Maya (Logan Floyd) is a functional alcoholic. It's not necessarily readily apparent as we first meet Maya, though there's a layer of tension they seem to be wearing and a quirky penchant for writing post-it notes as daily reminders that would seem to indicate there's something a little unusual going on.
Shot over a weekend in Long Beach with a skeletal crew and a shoestring budget by writer/director Naveen Sagar, Where's Toby? is a riveting, unpredictable indie short about Maya's struggle to keep Toby from being separated. In the short span of 15 minutes, Sagar takes twists and turns that could feel manipulative but instead feel naturally manifested and realistic. These twists and turns are brought vividly to life by Sagar's cast including the absolutely hypnotic Logan Floyd as a parent whose desperation is reflected in every word and every action. It's a fantastic performance that should have Hollywood knocking on Floyd's door.
While Floyd's performance as Maya astounds, equally captivating is that of Cece Rogina as Gina. A CPS investigator who arrives at Maya's place of work to investigate a complaint, Gina arrives with all the gusto we'd expect from someone whose mere presence would seem to have the upper hand. As the story unfolds, Rogina rather magnificently experiences a transformation that packs a major wallop. The fact that Rogina could travel such a remarkable emotional character arc within the confines of a short film is truly impressive and had me heading over to IMDB to check out her filmography. Rogina is definitely one to watch in the future.
Where's Toby? is a sign of tremendous growth as a writer/director for Naveen Sagar. The film is beautifully structured as the story winds down a tricky narrative path that never hits a false note and is compelling from beginning to end. I first encountered Sagar with the short film The Burglar, a promising short film and it's clear that Sagar is fully living into that promise.
Max Gleiser's lensing for the film manages to perfectly align itself with Sagar's narrative with multiple shots that that just left me wowed.
As Where's Toby? gets set for its indie fest run, it's difficult to imagine that this won't be a wildly popular film with its powerful narrative and small but mighty ensemble cast sublimely bringing to life Sagar's unpredictable and stirring story. You'll definitely want to watch for this one at a festival near you.