“From the Projector” Review


Kendall Milligin

Yes, I was late to the premiere of “From the Projector” directed by Nolan Ekberg, a sophomore here at Rocklin High School, but the point is that I still made it. The scent of popped popcorn led me to the lobby and although I had arrived late, a bag of popcorn was still available and greeted me. May I say, supplying the audience with this universally favored snack was a smart move, not only was it an incentive, it got the audience in the “movie mood”.

 I found my friends and sat next to them, prepared for the hyped film I had heard about over and over again for the past couple of months. Nolan introduced himself to the crowd and thanked the audience for coming to support his film. The start up was slightly delayed due to some technical difficulties, even though this was obviously not planned, the extra time built the buzz of anticipation in the theater. We were ready and excited to see this production.

The schedule was announced; the film would be played, a Q&A would follow, then the event would end with the audience meeting the actors or talking to the producers. The lights dimmed – it was showtime. I had a mission to accomplish, a review had to be made. 

Oh right, I forgot to warn you, there are spoilers ahead so if you plan on seeing the short film yourself on your own time, then leave now. Yes, I mean right now. Well, now that they’re gone, let’s get this thing started. 

Color filled the pitch black room as the short film was projected onto the screen, introducing the title; “From the Projector” and the director, Nolan Ekberg. The first scene opens to a bed-ridden man, saying his final goodbyes to a young boy sitting beside him. 

As the man reaches for the boy’s hand, the boy unexpectedly moves his hand away from the dying man, bringing a mix of emotion and confusion into the mind of the viewer. My attention had been caught, emotions surfaced, and curiosity filled my mind of what I was about to watch.

The same boy, now introduced to us as Mateo, is then shown at a funeral. The tension was so thick in this scene that you could cut it with a knife. Mateo had been flashing back to the day the man passed away, his eyes glassy but snaps back to reality. 

The young boy is given a very socially awkward character type which serves to make scenes that would be unnerving, even more so. This  particular, painful to watch, archetype was shown to the audience through his constant rambling and stuttering. 

However, this scene also helps to show the audience that Mateo has no idea how to deal with the loss of his uncle. Through a speech Mateo gives during the funeral, the audience is given a connection between the older man and the boy, exposing that they were family. Many flashbacks of Uncle Jack and Mateo occur during the speech, one of which is a memory from when Mateo was a child and Jack helped him get dressed for a funeral.

As the speech goes on, Mateo admits that no one else was put down for a speech, so he was the only option for the service. He asks the crowd how they are doing and is answered with dead silence. In an attempt to give honest feedback – unfortunately, this small portion of the film caused me to brainstorm better alternatives in the writing. 

The beginning of the scene was set up very nicely and flowed very well, however, it became quite unrealistic towards the end of the scene which formed a disconnect for me as a viewer. The members of a funeral service would sympathize with the speaker and even give a small chuckle if a joke was made to relieve tension and reassure the speaker. 

Also, I feel a few jokes were strung out much further then they really should have been. Keep in mind, I realize this is a student film, and with it comes a low budget and a lack of cast members.

As the film goes on, flashbacks greet the audience as Mateo continues to narrate his relationship and memories with his Uncle Jack. First, we are welcomed to a memory of Mateo receiving a digital camera for his birthday from his uncle, and music is cued. The music ties the scene together perfectly, attaching emotion and allowing the audience to reminisce with Mateo about his loss. 

The memory allows Uncle Jack to shine and show his character –  a sweet, humorous man who is family-oriented and values his relationship with his nephew Mateo over much of his life.

 As the speech continues, Mateo’s admiration towards Jack is revealed and allows him to express his true emotions about his uncle. Once Mateo begins to reflect on past memories and the time spent with Jack, his childhood floods back into his conscious.

More flashbacks occur with multiple scenes that give the audience an insight on what Jack and Mateo’s relationship looked like. A common passion resonated between the two – the love of filming. During these flashbacks, Mateo tends to speak to the viewers rather than addressing the people attending the funeral, personalizing each story or memory and including the audience in this journey through a relationship. 

The flashback of Uncle Jack in bed that was once shown in the beginning of the film reemerges into the film, allowing more context and detail to be exposed to the viewers. Mateo is filled with emotion when the flashbacks come to an end and he begins to fall apart in front of the people attending the funeral, leaving him vulnerable and susceptible. 

The screen went black and with the build up of anticipation once again, a silhouette of Mateo’s body lit by a projector greeted the audience. The projector played more intimate memories of Uncle Jack and Mateo, but this time representing a visit through older memories in Mateo’s subconscious, which was smoothly portrayed through his love of filming. 

The flashbacks displayed were all very well made and truly showed the break down of Mateo’s feelings of his uncle. He walks toward the screen and holds his hand up onto his Uncle’s hand projected on the screen and then is brought back into the present time. He simply ends the speech as well as the film saying “the end”. 

Overall, this film was fantastic. I would easily recommend it to anyone because of how it appeals to all groups of people. Nolan directed and wrote this short film so intricately and it shows how much time and effort he put into his project to make sure it was well produced. The talent he has is shown through every technique, every scene, every line spoken by the characters.

 There were few parts that I disliked or could have pictured being greater, for a low budget film made by a teenager, it holds extreme value and is a great start as a younger person. 

Only improvement in directing and filming can follow this film for Nolan and I am truly excited to see what he produces next, it’s an honor on my part to know him and say that I reviewed his film. I mean, he made my job easy here, so Nolan if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! Give “From the Projector” a view if you haven’t yet on Nolan’s YouTube channel, we left a link for you to check it out.

Nolan’s Channel