialogue scenes and not try to make them shorter in the cutting room (cool words). I applaud this, although I had a little trouble with some long dialogues as I tend to zone out but some of Khyan Mansley's lines were hilarious, but then again my humour is subject to people saying funny things with straight faces. Khyan is a very calm and oblivious to having said anything wrong and just because of his acting style in his own videos, he played this character of a seemingly emotionless manager pretty naturalistically. 
Having seen most of these actors in previous films such as both Andrea Valls and Shaun Cowlishaw were in Hazel Hayes' latest film, Septem and that film gave me all sorts of chills, good chills. So, after seeing them in this shoot I was ecstatic to see them back on another YouTube short film and I was happy to tell them so (more embarrassing encounters of Anne-Marie Dames). Poppy Harold, was an amazing character that took the role on and gave such a realistic touch to it. I have seen their video 'genderology' before the film was released and it clicked when I was watching it. I am glad that auditions happened to find the lead character for this film because if not we wouldn't have such a great lead for this wonderful story. As always, Bertie Gilbert's role in each of his shorts is important and usually is a catalyst for some of the action that happens. It was nice to see him take on a fellow accepting band member role and it was very believable. 
This leads me on to the story. It is quite an interesting way to portray a tough subject that is a huge deal in 2015 and possibly for the next few years. Rather than showing a fully depressing side of being transexual, we get to see the acceptance, the help that is received and the independence Scarlett (well, their name for now) has in the end. Although, I don't want to spoil anything, I will say that the crowd scene was shocking and still hurt me emotionally even though I knew what was happening. Just watch it ok! AND WHY ANOTHER ENDING LIKE THIS! *clears throat* I am very satisfied that I have been part of this minimally and that I have watched this film and thoroughly loved it.

Overall I give this wonderful short film a rating of:

★★★★ and a half (I can't find a half star, I tried)
It is a must watch due to the topics it explores and just in general the people that worked on it are amazingly talented in their own fields. I recommend seeing a few of the director's previous work and enjoying how much improvement there has been over the year's. The only issue that took away the half was the long dialogue but that is just my personal preferences in film. In conclusion, this is a must see for YouTube watchers and young film makers to explore the styles of short films.

Watch Blue Sushi here!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my review and see you in my next post :)

P.S. Suit up! (Not How I Met Your Mother)

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