“El Empleo” by Santiago Bou Grasso

El Empleo, created by Santiago Bou Grasso from Argentina, is a five-minute film that I feel should be about three minutes long. Usually, I find this an inexcusable crime on the part of the filmmaker, one of the cardinal sins of making a short film (to me it shows a lack of respect to the viewer and a lack of self-awareness on the part of the filmmaker). But, in the case of El Empleo, I still like the core idea a lot and find the film recommendable despite my issues with its pacing. It’s got a clever hook, and the filmmaker explores his idea thoroughly and structures it well.


  • Jay Sabicer

    I’d have to agree, it could’ve been a bit tighter, although I could think of two reasons why Grasso padded it out: 1) he wanted to convey the tedious nature of each person’s job, the seemingly endless waiting to be utilized; or 2) being funded by a government entity, there was probably a requirement to have the film come in at 6 minutes total length, and the gags had run out.

    I liked the remark at the end of the credits, but won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched it yet.

  • http://www.nomorekings.com pete mitchell

    i agree, jay. i think the pacing had to match the sentiment: the dull tedium of being an object for your occupation.

    my only real problem with it was the elevator gag. i think by that point in the short, the audience sees the elevator and is like ‘ooh. i wonder how he’s going to solve this.’ i would have rather seen a tower of men handing the elevator box up to each other. or something like that. the fat guy didn’t seem like the best solution. but that’s me being pretty nit-picky.

    all in all, i think it was a great little short. a nice social commentary (i think of this sentiment ever time i see a human sign holder for subway), and it was very well animated.

    -pete

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    I was an editor for many years and contend that almost every film ever made is too long.

  • http://pixeltoon.com Gina Kamentsky

    Funny, viewed this at Ottawa last year . There was a flurry of really really long 15 minute+ “shorts” and this seemed by comparison….short.

  • Amaury

    The pace suited the theme of the piece.

  • Grimmy

    It’s a backhanded compliment to praise the idea while bitching about its pacing.
    I tried to watch it it without the prejudice imposed by the introduction, and quite enjoyed it.
    It didn’t need to be a breakneck sleigh-ride.
    Kudos to the filmmaker(s).

  • http://twitter.com/dansicle DN

    I thought the pacing was nearly perfect. (The stop light scene being the only thing that stood out to me as not perfectly in step.)

  • http://www.meinardas.lt Meinardas

    Great idea. Animation is slowly, but very good.

  • J

    I thought the length and pacing was just fine. Great short.

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    Clever piece… I absolutely love all of their beady little eyes.

  • http://www.animationmagazine.eu/ Daniel Todoran-Rares

    Super :)

  • brak

    I think it is overwhelmingly respectful for a filmmaker to challenge and put faith in their audience.

  • top cat james

    I wonder who has to be the toilet!

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    Beautiful piece!! I love the subtle humour.

    I didn’t have a problem with “pacing” at all. The design fits the pacing real well.

    And to Gina: You’re right, many of Ottawa’s films WERE too long.

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    You get the timing of the short if you have a cubicle job, when you’re always in a mixture of consciousness and slumber.

    I think it was a brilliant film. Quino would be proud of you, Santiago —that’s about the best compliment I can make to a person, BTW :)

  • http://www.adamoliver.com Adam Oliver

    I saw this at Annecy and it stuck in my mind as one of my favourites. I think far too many short films are rushed, trying to ‘sell’ there idea without taking the time to create a believable world.

    I thought this was spot on. It suited the idea well, and the monotony of the workplace. I really got the chaps’ mood from it.

    I made a film myself which was too long, and so I know what it must be like to do that. But I think it therefore takes more skill to pull off something which gives the audience time to think.

  • http://www.candlelightstories.com Alessandro Cima

    No. Almost every film ever made is too short. The idea that the editing makes the film is total falsehood originally perpetrated by Sergei Eisenstein. There is never disrespect toward an audience from too little editing. The problem is quite the reverse. When you speed up your idea or your expression, you are insulting the attention span and the intellectual rigor of your audience. Speed is for fools who only want to laugh.

    If you think cartoons are funny, get out of the business.

  • http://www.frankrause.com/franimation/ Fran Krause

    I agree with PES on the editing here. It’s a funny film. Looking at it from a comedic standpoint, I want to leave a shot once the punchline has been delivered. This film drags it out. It’s like this:

    Film: Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Me: I don’t know.
    Film: To get to the other side!
    Me: HAHAHA!
    Film: Because that’s how the chicken’s reasoning works!
    Me: Yeah, I get it-
    Film: The chicken is simple-minded, as chickens tend to be!
    Me: Please get to the next joke.

    Now, looking at it as an artsy film, sure, why not make it long and slow? Artistic films are usually long and slow, right? Well, the content isn’t suited for an artistic, slow film. The message is serious and deep, but since there’s no character development, every character is an “everyman”, and each shot is constructed around a single joke. Slow shots leave us to look at deadpan & expressionless characters for way too long. It’s a film made by a jokey animator and an art-house editor, and the two styles don’t compliment each other.

    I think the reactions here have a lot to do with animators not wanting to hear that they need help from editors, but it’s true. They serve a very important purpose.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I didn’t think it was that badly paced. The mundane quality and stuffiness of the piece help to show what kind of world this is, let alone leave us asking questions concerning why are all these people being these things or what kind of job does the main character have? It’s obvious he’s been at this for quite a long while so it’s all routine and meant to suggest the utter boredom of it all, and the ending is quite ironic and well-done, I felt that was all it had to be. The elevator gag could’ve been worked a little better.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    I agree with Fran and disagree with Alessandro.

  • http://twitter.com/dansicle DN

    I’m not an animator, just an enthusiast. So no professional angles here. If you’re expecting this to be a ‘funny film’, maybe the pacing’s too slow for you. But you’re not really letting the film do it’s thing. You’re pigeon-holing it, and, in my estimation, not well. (‘Joke’ vs. ‘humor’.)

  • http://bibi.org/box Bibi

    Alessandro, I agree that Eisenstein was genius. I have been a huge fun of his films for many years, but I have to disagree with you about cartoons not being funny. I think there is space for all kind of films, even not being a fan of films that insult my intelligence, as several teen movies and blockbuster films.

    I watched El Empleo last year, during Anima Mundi. It’s a nice animation and I enjoyed the idea. Unfortunately the film is no longer available on YouTube.

  • http://www.candlelightstories.com Alessandro Cima

    I now agree with every critical comment made about this film. Yes, it’s too slow – as if made for morons. And I detest filmmakers who take their films off of YouTube. I resent them and think that they are deluded hacks who imagine million dollar bank accounts if they can just get that YouTube file removed. Okay, Mr. Grasso, we won’t show your film. We won’t blog it. We won’t link to it. So sorry to have put you out. Good luck selling your DVD. Darn, now I have this big blank box in my blog post about you. A door to nowhere. It’s like an abandoned lot in Detroit somewhere. Now I have to delete the entire post and pretend that I never found your film.

    Whatever.

  • Patricio Plaza

    The film is now online at the following link:
    http://www.arte.tv/fr/Videos-sur-ARTE-TV/2151166,CmC=2697838.html

    You should consider that making independent animation in Latin America isn’t easy at all. The only way to get some funding to go on making films is by festivals diffusion, and unfortunately some festivals require exclusivity (this is, avoiding the online diffusion of the film).
    You should consider that some of us have to make films with money from our own pockets, and that’s quite hard.
    So try to be a little more considered next time, and think that not everyone lives and works under the same circumstances than you do.
    Thanks.

  • Patricio Plaza

    BTW, I’m Patricio Plaza, from Argentina, co-creator of El Empleo.

  • kkoval

    For those who feel the pacing was too slow, I’m wondering if you’re thinking of the story as solely a buildup to a punchline kind of joke. Yeah the ending is funny, but there is so much more to this story than the ending. I think the pacing is specifically part of the story, the long moments of emotionless faces with only occasional blinking… as someone else mentioned, the tedium of it all, the meaninglessness of everyone’s job… I think one of the most powerful moments is not even when you realize he’s a doormat, but the long exasperated sigh as he lies there and accepts his role.

    The pace that the film uses is such a HUGE part of the story, to suggest that it be edited down to a faster pace is missing the point of the film entirely.