A pair of Upper West Siders teamed up to make a short film about short filmmaking … or as it describes itself, “a short film that insults and derides the very idea of short films.”
The final product – titled Proof of Concept – uses all of its six minutes and fourteen seconds to showcase the neighborhood and several of its beloved institutions. (It’s really five minutes and forty-five seconds if you exclude the credits.)
The brainchildren behind the short are actor and filmmaker Ellie Sachs (My Annie Hall, Mirra) and writer Max Cohn (The Simpsons, A Recipe for Seduction), both of whom wanted to be the first to make a short about the short filmmaking process. “[Proof of Concept] was really born out of our befuddlement around the short-filmmaking process,” Sachs told the New Yorker, which also owns the micro movie.
Cohn grew up on the Upper West Side and, with Sachs, believed the neighborhood was the best backdrop for Sachs’ character Chloe to make the pitch for $10,000 to create her short film. The spiel is instant as Chloe strolls along Central Park West with her father Robert, played by Richard Kind (Argo, Inside Out), and uncle Ed, played by Will Janowitz (Bikini Moon, Boardwalk Empire).
The group makes its way around the area including short stays in Carmelo’s Shoe Repair, J’s Cleaners, and Stationary and Toy World. However, filming in iconic spots like Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s wasn’t so easy. Turns out, the key to doing so was a bit of kindness – Upper West Sider Richard Kind, that is.
“We were only able to get them because of Richard,” Cohn told the New Yorker. “We went into Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s and asked if we could shoot there for free, and they said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Then when we came back with Richard, they were, like, ‘Of course, how long do you need? An hour? Two hours?’”
Proof of Concept premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival and is available to view here.