So, until the last fifteen or twenty seconds of Summer ’78, I was going to be rather positive about the short. As it stands, J.C. Reifenberg can compose a shot really well, Don Thiel can shoot and edit really well. Summer ’78 is technically marvelous.
It’s about a special little boy–only we don’t know he’s special yet–playing with his Star Wars toys. The short’s under five minutes, but the way Reifenberg paces it, there’s not just a narrative to the boy’s home movie of his toys’ adventure, there’s enough time to dwell on the action figures. Summer ’78 incorporates the actual Star Wars music (which probably should have forecasted the eventual “twist”) and it has a fantastic feel to it.
Unfortunately, it’s not a musing about being a child who played with Star Wars figures and grew up invested in the franchise because it had engaged so much youthful imagination. No, instead, Summer ’78 is about sucking up. It’s a great job resume and I hope it gets Reifenberg a job–and especially Thiel.
But the Internet’s full of original Star Wars toy commercials; watching them is embracing their commercialism. Summer ’78 blows its chance to do something different. It just does it with good filmmaking.
Written and directed by J.C. Reifenberg; photographed and edited by Don Thiel; production designers, Ellyn Miller, Reifenberg, Matthew Rowbottom, Tara Shane and Jen Smith; produced by Matthew Rowbottom and James Arnold Taylor.
Starring Hunter Leon (Boy).