Schuermann wrote and directed the 10-minute short, produced by film cohort Kevin J. Beechwood. Indy freelance photographer Brienne Boortz (by way of disclosure) acted as the still photographer on the set.
You first shot at catching the full-length version may be at the next Colorado Short Circuit showing at 6:30, Thursday, Jan. 19, at Colorado College.
I say may, because Schuermann and crew have to step lightly around holding an official public screening ahead of larger film festivals in which they hope to earn a spot, such as Telluride Film Festival. Some apparently have disclaimers about films shown publicly prior to theirs, a first-rights issue of sorts.
But, a rough cut hosted among friends ... well that's a slightly different thing, you see. (Maybe all viewers will have to sign a waiver of secrecy, or perhaps take a blood oath ... what film? I didn't see Conditional at Short Circuit ...)
Anyway, I did catch last night's screening as a guest of Schuermann's, and I'll share a brief response here.
In truth, it was a bit of a rough cut in terms of the sound quality, which Schuermann says was rushed a bit to make the film ready for last night. So I'd expect that to improve by the time the film is mailed to festivals.
But otherwise, solid technical proficiency was evident throughout, with some very nice camera angles and thoughtful blocking on display, highlighting a very serious subject matter.
Even with the success of Haze, Schuermann says he wanted to add something more serious to his resume ahead of Creep!, to essentially prove that he can work within that style, not just in documentary format.
Conditional fictionalizes some of Schuermann's own experiences growing up inside of an abusive household, under a father with an alcohol problem. Scenes from the film that take place around a Christmas tree are directly inspired by some of Schuermann's tough encounters with his father, though some moments are admittedly embellished a bit.
Without giving away the ending, I'll say that forgiveness is a very overt, obvious theme in the movie, as is regret. Both themes are handled well visually and symbolically, as there isn't actually a tremendous amount of dialogue.
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay the film, which I did like, is that the crew managed to fit a lot into 10 minutes, demonstrating a sharpness in editing and conciseness in storytelling. It's a difficult thing to do, often under-appreciated by audiences.
Some short films tend to just cut off, lacking even a small sense of resolve or completion of a narrative arc. This is not one of them. Sure, it invites a little discussion afterward about the resolution of the father and son's relationship — the entire focus of the film — but the outcome of events is clear when the credits roll.
Here's wishing the local team well as it fine tunes and finalizes Conditional and sends it out to the festivals. Success with it would certainly aid the continued effort to fund the making of Creep!.