If you're a soap opera fan, there's a pretty good chance you'll watch the short film Private and think to yourself "Hey, I know that guy!" Indeed, you probably do. Prior to immersing himself in the indie film world, Private writer, director, and co-star Steve Blackwood spent 11 years and 293 episodes on Days of Our Lives. He's also appeared in feature films such as Cedar Rapids, Machine Gun Preacher, and Beyond the Mask among others.
I've long been captivated by Blackwood's work in indie shorts including this film, an homage to 40's film noir that also dips its cinematic toes into addressing abuse issues that were suppressed during that era. The result is an absorbing, dramatic short centered around a down and out Detroit private detective (Blackwood) who confronts his own past and the class system on a case involving a socialite (Sandy Bainum) and her missing husband, a state senator named Gil Danforth.
Private has already picked up multiple awards along its successful festival journey, no huge surprise given Blackwood's positive reputation on the indie scene and his ability to cast his films quite well. Private is so steeped in the noirish atmosphere that one can practically taste the smoke-filled room and gritty tension of the story as it unfolds. Both Blackwood and Bainum are clearly enjoying their work here and they enjoy a terrific chemistry with one another. Private tells a dramatic story with a refreshing ambiguity that benefits greatly from Jeffrey Buchbinder's immersive black-and-white lensing and Charlie Barnett's atmospheric original music.
I never quite know what to expect when a new film from Blackwood crosses my desk, but I'm always pretty darn sure I'm going to enjoy it. That's certainly the case with Private, which has already screened at 20+ fests and is the kind of little indie gem one loves to find on the festival circuit.