Let’s break down the short film Pitch Black Heist: Suspense, thrills, intrigue? Yes. High stakes drama? You bet. World-class crazily handsome and compelling actor? Oh, for sure. That all this is delivered into a lean, gleaming, 14-minute short film — soon to make its New York debut at the Tribeca Film Festival — makes it all the more impressive.
Not to mention its star studded cast, which in addition to Michael Fassbender features Liam Cunningham (best known as Ser Davos Seaworth on HBO’s Game of Thrones). Both men play thieves, assigned to a job that will require them to complete their task in complete — some may say pitch black — darkness. “One of my favorite films is Rififi, this 1950s heist film where there’s a stretch where they can’t make a sound. When I watched it a few years ago I thought it would be good to do it pitch black with sound. Plus it’s cheap,” says director (and former Beta Band member) John Maclean. The Scottish filmmaker and artist says he worked nine months on the script, tinkering with it in order to make it “cement tight,” and then shot three days in a pub and warehouse in London.
“I wrote it with Michael in mind,” says Maclean, whose collaboration with Fassbender dates back to before the X-Men star’s rocket rise to stardom. “He was shooting [Inglourious Basterds] at the time and was already quite busy, but he was still up for it,” says the director. An introduction from a mutual friend resulted in the 2009 short — shot on Maclean’s mobile phone — Man on Motorcycle.
Pitch Black Heist has already won plenty of accolades, including the 2012 BAFTA for best short film. Take a look at the clip below — which is not in total darkness, but instead shows the men relaxing in a pub and lip synching to Teresa Brewer’s 1960 song, “If There Are Stars In My Eyes.“
(And for fellow fans, John Maclean is at work writing his first feature-length film.)
The Tribeca Film Festival runs in New York from April 18-29.