Screened at the 30th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (4/5)

Mixing storytelling techniques can be a risky proposition when making a film, but, when they’re fused seamlessly and in the right proportions, they can combine to work some cinematic magic. So it is in director Hunter Hopewell’s debut feature about a student filmmaker who attempts to shoot a feature movie excerpt in a week’s time in order to win a competition awarding a generous production grant. Working with a ragtag filming crew while trying to conceal his efforts from his parents (who push him to give up this “foolish quest” and get a “real” job), the young auteur struggles against a host of production problems and comically insurmountable setbacks. The film successfully blends live action, stop action animation, claymation and a variety of other techniques to create a unique mix that all work together well, often yielding loads of laugh-out-loud moments. While it’s true that the film attempts to fuse a few too many narrative threads and occasionally tries a little too hard to get its laughs, on balance, Hopewell has come up with an entertaining, professionally made and surprisingly touching project on a shoestring budget. If you’re looking for a belly-full of chuckles, check this one out.