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Fifty Minutes

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A successful therapist must negotiate for his life when a vexed patient draws a pistol

A film focused on communication and perhaps missed interpretations, Paul Schneider’s Fifty Minutes is a tense drama letting viewers unthread the conclusion on their own. Revolving around a desperate man (DJ Qualls) looking for answers and a frightened therapist (Stephen Tobolowsky) looking for solutions, leaves the audience in a delicate position to study the dramatic impulses carried out. While the entire short transpires through a single location, we are impressed with the strong evolution of the storyline through simple dialogue.

This is my first film. It evolved from an interest in mysteries, dark comedy and dramatic thrillers. A personal goal was to create (and maintain) a very intense mood and to refine it through the use of classic cinematic techniques. I didn’t want to use a lot of tricks, but rather build a story and tonality primarily through the use of smart dialog, a singular location, and the great performances by Stephen and DJ. From both a visual and story perspective, we tried very hard to focus on the details of the space and the delivery of information to the audience. Like much of therapy it’s meant to be a duel of the mind, with shifts and turns hinging on ego, desperation, and confidence.

Fifty Minutes is a twenty minutes-intensely dialogue driven film, powered by staggering performances by two familiar faces in Stephen Tobolowsky and DJ Qualls. But their performances come anchored from an impeccable script and a labored visual composition (through setting and direction), where the entire production must be praised – and particular hats-off to director Paul Schneider.

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