Independent filmmakers face a specific set of challenges when it comes to creating biographical short films. They must capture an audiences attention in a small amount of time while remaining true to the original details and events that took place. This can be a tall order for filmmakers with limited budgets and resources for production materials.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised with Jared Elkin’s new short, Becoming Lucy, that tells of the origin of the great American sit-com, I Love Lucy. For those readers who've been living under a rock for the last 60 years, I Love Lucy remains one of the most syndicated sitcoms in television history, with an American viewership totaling nearly 40 million annually. The show was voted "Best TV Show of All Time" in a survey by ABC News and People Magazine, and Lucille Ball was voted "Greatest TV Star of All Time" by TV Guide.
The first thing to jump out at me was the precision of the actors’ performances. Alexis Nichols wonderfully captures the nuances of Lucille Ball’s personality, both in her recreation of the television performance as well as in her “behind the scenes” discussion of how it all began. By the end of the film I had all but forgotten I was watching Nichols and not Ball.
However, the real magic of Becoming Lucy is in it’s obsessive attention to detail. Ayaka Kuramoto, the film’s lead production designer, describes the challenges of recreating the set pieces of the original “Vitameatavegamin” episode from I Love Lucy. “My goal was to emphasize the design elements that would have the most significant visual impact rather than attempt to duplicate the set entirely. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.”
Jared Elkin, also known for German Autumn and Esteem, constructs a tight and rewarding story in Becoming Lucy. Though the film runs for a brief 19 minutes, the impressive acting and stunning production design makes Becoming Lucy well worth the watch, as viewers can easily lose themselves in the timeless history of the subject matter.