Short indie film round-up: Customer Service, Grit and Jewels

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A trio of short films that are well, well worth your time – and they’re all available to watch for free as well! More here.

Welcome to our regular spot on the Film Stories site where I highlight short independent films that are available to watch online.

I try to favour undiscovered gems over viral hits but if it’s worth your time I feature it. This week we’re going on a crime spree and they’re all British flicks! Two films involve hold ups in convenience stores, both with very different outcomes, and the third is a Guy Richie inspired gangster caper. Let’s get cracking.

Customer Service (Dir. Jake Morris)

First up is this funny little robbery-gone-wrong caper set in a newsagents which shows that good customer service can get you out of a pickle, even during a stick-up.

Nilesh Pandey stars as a bored night shift worker in a corner shop whose tedium is shattered when a knife wielding robber (Christian King) enters the scene. It becomes pretty clear how inept he is and comedy ensues. This is a tidy little comic short with great performances throughout (including an off-the-wall one from Ben Sura who plays the shop owner).

Morris directs with professionalism and the funny script by Enrico Hallworth is delivered with solid comedy timing by editor Ben Collier. This will certainly have you chuckling along right up until the ending. The whole thing was filmed in a real newsagents who get special thanks at the end. I imagine after featuring here they’ll be inundated with Film Stories enthusiasts, taking selfies outside.

At the time of writing it was at just over 2k views. Show it a little love and check it out below:

Grit (Dir. Oli Caig)

Next it’s a fun college project from Any Road Productions that leans heavily into Guy Richie’s gangster aesthetic with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Oli Caig directs and stars as the nameless Michael Caine-a-like hero whose voice over sets the scene. He’s after a bag full of money belonging to his boss that he doesn’t intend on giving back.

There’s an excellent use of music in this and the V.O. is on point with the irreverence of British gangster flicks. Since it’s filmed by and stars largely students (and the older Robert Perks as the big boss) it has the charm of a film like Edgar Wright’s Fist Full of Fingers. Caig is great in the lead and Perks’ sweary scouse crime lord hits the mark.

Nice shot selection and well-paced editing serves the story well and the performances are delivered with gusto. They make good use of their locations too with nicely crafted shots from cinematographer Declan Perks.

Any Road Productions plan to make more movies in the future and I for one will be watching out for them and reviewing. At the time of writing Grit has just over 700 views. Definitely worth 7 minutes of your time. Check it out here:

Jewels (Dir. Matty Groves)

Caution: Contains discriminatory language and bloody violence. Racial tension spills over in a convenience store when a violent robber enters. However, things don’t go according to plan in a shocking twist of fate that turns the whole film on its head.

This is a brilliant example of a film that starts out as one thing then becomes something else entirely in a blink of an eye. The tension is ratcheted up expertly in the first half by director Matty Groves, who handles the twist and the tonal shift with ease. By the end you’ll be grinning rather than grimacing. I don’t want to say too much, you should go in cold like I did.

Jewels is shot on 16mm film (complete with scratch marks and retro titles) and looks very cinematic for its 6 minute runtime thanks to DoP Sam Morris. Hats off to the special effects team who provide the shocks at the midpoint. This has the feel of a Tarantino story that’s just getting started by the end. Jewels has plenty of style, attention to detail and humour. Would love to see more from Matty Groves. Check it out here:

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