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The Independent Critic

Written and Directed by
Philip M. Magcalas
John Depew, Allen McRae, Cassandra Meyer, Shaun Butler, Philip M. Magcalas
Running Time
35 Mins.

 "Skin and Bone" Review 
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Grassroots filmmakers are you paying attention? If you've ever caught yourself using the excuse "I don't have enough money to put together a decent film," then "Skin and Bone," a 35-minute drama written and directed by Philip M. Magcalas is exhibit A for you to watch.

Filmed on a modest $500 budget and featuring an all-volunteer cast and crew, "Skin and Bone" is a Robert Altman style film that follows the intertwined lives of a group of healthcare professionals and patients inside a prestigious cardiac cath lab where everyday life doesn't stand still while life and death decisions are going on virtually every hour of every day.

Dr. Bradley Lindemann (John Depew) is the lab's medical director, an expert known throughout the world for his knowledge and innovation while being equally as known throughout the hospital for his gruff exterior and not so pleasant bedside manner. Tom (Allen McRae) and Michelle (Cassandra Meyer) are the unit's new cardiovascular techs while researcher Anthony (Shaun Butler) has come on this particular day to follow a not so hospitable Dr. Lindemann. The cast of over 30 includes doctors and nurses, techs and ancillary staff, patients and even a few outside the confines of the lab itself.

As the day unfolds, the lives of staff and patients alive will be changed in ways big and small. Tomorrow will be more of the same.

Inspired by his own professional stint working in a cath lab, Magcalas has crafted an honest, authentic and emotionally satisfying short film that transcends its modest budget on the strength of Magcalas's insightful script and his equally insightful ensemble cast. While there's no denying that there are moments where the film's budgetary constraints are rather obvious, especially where the sound mix is concerned, the distractions are minimal thanks to the non-sensationalistic style in which the film is shot.

"Skin and Bone" was winner of the Best Comedy or Drama (Over 30 Minutes) at the COMMFFEST Community Film Festival in Toronto, and received its world premiere at the Rainier Independent Film Festival while also being named a "Pick of the Week" at the Boston Globe.

"Skin and Bone" benefits from stellar original music by Jason Rozen and Elijah Ebenezer Wyman, while Magcalas's camera work is inventive with only a few very brief transitional scenes losing temporary focus. As is not at all uncommon in ultra-low budget films, the editing is a touch off at times but this is only a minor distraction.

Copies of "Skin and Bone" are available on the Milk and Cookie Productions
website for a mere $7.95 including shipping, with a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the film designated to benefit Partners in Health as part of Haiti relief efforts.