Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Kim Sherman’s melancholic comedy Dogwalker.
The Plot: A Chicago dog walker goes the extra mile (and then some) in the wake of an unexpected calamity.
The Film: Sometimes, all you can do is laugh at a tragedy. So have a laugh with Dogwalker.
Why Press Play?
It’s hard to make a dramatic short film. It’s harder to make a funny short film. It’s almost impossible to do both in the same short film. That’s exactly what Kim Sherman does with Dogwalker. Sherman’s film opens with an awkward moment on a subway car. It’s bookended by another. The story in between is a balancing act of complex tonal shifts. It’s sad and sweet and deeply human in a cozy, ‘slice of life’ sort of way. But much of that coziness is tempered by a mean streak. A mean streak that’s buoyed by the sort of humor you’re not always sure you should be laughing at. And a mean streak that will test kind heart of the titular ‘walker’.
Said ‘walker’ is played by the luminous Sarah Hagan. You might recognize her from Freaks and Geeks or Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The actress has made a career of playing mostly secondary characters. Dogwalker puts her particular talents front and center. Hagan makes the most of the occasion by imbuing her character with a timid, guarded humanity. The sort of humanity you see in most city-dwellers. Her Hazel is the slightly sheepish girl you glance at everyday on the subway. But she’s possessed of strength and conviction. Hazel’s conviction should make her crosstown journey – however uneasy – a piece of cake. She’s just not the type to be taken advantage of … unless a pair of gentle eyes pop up to offer a helping hand. Those eyes belong to the brilliant Keith Poulson (Listen Up, Philip & Queen of Earth). And once they pop up, well, Dogwalker sets off on a whole different sort of journey.
Sherman takes great care in setting up that journey. To the point that the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion. Then she pulls the rug out. When she does, the moment staggers you in the same way that life so often does. It’s a little bit shocking. It’s a little bit sad. It’s a little bit infuriating. But it’s kind of funny at the same time. The whole film is that way. Make no mistake, you will laugh at Dogwalker. You’ll probably cringe too. By the time the credits are rolling, you’re likely to be staring at the screen and grinning like an idiot. That’s just the beauty of moment. And that’s the beauty of Dogwalker.
Meet The Crew:
Written & Directed by: Kim Sherman Starring: Sarah Hagan & Keith Poulson Director of Photography: Jack Caswell Music by: Mark Degli Antoni
I hope you enjoy Dogwalker! And I hope you’re noting Kim Sherman’s name. Her film screened to raves at Sundance last year, but that was not her first trip to Park City. Sherman’s produced a string of Sundance faves over the years – including You’re Next (2011), A Teacher (2013) and Wild Canaries (2014). But she clearly has a proclivity for the director’s chair. She’s prepping to direct another short film at the moment and she’s got a feature project in the works too. So keep an eye out for those. If you can’t wait that long, you should check Sherman’s short film Ghosting (2015) over at her Vimeo page. And if you want to learn a little more about Dogwalker, check out Vimeo’s in-depth interview right here. While you’re kicking about, be sure to check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting and you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.