16-year-old Adam Russell of San Diego, California has created "OPIA," one of the most beautiful short films we have ever seen.
What's even more impressive than the fact that he is a high school junior is that "OPIA" is the first production Russell has worked on.
Yes. It's his first film.
The film's strength comes from its beautiful, asymmetric simplicity.
Russell's natural eye for framing compelling shots matched with the contrasts in lighting and location give "Opia" a sublimely rich texture. Russell's cinematography, backed by Bon Iver's song "Wash," lures the audience directly into the world of the two unnamed characters as they drift through the struggle of addiction and love.
Additionally, the film's lack of dialogue creates a depth that was almost lost. The original script called for dialogue, Russell told us in an interview, but as the two-and-a-half week production progressed, "OPIA's" crew "decided that conversation was utterly futile in portraying the story."
In an interview with A Plus, Russell discussed the vision he had for the film and how its title alludes to it.
"The word opia comes from Ancient Greek, meaning 'of the eyes' or 'sight,'" Russell explained.
"In the beginning of the film," Russell told us, "the lead actors look at each other for the first time as sporadic scenes of her struggle with addiction are shown. In this case, the word 'opia' is meant to signify the vulnerability that comes from simple eye contact; the insight that someone can get from just looking at the emotion in someone's eyes."
Blooming with ethereal and evocative scenes, "OPIA" is an intoxicating journey into the gorgeous ephemerality of love in the shadow of addiction...
"OPIA's message is simply that one person's small act of care can save someone from a lifetime of darkness," said Russell.
The film's lighting contrasts create a delicate tension between despair and renewal.
Describing his use of texture and focus, Russell adds that "the scenes involving the female lead struggling with withdrawal are set in a darker atmosphere, while the scenes with both characters are lighter and are supposed to evoke a more hopeful feeling."
We hope you enjoy "OPIA" as much as we did.