Daniel Brown is set to leave quite an impression with his impressive short film, Your lucky day. We are introduced to a paramedic, on her break and holding a lottery ticket. She sits in her van watching the rolling numbers appear on an old black and white television. She begins to debate with her colleague about her lack of belief in God, and that winning the lottery is not about having faith, it is about probability, someone has to and will win that million pound ticket.
We cut to a small convenience shop. An old man enters and asks for his usual of a can of Coke and whether the lottery numbers have come in yet. When he checks his ticket, he realises he has won hundreds of millions of dollars. Cue crazed man in mask wielding a gun. You can probably predict what is going to happen next. Spoiler alert, the old man is shot and killed, the seemingly heroic police man who happens to be there is also murdered in the cross fire. The young man then tries to haggled with the witnesses, including a pregnant couple and a savvy shop owner.
He tries to buy them off with a portion of his millions to claim him innocence. This all seems to be a neat way to tie up a violent narrative but the cop isn’t actually killed and breaks out a second fight where everyone suddenly has guns. The shop owner and the pregnant girlfriend are killed. The boyfriend, now overcome with bloodlust kills the first gunman and the police man, taking the winning ticket for himself. But of course he dies and the paramedic arrives on the scene to take the ticket. They all live happily ever after, well the paramedic does.
Although this plot when summarised sounds very cliched and nothing more than a simple observation of the American gun culture, Daniel Brown’s success lies in the effortlessness of his actors and his cinematography. Most short films become amateurish when the story is broken and one of the main causes of this is bad acting, when the director is just starting out and doing a friend a favour who wanted to give acting a go. This simply is not the case for Your lucky day, where each performance is incredibly convincing. Special mention to Ryder Storm, the gunman, who perfectly conveys desperation, anger and an air of someone who couldn’t care anymore. It is always important to invest in good actors as they pull the thread of the story through every scene. Even if the location falls flat and the camera work isn’t exceptional, people will remember a cheap, well told plot.
This is a high end looking short and made more so by the editing. The quick cuts drives the momentum, making us think who is going to get shot next, where is the lottery ticket going to go. The use of close ups on each character’s face make us emotionally invested and when we see the bullet holes inches from the lens, we are right in the action with them. He often uses a shallow depth of field which frames each composition with a dreamy, flattering realism.
The shots are flooded with a sepia glaze as if you were transported back to the 1980s. This would be how you describe a very vivid memory and perhaps Brown has done this intentionally. This is how people recount horrific circumstances. To make us more uncomfortable, Brown uses no music. He creates a soundscape of the radio playing through the shop speakers and the cries and dialogue of his central characters, all to remind us that this is a gritty, real drama.