No Place to Fall (2017) [Dances with Films 2017]

Normally, this reviewer covers films, short and feature lengths, but this time and exception was made and a pilot for a hopeful TV series is being reviewed.  Why the exception to this old curmudgeon’s habits?  The short film “Survivor Type” by the same director was absolutely fantastic so viewing and reviewing more of his work had to happen.

“No Place to Fall” follows “aging” musician Roland Park as he teaches, writes, and performs music, hoping to make it big someday.  While he reaches for his dreams, his pregnant keeps them afloat and supports him as best she can.  In the city of Angels, many musicians come to make their dreams come true and a rare few actually make it.

Written and directed by Billy Hanson, the pilot shows a lot of potential in terms of the story developed and its music world setting.  The characters created are relatable and are people one can care about with the exception of a couple potentially bad apples, but every tv show has to have those.  The lead is written as a charming, talented, very hopeful man amidst a series of rejects and failure.  His character carries the pilot and makes this viewer want to see more of him.  The rest of the characters are interesting, especially a young, starting out singer ready to do what it takes to make it.  She’s bubbly and gives the impression that her character could evolve in many directions.

The cast here is fairly small which keeps the story intimate with performances that really matter as each spends a good amount of time on screen.  In the lead of Roland Park is Jonathan Stoddard does fantastic work, giving the impression that this is his dream, that he wants to be a recording artist, and that he will keep fighting until her gets what he wants.  His interpretation of the character is charming and vulnerable at times, giving an insight into the life, mind, and heart of an artist trying to survive on their art alone.  In the part of the young singer who is just beginning and ready to fight, Jayna Sweet is bubbly, adorable, and shows her character’s fighter side as well as her passion for what she does.  She and Stoddard show two different ages for hopeful singers.   Their duality and connection work in a way that shows two sides of the business while also simply being about the same business at different ages and for different sexes.  Their relationship and the contrast between how each of them go about making their musical dreams come true should make for an interesting series.

This pilot is shot in a way that makes it look ready for cable television or perhaps for an online platform, with cinematography by Michael Lockridge who has a style that works for the story and the general feel of things.  Here the images match the music which is full of emotions and is like an extra character in the pilot.  The images are well shot, look good, and don’t shy away from what is going on, even though it is not super heavy (yet?).  The music itself is nice and mellow with thoughtful lyrics and performances.

No Place to Fall is one of those pilots that makes you want to see more of the show and of its protagonists, particularly of Roland who has much more riding on his dream of becoming a successful recording artist.  The story here is one that should touch many as the dream and drive can be transferred to just about any other dream one may have for a career.  After watching No Place to Fall, it is no surprise it won big at Dances with Films last weekend.