As of the time I’m writing this, Todd Solondz on Becoming a Filmmaker & Welcome to the Dollhouse has 412 views in the 6 months it’s been online. That is a travesty. It’s one of the best short films I’ve seen in ages, albeit an unintentional one.
It’s basically just Todd Solondz being interviewed by a film major at Drexel University, Zachary Shevich, but really it’s so much more. It contains all the precise uncomfortability you might expect from a Solondz film, but wholly organic. For starters, it’s as though Solondz is being interviewed by one of his characters—Zachary’s vibe and mannerisms and attire are similar to that of the protagonist of Dark Horse and certain side characters from Storytelling, Palindromes, and Life During Wartime. Then, there’s the production values—the setting, a college screening room, is uncomfortably overlit; Solondz’ lavalier microphone is placed on the wrong side of his lapel for the direction he is speaking, as though they were nervous to be interviewing him and weren’t thinking, and maybe even switched sides last minute; the lower third graphic stating their names is a depressingly ugly, brown, clipart film strip, with a bland font; there are random mic rumbles here and there from breathing and fidgeting, and at certain points, Solondz bows his head and accidentally talks quite loudly into his mic. On top of all of this, you of course have Solondz’ calmly dour and intimidating demeanor. It’s a must-watch.
My favorite moment is the cut at 1:23 where we see the exact distance and body language of our two characters. That’s the shot at the top of this post. By the way, there’s a Part 2! You can watch both parts below: