Short Film: Collector (2008)

Written and Directed by Dempsey Tillman, Starring The Late

July 17 2010 Categorized Under: Horror Shorts, Movie Reviews No Commented
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Collector (2008)

Director Dempsey Tillman makes his mark with the supernatural short film Collector, which features Brad Renfro in his final role.


Dempsey Tillman’s directorial debut, Collector is a haunting film of a man seemingly lost and alone, who wages a battle with himself and the forces of good and evil. Screened in over 40 film festivals, the short film has garnered 20 awards, including seven “Best Short Film” awards, two “Best Director” awards, “Best Cinematography,” “Best Sound Design” and four “Awards of Excellence.” Never before released to the public, the film, which also stars Matthew Boylan, will be available for download and on DVD on starting July 20, 2010.

Tillman says that Brad Renfro was driven to take part in the project because he felt he had a connection to the story and to the character. He wanted the opportunity to express a small part of himself through “Justin”. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the film will go to benefit D.A.R.E. at the Knoxville Police Department, which educates teens about the dangers of drug abuse. It was a cause close to Renfro’s heart, and where he was discovered as a young actor.

Collector is the basis for another of Dempsey’s next feature film project, The Almighty. A supernatural genre-crossing film also written by Dempsey, The Almighty tells the tale of a faithless man, Oscar Renfro, who is gifted with the ability to tear demons from the possessed. The movie combines the same cutting edge of the seat special effects briefly glimpsed in Collector and will be shot in 3-D. The lead character of Oscar was named in honor of Brad.

For more information about Collector, go to the Facebook Page.

Update: The Collector is now online. Watch it below:

Review by Bill Gordon

Collector (2008)
Directed by: Dempsey Tillman
Starring: Brad Renfro, Matthew Boylan

A 15 minute short film written and directed by Dempsey Tillman, Collector starts off with a clearly disturbed man named Justin who wakes up in a dirty, mostly-empty room, save for a bed with no sheets and a photograph of his baby son on the dresser.

Hearing banging noises on the other side of a door, he’s about to open it when a visitor arrives, a strange man (Matthew Boylan) who claims to be a therapist. The man insists that he’s there to help, but Justin is both distrustful of him and disturbed by the the noises coming from another room, that apparently only he can hear. Justin must ultimately make a decision about the man’s intentions, leading to a surprising revelation.

Collector is an atmospheric piece that features a nice, emotional performance from the late Brad Renfro, who died in early 2008 from a drug overdose. It treads no real new ground – you can correctly surmise that Justin’s world is purely metaphysical – but it’s short and sweet, and 15 minutes is probably enough time to get the messages across. The best thing about it is that at the end, like many life choices, everything really comes down to choosing which door to walk through. Tillman takes a man’s existential crisis and distills it down to basics. Another interesting thing about the film is that it marks an ominous role for Renfro – watching him play a tortured drug abuser, knowing what will happen to him later, adds an extra eerie vibe to the proceedings. Worth a look.

– Bill Gordon

Dempsey Tillman

One of a growing number of young African American directors changing the field of filmmaking, Dempsey has worked with Hollywood’s most respected and successful directors, including Sam Raimi, Robert Redford, Rob Reiner, Antoine Fuqua, and Justin Lin among others. Said Grant Curtis, producer of the Spider Man franchise, “Collector showcases Dempsey’s ability to craft a story, direct actors, create an aesthetic, and ultimately deliver an experience that connects with an audience.”

Tillman, considered one of the top Video Assist men in Hollywood, is also credited with additional photography for 2009’s Land of the Lost plus un-credited re-shoot work on Rumor Has It and Dude, Where’s My Car. His talent also caught the eye of NBC Universal Studios through the Short Cuts Film Festival, and the Syfy channel, which resulted in a directing assignment. A native of Michigan, he has worked on over 30 blockbuster films.

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