The Control Master

The Control Master


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is an entertaining little picture, with an amusing little story and pleasant music. It's also an advertisment, plain and simple. While it is in and of itself amusing, its commercial origins work against it.

Commissioned by VEER, a Canadian Visual Elements Agency, it appears to be an animated foray through the Agency's archives. It's almost primitive looking, unsurprising as a historical collection - these are graphic elements drawn from decades of advertising, the same economy of line and colour seen in comic books, an artifact of new reproduction processes, new tastes in advertising.

The film is simple enough. There is a woman with a McGuffin, the titular Control Master. It is stolen from our heroine by the villain, she and an anonymous hero fight to recover it. It is as if it came from a comic of the Fifties or Sixties - indeed, it may well have done so. Director Run Wrake's animation is, one assumes, digital, and so it becomes unclear if the elements involved were scanned or redrawn; if this is a thing entirely of, or inspired by the collection. Knowing it was made with Photoshop and Final Cut Pro isn't quite enough.

One can hardly fault Wrake for taking VEER's money, nor for what he has produced. It is an amusing confection, though it doesn't quite catch. This is an advertisement, modest in its ambitions; nary a Carmina Burana nor a Rutger Hauer in sight. It's not bad, but it's not brilliant. It's also freely available online on Veer's website.* The film is greatly strengthened by Daniel Morgan's music, but weakened somewhat by the presence of what one might call a 'this is a film' layer; the flickers and scratches of film processing can sometimes add veracity by replicating the weaknesses of cinema, like lens flare in a videogame, but sometimes it can grate. The Control Master tends more to the latter than the former. It's studiously artificial, but not, it seems, ironically so.

It was odd to see it in the GFF short films programme, but that was enough to fulfil the promise of the programme's title; it left audiences unstuck. It's not the only film presented in Unstuck that perhaps does not belong in a cinema. That alone makes it interesting enough to watch. In fairness it may just be an amazing piece of placement; rather than buying time to screen an advertisment hoping a target audience will see it, what better than to get a promotion for a product for visual creative types scheduled into a film festival?

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2009
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What happens when a powerful device falls into the hands of scientist-turned-villain Doctor Moire?

Director: Run Wrake

Year: 2008

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2009
GSFF 2017

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