[30] SHORT FILM ANALYSIS 7: Spy vs. Guy

Spy vs. Guy (2013) is a short film directed by Seth Worley, Worley has a large background into writing and directing short films, his first of which was released in 2006, this piece is one of his most popular receiving a rating of 8.0/10 on imdb.com. The short film follows a Russian spy who lost a coin containing a signal for a Soviet missile strike to be launched, the Spy foolishly uses the coin in order to buy a bottle of fizzy drink, many years into the future he finds that the coin was given as change from the machine to a pizza delivery man, he tries many creative ways in which he may be able to retain the coin however to no avail, one day the pizza man left the coin on top of his microwave which initiated a countdown procedure for the launch of this missile, eventually the missile gets launched only for the spy to find out the the weapon head had expired around 20 years earlier.

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The narrative of this short film is non-linear, it starts with a flashback to baby years earlier and then jumps to the present day, this shows an audience not only that this story takes place over a long time span but also that it is quite a complex story. The non-linear narrative is a convention of short films and is something that despite being very common place, I have not seen as much of as I would have expected in my previous analysis’. The narrative of this piece is also very closed, it sets up for a climax which when it comes answers all of the possible questions that we could have been left with from this short film, a closed narrative is something that is not very common place in short films but I feel has been used effectively in this example.

Mise-en-scene is used very well in this piece, firstly in the way that at the very beginning of this piece the Russian Spy is dressed in clothing that is not only associated with spies, a suit, but it also looks very contemporary to the the time of which it is set, this immediately tells us not only what we should expect to see but also at which time it is set and a basic idea of what genre we should expect to see. Low key lighting is used throughout this piece for multiple reasons, it is mysterious which matches the theme of most spy films as well as telling us that there is some kind of conflict or death connected to there actions, as the audience later finds out there is in the form of a missile strike. A lot of non-diegetic sound is used in this short film, this is because in the spy theme there is often lots of suspenseful music used and this has been replicated effectively by the director of this short film, Seth Worley. Diegetic sound is also used in this piece but not so much in the form of dialect, it is often noises such as mechanical clunking or beeping, this was done as the director obviously felt that a short film doesn’t really require talking to tell the story and that it should be more visual… this can also be seen in some other examples of Worley’s work such as ‘Real Gone’.

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This piece is an action/comedy hybrid genre, the action element can be seen in the way that it is conventional of spy films, it features weapons, conflict and many other things that you would expect to see in an action film. The comedy element of this film is also fairly obvious to an audience, it is reminiscent of the ‘Roadrunner’ and ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons in the way that although he is trying everything he can to get this coin he still can’t get it off of him despite his theoretically large advantage.

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The Russian spy in this piece is represented as being very clumsy, this could have been done for two main reasons, firstly that it matches the comedy genre and is therefore used as a sort of victim character much as Tom was in the ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons. Another interpretation of this is that this is an example of the hegemonic ideals being replicated by this director, during and after the Cold War the Russians were often criticised by the American media, the director in this piece  is not only American but is the right age (31) to have caught the backend of the fallout, this could mean that this is a good example of how Gramsci’s theory on hegemonic ideals could be correct as the director has definitely been seen to believe in this. The spy in this piece is juxtaposing our real life perceptions on spies, we tend to expect them to be very clinical and precise and this is not seen here. The picture below on the left shows an example of how clumsy he has been represented in this short film.

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To conclude, I quite liked this short film, it is another example of how the short film genre can use a hybrid genre to effect… I would definitely like to use this in my piece to help me with the production of my piece. I really like the way that Seth Worley has used the comedy genre as part of his piece as well, this may be very hard for me to replicate but I am starting to warm to the idea of it as I have seen that it can be effective in short films such as this and also in  ‘Spy Glass’, a piece that I have also reviewed. The action genre may also be something to look at putting into my piece, it frequently occurs in short films so i may have to integrate it into my piece. The non-linear narrative is also something that I would like to use in my piece that can be seen in this short film.

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