A Day With Dad had its world premiere at California's Indie Night Film Festival on 2/10/18 and with a timely, powerful message and social relevance this low-budget short film looks like it could have a lengthy festival run.
Directed by Ryan Hope Travis and co-written by Christina Gaspardi and Mark Anthony Hackett, A Day With Dad introduces us to Jarron (Trenton Lucas), a young man whom we meet as he begins a classroom assignment describing one particularly memorable day that he spent with his father, Jay (played by Hackett). As we're drawn into his story, we learn that this day in particular involves Jarron's first time ever meeting his father, whose years of incarceration haven't squelched his paternal spirit and desire to be the father he's never been.
To describe any further what unfolds in this dramatic, heartbreaking 18-minute short would be an incredible shame. While the story itself is predictable from early on in the film, the ways in which the story runs parallel alongside the equally challenging experiences of 16-year-old Chad (Jack Dean), are authentically played out even if you can see most of it unfolding a mile away.
While the entire ensemble cast of A Day With Dad is strong, the film unquestionably rests on the able shoulders of its two young actors and, quite fortunately, they're both up to the task. Trenton Lucas's endearing and achingly vulnerable performance is the kind of performance that you can't help but find absolutely devastating, his youthful presence brimming with innocence yet his voice quivering with pain and longing. It's a tremendous performance that you won't likely shake easily.
While on the surface Jack Dean may be tasked with the more accessible character, that of an angry young man acting out in immature ways, Dean nicely layers the performance and shows us enough substance underneath Chad that one can't help but experience mixed emotions along the way.
The supporting players are strong as well, most notably Mark Anthony Hackett as Jay, the long absent father who wants to make up for lost time. Hackett quickly draws us into Jay's humanity, his past always present but his human experience becoming far more important as the story plays out. It's a tremendous performance that had me examining my own pre-judgments and expectations.
The music by Chris Hines and Alton James is nicely used throughout the film, while Travis lenses the film himself and shows that a low budget isn't always an obstacle to effective storytelling and filmmaking. While the story itself is familiar, Hackett and Christina Gaspardi have handled beautifully the difficult task of giving each of their characters dignity and substance while telling a valuable, necessary story that you won't soon forget.
For more information on A Day With Dad, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic