December 26, 2012 | 1:00 PM
Spencer Susser has an odd comic sensibility. He directed the Four Stories short film, Eugene—shot at W Washington D.C.—which follows the surrealistic adventures of a lonely traveler who receives a mysterious gift—an Ultrabook™ that grants wishes.
How Eugene wields his newfound powers exposes the sweet, childlike nature of the character and also something a bit unexpected. The film is a meeting of character and setting. Eugene doesn't have much luck finding connections with people, "so he decides to go on this trip to D.C.," Spencer told The Ultrabook Experience team. The stately W Washington D.C. is like its own character in the movie, alongside the lonely traveler and his all-powerful Ultrabook. There's a twist at the end of Eugene, which reveals a lot about Spencer's sensibilities as a filmmaker.
The double edge of innocence and misplaced desire has guided two of Susser's films in the past. When Roman Coppola matched up the young director to this project, his history as an edgy, but approachable filmmaker made him a perfect fit for the comedy of Four Stories contest winner Adam Blampied's script. Together, they revised the script.
Spencer's breakout independent short, I Love Sarah Jane (2008), is a love story set amid a zombie apocalypse. Hesher, a feature film starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Natalie Portman, was Spencer's feature debut in 2010, featuring a metal-loving, long-haired misanthrope who befriends a young mother and her son.
Next year, Susser will premiere The Captain at the Sundance Film Festival. He co-directed the short film with The Directors Bureau filmmaker Nash Edgerton. The description from Sundance's website, "A man wakes up with a hangover, only to discover the consequences of his actions," is open-ended, and the still from the film features what appears to be an airline captain seated atop an overturned car in front of a destroyed building. Consequences, indeed.
Stories that are unexpected, sweet, dark, and paced in such a way that the surreal elements of the plot complement the motivations of the characters form Susser's distinct filmmaking style.