September 14, 2014

This Eerily Beautiful Dystopian Short Film, Shot by Chris Doyle, Will Leave You Wanting More

The Sand Storm - Christopher Doyle-Shot Short Film
In the past two years, I have written about quite a few cinematographers. Of that hefty group, few have stolen my heart quite like Hong Kong-based DP Christopher Doyle, whose cinematographic work with legendary director Wong Kar Wai will go down as some of the best in history. A new Doyle-shot short film just so happens to be making its way around the web, and, as you might expect, it looks absolutely fantastic.

The film is called The Sand StormDirected by Jason Wishnow, the short is a self-proclaimed "lo-fi sci-fi" look at a nearby dystopian future in which society is facing rampant water shortages and where technology is as much of a hinderance as it is an asset. Take a look:

Although the story and the structure of the film are a bit of a mess, Wishnow, Doyle, and the production design/art direction team absolutely nailed it in terms of creating a viably dystopian sense of time and place. Of course, it's also easy to see some of Doyle's trademark cinematographic sensibilities. The lighting is sparse and contrasty, but incredibly beautiful. The camera movement lacks the freneticism of much of Doyle's other work, but it interacts with the characters in a way that is unique and compelling. And the compositions, with their symmetrical leanings and use of leading lines, are nothing short of masterful.

Even though the film is definitely not as strong as it could have been, it's nonetheless an intriguing glimpse into a strange world, and it could very well serve as a nice jumping off point for a more fully fleshed-out feature film.     

Your Comment

19 Comments

I have no idea what's going on, and I love it...

September 14, 2014 at 3:33PM

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I think this film is more centred around Ai Weiwei and his political criticism, than typical Doyle cinematography. Btw Doyle shot Weiwei's music clip for "Dumbass".
http://aiweiwei.com/mixed-media/music-videos/dumbass/

September 14, 2014 at 3:43PM

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Yeah, it's definitely a political piece, but it's Doyle's cinematography that makes it worth sharing with this community, especially considering that we've talked about his visual style and artistic philosophy quite a few times before.

September 14, 2014 at 4:50PM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4505

Agree and thanks for sharing! He's my favourite cinematographer, though I think we couldn't expect to see his typical style in such a project. I think the director got funded through Kickstarter and made quite a lot of people angry with the outcome (check the comments in vimeo). But I'm happy every time I see any work from and of Doyle (check the BTS clip). You should write about his "A Way With Words" some day, not very popular I think, but 100% Doyle. Sadly, he didn't make another feature as DP and Director....

September 14, 2014 at 6:43PM

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There is also a btw clip, where Ai Weiwei shaves Doyle's and the Director's hair, half of it actually :)

http://www.wishnow.com/bts.php

September 14, 2014 at 3:55PM, Edited September 14, 3:55PM

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BTS got autocorrected to 'btw'... Would be nice to have the option to edit a comment for such stupid typos.

September 14, 2014 at 4:00PM, Edited September 14, 4:00PM

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great looking piece but... story-wise I dunno. But line up names like Doyle and Ai Weiwei and it's kind of impossible to ignore.

September 14, 2014 at 10:51PM, Edited September 14, 10:51PM

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Raafi Rivero
Director

Very very well done Chris. Love all the elements of the film the effects were awesome

September 15, 2014 at 1:59AM

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Randall Paul
Lead instructor at PFAS ( USA) and AFSA (Italy)
197

I love the storytelling in this short... :D

September 15, 2014 at 2:58AM, Edited September 15, 2:58AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7645

September 15, 2014 at 4:32AM

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Tommaso Fagioli
Project Manager
81

Thanks

September 15, 2014 at 5:22AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7645

I miss the days when Chris was using expired film, available lighting and ultra-wide lenses. Oh, to relive for the first time the magic of "Fallen Angels" and "Chungking express".
For my part, does not feel like digital is quite as expressive a medium for mr. Doyle.

September 16, 2014 at 3:41PM

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Anna Lorentzon
Producer, Director
255

Anyone knows what they used to shoot this? Looks amazing, loved it!!

September 17, 2014 at 10:36AM

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Jan Sicilia
Screenwriter, Director, Editor
81

I was thinking exactly what you wrote. The story was mostly incoherent, but the film was beautiful. I rarely have seen a better-looking short, even though YouTube is saturated with shorts that look similar to this. Someone could certainly make an interesting, relevant movie out of this premise.

September 17, 2014 at 5:11PM

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funny, I was watching 2046 by Wong Kar-Wai just yesterday and one thing is obvious. Not even great cinematographer can save poor direction, screenwrighting and some average acting. Don't be unthinking just because of the names and article title, this is just an average short with good cinematography.

September 18, 2014 at 6:01AM, Edited September 18, 6:01AM

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Martin Hnát
Director
81

Pure lighting porn.

September 18, 2014 at 8:52AM

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Brandon Shafto
Cinematographer
248

Love the look and feel. But you're right story is a mess.

September 18, 2014 at 1:22PM

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Luna Videography
Videographer
597

not even C.D. could not save this nonsense. this is a good example of how multidisciplinary integrated kind of art is cinema. one fails, whole film fails. cinematography is a powerfull tool but as seen in this example editing is more powerfull. bad editing can't compensate for good cinematography. good editing can compensate for bad cinematography. this is one is very bad edited. almost unwachable. just try and do this classic exercise: watch this piece of junk without any sound! sorry for you Christopher Doyle...

September 22, 2014 at 9:24PM

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sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81

does anyone kknow what "editing" means? can you name one hollywood or european film editor? looks like people here think like this: i have nice camera and stuff, I call Christopher Doyle and him and me are filming some actors like this: I tell him to "roll" the camera an shout "action!" to actors. but, I don't really know why, I also have to say at some point, "stop!" or "cut!". well it's because this stupid "cut!" that after all there is in the script was shot I end up with hundreds or thousands (could be just one but that is another story) of video clips. well, let me tell you what any film teacher in the world would say: now begins the construction of the BUILDING with a certain architecture called FILM. all you have at this point are BRICKS! and do not even consider sound, just soundless-video clips. sound can be great ( have you HEARD the killing spree in the Candy mantion from Tarantino's "Django"?) but also wery well can be taken out (have you SEEN the silent film "The Artist"?)

September 22, 2014 at 9:48PM, Edited September 22, 9:48PM

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sorin gociu
Director of Photography
81