Ben Affleck’s Oscar-nominated film Argo is expected to take away the big prize this Sunday. Nominated as a producer alongside George Clooney and Grant Heslov, this would not be Affleck’s first Oscar: how quickly we forget his prize-winning script for Good Will Hunting, shared with co-star Matt Damon. The very fact that he missed out on a nomination for Best Director is perhaps the biggest story at this year’s awards – after all, Affleck has built a solid reputation behind the camera with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now Argo.
However, very few people realise that Gone Baby Gone was not in fact his directorial debut.
Ecco: this short film from 1993. Entitled I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Ηung Ηer on a Μeathook & Νow I Have a Three-Picture Deal with Disney, the film — much like Argo– is a satire of Hollywood, apparently. It revolves around a crazed director who pretty much does everything that’s mentioned in the above title.
It’s strange now to think that film-makers of yore were allowed to experiment with short films and learn from their mistakes, free from judgement and derision. But not in the YouTube generation! No, no! Nowadays, all your failures are uploaded straight into The Cloud where they can forever be recalled at the touch of a button and used as a weapon to belittle you. How dare you ever have ambitions that exceed your current level of ability!
The only upside for Affleck is that his work here is not super-terrible. Young Ben has a decent sense of framing and stays away from the film student habit of cutting away every other second. In fact, Affleck’s direction is perhaps the least awful part of this movie – a back-handed compliment akin to saying that the best thing about having SARS is all the vomiting you get to do.