Imaginative Short Film 'Waste' Brings Our Inner Monsters to Life

The production teams over at Studioset and WAO bring us Waste, a short film that is half Soviet montage and half pop-up book. Its approach to cinematography is a dreamlike reality, but that description doesn't seem to suffice when describing the juxtaposition of dull and vibrant, dead and alive, and active and inactive. Director Anton Groves and his crew light up the dreary world of their protagonist's life with colorful "monsters", representing his wastefulness, that unfold like a pop-up book to reveal the monsters within.

The film follows Dan, played by Mihai Stanescu, a wasteful and absent-minded fellow, as he goes about his daily routine: going to the bathroom, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to work. Yet, every thing he does is somehow wasteful, and because of this out pop the "monsters." A woman's voice narrates throughout the entire duration and adds insight as to what these florid creatures are. Eventually, Dan meets and falls in love with a woman, played by Ana Ularu, whom we find out is the narrator, and -- well, take a look for yourself:

WAO is a collective of directors based in Bucharest, Romania and London. It's made up of Anton Groves, Damian Groves, and Richard Hardy, who are the in-house directors for the production studio Studioset, which is also based in Bucharest.

The filmmakers do something incredible with this film, which is something that I tend to gravitate toward in films I watch over and over again: the symbiotic relationship between realism and fantasy -- of a realistic story and fantastical imagery (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, Amélie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). Dan doesn't do anything incredible or interesting. In fact, he doesn't do much at all, other than get ready, go to work, and spill some coffee on the floor. Films that don't draw a whole lot of attention to plot -- antiplot, miniplot, or some variant of them (think Suburbia or Empire Records) -- are particularly interesting to me, because they tend to use all of that energy toward other things: character development, cinematography, and, like in the case of Waster, creating hidden "monsters" that represent wastefulness.

The other thing that was striking to me was the montage, which seemed to be taken right out of Eisenstein's playbook (if he had one -- he doesn't). We learn a lot about Dan from the editing alone: the shot of him getting out of bed looking completely haggard to the shot of him drunk at a club, the shot of him peeing into his toilet to the shot of him drinking water from the faucet -- figuratively pissing precious resources (like water) away.

He's a young man with all the traits of a "modern waster", and Groves manages to get his point across about society's bad habit of wasting resources without being overbearing. It's light and playful, yet beautifully poignantly -- especially in the final shot of the woman going into her boudoir. Now that's a shot I can watch again and again.

What do you think about Waste? Do you want to make your own monsters? Follow the link to Studioset's website to download PDFs of the monsters to print out and assemble yourself! (Don't worry -- there are videos tutorials to show you how to do each one.)


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Fun. Real amalgam of practical effects! Expected CFX, and I they were, well, I'm equally amazed.

Really excellent job! Thanks for he head's up! One thing though... Why was her shoe closet/monster a vagina? I didn't particularly notice his many creatures being weiner'd.

April 13, 2013 at 6:51AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Because it is one of those "clever" films that, beneath the "fresh and edgy" veneer, still is very much part of the dominant message. His monsters are varied and each fit their environment and his character upholds the "men as slobs" stereotype. Her "monster" is her vagina, and her "waste" is her boudoir, a trope that is all too common in male media. Despite her narration, the short is very much a man's story, promoting the big boys to live like "men" and fantasizing about the ideal women who love them for it. If anything, "Waste" does not chastise waste, it rewards the lifestyle of its protagonist and paints women as the ever servile "other", upholding age old gender roles. She likes that he's wasteful and the "Man's Castle" text so blatantly shoved into our faces confirms the filmmaker's bias. It equalizes his actual wasteful behavior with a woman's vanity, calling them both monsters, the latter undeservedly. But hey, paper monsters, production value!

April 15, 2013 at 9:23AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I couldn't agree more with you Cary. From the first couple of sentences from the voice over narration on the movie I began to suspect it was going to be YET ANOTHER story of men fantasizing about that woman who will save them form themselves, basically marrying their mom.
It is trite and sexist and while the paper monsters are truly gorgeous the message is at home with the saddest of gender-driven advertisements.
The fact that this repulsively sexist short film is praised without reservations or criticism makes your point about how pervasive and prevalente the male gaze is in our world.
Going further into the Vimeo account where the video originated you can find out that this is a studio with a history of advertisement of the sexist kind with even racist undertones as this other clip they produced. I don't know Romanian but it sounds to me they say the word "caramel" as the non-white lady shows up onscreen. Classic exoticification and otherisms:

April 16, 2013 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Sometimes the sigare is only sigare. Personally, I do not believe in gender, it's only sex models for me. But you got a point about two sharpness of illusion your own perfection, whatever XX or XY chromasomes you have. It's the same problem, as myth of "free will" or equality in bad sence. Feminine and masculine sub-spieces are both wrong. Callocagathy is the key in inner sence, but it's also works in relationship.

Fresh-trash, will send the link to Russian selectors.

April 18, 2013 at 2:29AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM