It's the delightful pairing of Mark Prendergast and Taylor Joree Scorse that really sells the entertaining yet insightful 12-minute short film Main Character Energy, directed by Sohale Dezfoli and written by Nicholas Begnaud.
Begnaud's story introduces us to Brian (Prendergast), an actor who walks into an open casting call office in L.A. only to be surrounded by multiple other actors all waiting on their chance to try out for a film they know nothing about. Hoping for a juicy role among a long list of names, Brian's attempt to discern the best role to read for is interrupted by an increasingly impatient assistant (Kacey Rose) and a growing line of actors behind him.
Jordan. “30s”, “intelligent”, “dark hair”, “kind eyes," pops out and is where he lands.
At first, we're convinced that Main Character Energy may be about this waiting room itself. As the story unfolds and Brian finally encounters Lizzie (Taylor Joree Scorse), it becomes pretty clear that there's a lot more going on in this spirited, funny, yet pointed narrative.
Main Character Energy takes a lighter approach to wrestling with gender roles and gender norms and how they all plays out in the entertainment industry and society at large. They impact our two characters here, of course, and it's compelling to watch how it unfolds for each of them and, eventually, collectively. Awkwardly, both Brian and Lizzie are forced to confront their own issues around identity and to transparently make themselves vulnerable in the process.
It's uncomfortable. It's a little weird. It's definitely funny.
Both Prendergast and Scorse are able to wring their characters for every ounce of humor while never making fun of their actual characters. There's an underlying seriousness here that shines through even as we're laughing with them and not at them. Truthfully, both of these characters are quite impressive - they draw us in and make us vulnerable alongside them. The film's closing moments are, quite simply, a joy.
Prendergast, a Scottish actor based in Los Angeles, makes Brian the kind of character you'd like to see more of and the kind of character that feels like he'd be right at home in a sitcom. It's a tremendous performance that becomes even more vibrant once the wonderful Scorse shows up and adds a spark and layer of emotional resonance that truly helps the film. Scorse is so wonderful here that I found myself looking up her IMDB page even as the closing credits were scrolling by.
Both Kacey Rose and Tracy Dye shine in supporting roles as part of a strong ensemble cast.
Original music by Naveed Dezfoli nicely complements the film's comedic rhythms and Paul W. Sauline's lensing is impressive throughout and especially in the film's closing moments.
Director Sohale Dezfoli has crafted a wonderfully winning short film that thoughtfully entertains and even challenges a bit along the way. With a strong cast and crew, Main Character Energy is a short film to watch for on the indie circuit in the coming months.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic