Based on novels Ian’s Realm Saga by D.L. Gardner this fifteen minute “plus short film is the broad brush strokes of what a full scale full adaptation of D.L. Gardner’s Ian’s Realm series. Gardner and her collaborators, given the time constraints of the short film form, are unable to touch on every pivotal event in the series but they do an exceptional job of encapsulating the book’s essence or spirit in the brief time allotted. Chris Love’s direction is never heavy handed and displays a sure feel for the source material while cinematographer Tylor Jones does a superb job of aiding our suspension of disbelief and imaging the wilds of Washington state transformed into a land of dragons and magic.
This is a top notch professional effort with polish and style to burn. The short film brings Gardner’s characters and locations to life without straining for effect and her story benefits from a solid cast of performers cast into a variety of roles. Jeffery Stillwell’s turn as the title character hits the mark, but the supporting actors and actresses are equal to their casting. Few of them exhibit any signs or hints of amateur skills and they bring credibility to the material that enhances the viewing experience.
Ian’s Realm enjoys added drama thanks to Jack Berro’s superb musical score. This is an often overlooked or underappreciated component of the film experience, but the right music is even more crucial for epic narratives like this. The music never lapses into melodramatics, however, and the creative minds behind this film show clear discernment about where those moments are placed throughout the film.
The story, even in this truncated form, has a natural evolution and the editing is responsible. Transitions are never jarring and the action scenes are particularly well handled. These moments, among others, generate genuine suspense and hold your attention. The length of the short film hits the right mark – it is neither overlong nor too abbreviated but, as the review discussed in its opening paragraph, provides us with a representative account of the series and a taste of what it can become with even greater resources at their disposal.
Gardner deserves plaudits for pursuing her storytelling vision to its logical end. There is a strong cinematic flavor in the literary counterpart to this work and it translates well over to the medium of film. The obvious care and attention taken with this short film adaptation testifies to the commitment those involved have towards realizing its filmic potential. There are no shortcuts or cheats built into Ian’s Realm – the intensely human qualities emphasized in the series are present in the movie as well and the team involved with this project is skilled practitioners of their chosen art.
This is exactly the sort of short film needed for attracting the attention of studios and major investors. In fact I would characterize Gardner as the next JK Rowling and after immersing myself in her book Ian’s Realm Saga she is clearly cut from the same cloth as C.S Lewis. Having watched the film several times over I kept longing for more than just 15 minutes of film. As a proof of concept presentation Ian’s Realm has no weaknesses whatsoever, and at the Independent film level it’s actually one of the best I’ve ever come across. It’s obvious Ian’s Realm has much in the way of box office potential at an International level and is a diamond in the rough waiting for discovery. It shows how much of the conceptual work regarding the film is already done and there’s likely a wealth of other preparatory behind the scenes work we do not see the results of onscreen. D.L. Gardner’s Ian’s Realm is in excellent hands with this short film version of the tale that brilliantly transcends space and time for all audiences.
by Cyrus Rhodes