- Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015
“The Bridge Partner,” a 14-minute short directed by Gabriel Olson, recently won the Wes Craven Best Horror Film Award at the Catalina Film Festival. Olson’s psychological thriller was selected by the legendary horror filmmaker himself prior to his passing. To date, “The Bridge Partner” has screened at 20 festivals worldwide while earning Best Horror/Suspense Film at COMIC-CON Int. Independent Film Festival 2015, as well as the Audience Award at D.C. Shorts.
In “The Bridge Partner,” based on the short story by Hugo Award-winning author Peter S. Beagle (“The Last Unicorn”), a timid housewife is jolted into a fight for her survival -- or her sanity -- when her new weekly bridge partner whispers a threatening message.
The film stars Beth Grant (“No Country for Old Men,” “Donnie Darko”) as housewife Mattie Whalen, four-time Emmy nominee Sharon Lawrence (“NYPD Blue,” “Desperate Housewives”) as her bridge partner/stalker Olivia Korhonen, and Oscar nominee Robert Forster (“The Descendants,” “Jackie Brown”) as her dismissive husband Don Whalen.
To learn more and view the trailer: http://www.thebridgepartner.com/
For Olson, who is repped for commercials by Durable Goods, his experience directing :30 stories for advertising translated seamlessly into the creation process for his short film.
“In commercials, you have to be decisive and convey an idea quickly,” says Olson. “How you portray the story and its characters is very deliberate. My work in spots really helped me approach the film from an economical standpoint in terms of shot design; especially in advancing the story and creating tension in every frame.”
“The Bridge Partner” narrative resonated with Olson as a filmmaker because thematically it examines what happens when someone who thinks the world is against her encounters someone who actually is -- and no one believes her. It explores what human beings do when confronted with real danger -- do we trust our own instincts or the advice of those around us? The story uses an allegorical tale told by one character to another about a countryside dog’s struggle against its primal wolf-like instincts to kill sheep.
“We had fun tackling the psychological dance between the two characters,” says Olson. “With the allegory of the sheep and dog in the story, the question became can a sheep become a dog and vice versa? Sometimes, we play the sheep in life and take a more passive or timid stance. Other times, we’re the dog, capable of lashing out and standing up for ourselves. I loved the symbolism here.”
The film was shot over three days at a Women’s Club in Altadena, California, as well as locations in the San Fernando Valley. Olson praises the seasoned actors and crew who all brought their passion and utmost professionalism on and off the set.
“It was exciting to rehearse with Beth and Sharon for the first time,” says Olson. “They’re so good at what they do, and I loved the depth of thought they put into their characters. It was great to watch Robert step on set and bring the history of the marital relationship to life so beautifully. Crew-wise, I was able to bring a lot of talent from my work in commercials. DP Robby Baumgartner also brought his vast filmmaking experience beyond commercials and was an incredible collaborator. And [author] Peter S. Beagle was not only super supportive of my noir-ish interpretation of his story, but he also made a cameo in it.”
Olson implemented a sentient color palette to enhance both the emotion and action of the film. Warmer shades segue to bluer tones as the film progresses as an indication of danger or when Mattie was scared. Olivia wears a cool blue dress throughout the film while background talent stay within its own specific color spectrum.
Currently, Olson is planning to capture a larger online following for “The Bridge Partner” once the festival circuit is completed. He’s also developing several features and looking for other thriller scripts to direct.
“Throughout my career, I’ve seen the potential of consistently exploring on commercials yet working on longer form in your downtime. There’s benefits to working in both formats, and I’m grateful to have the opportunities to do so.”
For more info on upcoming screenings, please visit: http://www.thebridgepartner.com.