The premise of ZIGGY’S WILL is about two sordid individuals ending up in a sheriff’s office together, where it is revealed they are actually related. There is a bitter relationship between Robbie, a failed actor, and his jaded, drug-addicted step-mother Gail, who are racing to claim an inheritance worth millions. With limited time on their hands, they need to work quickly and resourcefully to get out and win over the inflexible sheriff.
The short is shot beautifully, with the setting emulating a southern US county and the warm hues of the jailhouse illuminating the furious expressions of the incarcerated. The protagonists are well developed in a short running time: there is an evident, powerful dynamic between the two that is both humorous yet ruthless. Robbie is played by Peter Malone Elliott, who wrote the film based on his personal experiences. He delivers a sharp performance of an arrogant character. His step-mother Gail is played by the lauded Michele Santopietro, whose experience in Law and Order and The Sopranos undoubtedly contributed to her performance. She is captivating in her attempts to plead with the sheriff, with the half-light of the cell highlighting a face that has been worn by life.
The narrative has definite potential, being only a segment of a 90-page script, with a unique concept and clear ability to develop the characters further. The language is perhaps unnecessarily crude at the start, with the main characters’ distaste for each other being evident by their actions alone. However, it certainly makes the conflict clear from the beginning, off-set by the no-nonsense attitude of Stephanie Jones’ Sheriff Rimes. It is not a new plot concept to the world of film and television, but it was directed and filmed in a way that hints to something more, and one may believe that it provides a foundation to a wonderful progression.
We spoke with the producer, Jared Selcer, before and after the screening. He told us about how the film came to bloom, the workings behind it and their hopes for the future. He swept over with a typically charming LA demeanour and provided us with plentiful details. ZIGGY’S WILL was shot over one month in 2017, which required three and a half days of shooting, including a commercial which produced a few chuckles from the audience. The film was presented at the Manchester Film Festival with a warm reception, and equally impressively made its way here to Cannes, which is no mean feat considering the level of competition this year. He had an eager enthusiasm for the film, which is matched by the director Alexander Sharp’s comment on the positive working relationship between them and the writer. Sharp, Elliott and Selcer had met during their time in college while attending Loyola Marymount University. Before the screening, they met with other audience members and thanked them for being there, and came across as genuinely nice individuals who had worked hard on this piece. They are looking to push forward with other festivals potentially, and give ZIGGY’S WILL the coverage it deserves, perhaps into an excellent feature in the future.