Tackle despair with Liam Petite’s new short ‘Five Pounds of Pressure’
Despair is a powerful human emotion. It can drive people to make terrible decisions, or perhaps even mistakes that they will regret for the rest of their lives. It can bring about desperation, and allow decent people to act out in ways they never thought possible. This fragile space is where the new film Five Pounds of Pressure sets it’s focus.
Five Pounds of Pressure tells the story of a despondent man (Kevin Jollimore) who parks on the side of the road with a gun and a single bullet. As he contemplates taking his own life, a female hitchhiker (Ella Grace) holds him at knifepoint and demands that he drive her out of town. Caught off guard by the demand, the man discovers another way of doing away with his miserable existence, and the hitchhiker isn’t going to like it.
The film is directed by Liam Petite, who flirted with several versions of the story before arriving at his stripped-down final product. Petite said he was fascinated by the idea of two lost souls colliding with one another at a crucial point, and he elevated the tension when he decided that the car would never move. “How can you get the most out of this story with two people sitting inside a confined melting pot and which of these two would make it out alive?”, he posited. “Thus taking it back to the practicality and efficiency of a theatrical stage play.”
Mise en scene, or the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a story, plays a huge role in the effectiveness of the film. The viewer is encouraged to pay attention to everything that the driver and the hitchhiker touch and say, lest they miss a crucial clue as to the shocking ending. Petite is basically forcing the viewer into the role of detective, which enhances not only the mystery but the activeness of the viewing experience itself. The best thrillers are the ones that reward repeat viewings, and Petite is very conscious of this. “Follow this by an unexpected ending that makes audiences say ‘I have to watch that again’ or ‘I need to see more’,” he explained.
Five Pounds of Pressure has done very well with audiences and critics alike. It screened at the Montreal Independent Film Festival, where it won Best Independent Canadian Film and Best Canadian Narrative Short. It also took home Best Short and Best Thriller at the Falcon International Film Festival.
Liam Petite’s passion for cinema started at a young age. He spent time on Canadian movie sets as a child, and he eventually graduated from the Centre for Arts and Technology with a degree in Digital Filmmaking. After graduation, he honed his skills by working on corporate films, music videos, the TV series The Book of Negroes.
Petite’s career was thrown into disarray, however, when the NS film tax credits were taken away and Nova Scotia’s film industry was stranded. He took the bad luck and turned it into a positive by stepping back and choosing to focus on what he loves: telling stories.
Petite filmed an alternate ending to Five Pounds of Pressure that will serve as the trailer for the feature version. He has not yet announced when he plans to begin work on said feature, but given his talent and his tenacity, we expect to see it sooner than later.