Writer-director Tim Mason’s seven-minute short “No Other Way to Say It” started out as something he could make quickly in a familiar location, and ended up changing his career.
The comedic film, one of 12 finalists in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Festival is set in a studio where a harried voiceover artist is trying to record an ice cream commercial. She gets conflicting and baffling notes from the client (“Let’s try this batch with confident ambivalence!”) while also receiving confusing and alarming texts from her mother.
“I was looking to make a short film for my commercial reel, and the production company I work with has that location,” said Mason, who lives in Chicago and has been a Second City performer as well as an actor, writer, director and voiceover artist for close to 15 years.
Finalists Announced for 2017 ShortList Film Festival, Including New Student Category
“I wrote the film for that location, and it’s definitely a world I’m familiar with. I have been everybody in that film other than the guys running the soundboard. I’ve directed commercials and run a few voiceover things, and I’ve been a VO talent and definitely had my share of untraditional and confusing direction coming from clients.”
The B story, he said, was based on his own mother’s trouble with texting, and the trickiest part was to keep everything balanced: “We had to find the right mix of when to be in the booth, and when to be out on the couch with those guys [the clients], when to look at the phone… When I watch it now, I realize how good my editor Mike Berg’s timing is. We have a lot of different balls going on, and he keeps them all up in the air.”
“No Other Way to Say It” won the narrative grand jury prize at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. In its aftermath, Mason said he landed representation in Los Angeles, and is now “pursuing writing and directing jobs and taking meetings” in L.A. “This little film has changed a lot of the trajectory of what I’m doing,” he said.
One additional bonus: It’s made his life easier when he does voiceover work.
“The short got passed around the advertising community,” he said. “And now when I do a voiceover session, people are afraid to give me notes.”