Many good stories start in a bar, and Australian filmmaker David Hansen’s short film “Slingshot” — a finalist in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Festival — originated when he observed an English couple at a pub in Spain.
“They were maybe mid-50s, late-50s and they just started getting it on like they were in their 20s just pashing [Australian slang for making out] and giggling and getting drunk,” Hansen told TheWrap.
“I started spinning this idea in my head of the entire journey of a relationship,” he said, “from a courtship, to one person pursuing the other a little bit more, to a romance, to an infidelity, to a break-up, then the threat of lawyers.”
Hansen’s twist was to use child actors and tell a story of first love while still peppering “Slingshot” with conversation ordinarily reserved for grown-ups — including issues of trust and the threat of lawyers.
“First, I need to know if I can trust you,” 10-year-old Tayla (Natasha Thompson) tells her new beau of two minutes, Frankie (Ruaumoko Toatoa).
Upon their break-up, she tells her “ex-husband” that they have to go to court and “promise to hate each other forever now.”
The idea, Hansen said, was to suggest how kids absorb the effects of divorce and other serious adult matters. “These are lines that your average 12-year-old would not be throwing around unless they were exposed to similar situations at home,” he said.
Although the film was influenced by the couple at the bar, Hansen also drew on his recollections of his own parents’ divorce when he was a child.
“All of that background informed the deep themes of this film,” he said. “I was very young when it happened to my parents, but I do remember it and it was also big and serious and I guess there needed to be a process of being able to look back at the humor of it.”
“Slingshot” depicts the entire cycle of a relationship in less than seven minutes through the artful use of concise and to-the-point conversation.
“It’s the craft of dialogue and the interplay with its action that gets it all rolling so fast and smoothly and organically,” Hansen said.
Watch the film above. Viewers can also screen the films at any time during the festival at Shortlistfilmfestival.com and vote from Aug. 9-23.