A few months ago, I got a DVD of a 15 min. short film called Dockweiler that was directed by a guy named Nick J. Palmer. I'd met him at KGB and he happened to have a copy with him and gave it to me. Because I'm scattered, it sat in a stack of DVDs I'd been meaning to watch, and I took those DVDs with me to the DR last month. (Others included The Fall and The Hit.) The only one I watched was Dockweiler. It stuck with me then, and I just watched it again this afternoon and was even more impressed.
First of all, it stars Tony Todd, the fucking Candyman (as well as the star of one of my favorite X-Files episodes). I don't know how you get Tony Todd for your short film, but that's extremely cool in and of itself. What impressed me most, however, was how Palmer made such an elegant, intelligent, and effective short film with such economy. This looks professional but it can't have cost much--the only locations I can recall are an office, a parking lot, and a beach. Nevertheless it tells a complete and very affecting story with nuance and grace notes but no extra fat.
It's about an ex-con, played by Todd, who supervises a program a maintenance crew of guys fresh out of jail. They clean shit up on Dockweiler Beach in California. Todd's character has serious anger issues and his family's out of the picture, so he structures his life rigidly around the job, which means a lot more to him than it does to the guys who work for him. A new parolee named McQueen joins the crew and some unpleasant stuff goes down. Very simple, very gracefully done, and very much the work of a director to watch. If I were a producer or studio exec and I saw this, I'd track Palmer down right away.