As a film journalist who dwells within the world of indie cinema, it’s not particularly rare to come across films that are considered “no budget” or “microcinema” or “low budget” or even films that are portrayed as “low budget” but really are surprisingly well budgeted cinematic efforts.
You get the full spectrum.
Sometimes, you’re really impressed.
Other times? Not so much.
The Human Project is one of those films where you finish watching it, then you find yourself poring over the credits and can’t help but notice that the modestly budgeted project accomplishes really great things and leaves you mumbling to yourself “You can make a really great film for not a lot of cash.”
Indie filmmakers take note.
Written by co-lead David Beatty and directed by K. Spencer Jones, The Human Project recently had its west coast premiere at LA Shorts and continues on its successful festival journey with screenings at such fests as Kansas City FilmFest, Sunscreen Film Festival, Sioux Empire Film Festival, Southside Film Festival, and the Okotoks Film Festival where it picked up the prize for Best Screenplay.
The story centers around two estranged siblings, Beatty’s Marcus and Chelsea Alden’s Frances, who are the kind of estranged siblings who instantly resonate. Less hostile toward one another and more quietly disengaged through a combination of time, distance, circumstance, and life experience, the elder Marcus has taken old life wounds and created an intellectual facade while Frances seems to be a spiritual being living in a world with life experiences she can’t quite grasp.
In essence, Marcus and Frances love each other. They just don’t know how to love one another.
The Human Project is a lovely little film. It’s a film that immersed me in its thoughts and feelings rather quickly, enveloping me in much the same way that Kevin Garrison’s lensing envelopes the sky surrounding Frances’s seemingly distant yet increasingly intimate conversations with her brother. The original score by Mike Schuppan and Travis Warner aids matters, a quiet companion to soul-searching conversations revealing repressed truths and unspoken revelations.
Yet, what really allows The Human Project to soar is the fragile relationship developed between Beatty’s Marcus and Alden’s Frances, the latter whom elicited a rather delighted “Ha!” moment from me at one point as I chuckled at the unexpected connection to one of my favorite films.
Both Beatty and Alden are exceptional here, neither forcing dramatic heights yet both finding emotional honesty and stark authenticity within their characters. The simplicity of the story is deceptive here, with big things happening in little ways and both Beatty and Alden seem to understand that.
The Human Project is a joy from beginning to end, a quiet journey through bereavement and familial bonds and the things that both break and restore them. If it comes to a fest near you, I suggest catching it on the big screen.