You Keep Me Hanging On (2017) dir. Sarah Indie
“You Keep Me Hanging On” is a short single-location melodrama about a guilty and desperate older brother who seeks forgiveness for abandoning his younger brother. David, the older one, has come back home to LA to get his younger brother Anthony out of the psychiatric hospital, where he has been admitted for mental illness. We witness David, frustrated, trying to get through to Anthony who has taken a vow of silence to spite him. David has even obtained visa papers for his younger brother to come back home with him to Australia, but this proves difficult as tension heat up over the course of the visit.
This story is written based off David’s point of view, but he isn’t the ‘protagonist’ in the story. Both characters need each others’ reaction and expression to drive the story, just the way dance works. And so you can see two really alpha male characters trying to beef each other up, struggling to reserve their ego. David’s really trying to be the “good older brother” that he has recently felt the ‘overburdening’ guilt to be. Anthony can see through that and he holds onto his resentment and bitterness, spitefully ignoring his brother. So you may ask – what is Anthony’s motive then? Simply, to undermine David’s chance at forgiveness and peace.
This scene is part of a whole script. It is occurs halfway and is a pivotal moment in the story. The story really starts at this point and goes into full speed thereafter, collateral damage and all. I wanted to channel as much emotion into this scene – I could relate to it based on some personal experiences. It was important that as the film’s director that I translated that energy into screen, and as an editor, the images into a concise and impactful short film.
Ben (the cinematographer) and I instantly had the same vision in terms of its’ cinematic direction. We were drawn to the unconventional screen dynamic of the TV show, Mr. Robot (it’s one of the best cinematography that I’ve seen). We took inspiration in the jarring framing style, the tension between the characters through the compositions, the lack of sound, the open airiness, and the lingering silences. We wanted to translate that same awkward tension and unconventional framing into our short because that’s essentially what it would feel like to be right there in that moment.
With that being said, the pre-production process took a lot longer because we had a very specific look and style. We only had three hours to work with for the shoot, so it was time under tension all the way. Should we have had more time, we would’ve tightened the shots and added more variety. For example, we felt like it could do more with close up of Anthony, or even wider shots to bring up the awkward tension – and wider space with more empty chairs and tables would have worked well, too.
Written and directed by Sarah Indie
Director of Photography by Benjamin Ling
Sound by Roger Chen
Edited by Sarah Indie
David played by Charlie Jones
Anthony played by William Rogan-Johnstone
BTS/Special Thanks to Jose Marcelino