What Jack Built is Matthew Mahler’s short film from 2015 starring actor Timothy J. Cox as a man who I can only describe as an aspiring mad scientist type of guy. It is essentially a silent film with a score that really pulls the piece together, building tension when it is most apt, and providing some relief when needed.
The lead and only performances here came from the man who sent me these shorts in the first place. Timothy J. Cox provided an entertaining performance that meant the ten minutes spent viewing this film flew by pretty quickly. He totally nailed the mad scientist/boy who never grew up thing! All the time I spent watching him, I thought he could so easily have been a young lad who was just playing around in his treehouse or woodland den. For me, this is what made the short such good watching.
Now, I can’t not mention the score for this piece. The soundtrack was composed by the film’s writer and director, Matthew Mahler, and it would certainly seem to me that he is a man of many talents. The reason the concept of this short worked so well was because of the music that accompanied it. It may be a long shot to say this, but for me, the music is up there with the Jaws score when it comes to tension building. There were a few shots where I was drawing similarities from the 1975 classic with regards to how well the score complemented the rest of the piece.
What Jack Built is another wonderful example of what you can do with a basic idea and about ten minutes’ worth of footage. Again, it is a film a would recommend to anyone contemplating creating their own short as it provides a good example of the kinds of ideas you can work with when you have only the bare bones of a film set and production crew. This would be an idea that could so easily be scaled back for first-time filmmakers, which is why I would say to spare ten minutes for it.
All in all, What Jack Built is a well-coordinated short film that builds tension brilliantly as a result of the coordination between actor and score. The concept is a unique one, and leaves quite a few questions unanswered by the time the end credits start rolling. I would definitely urge you to see this if you are an aspiring filmmaker, or just fancy seeing the early stages of a career belonging to a writer, director or even composer who could one day be a name of some significance in film.