From director, Richard Raymond comes A Million Eyes, a short that captures the power of a passion that delves beyond the broken.

A Million Eyes is Leroy’s story. Played by newcomer Elijah M. Cooper, Leroy craves to capture the broken with an eye for photography that possesses every inch of the film with silent desire. But with a broken camera and an alcoholic mother, capturing the truth is often rawer and more unexpected than he intended.

Although running at a mere 24 minutes, Raymond makes use of every second. Every shot is calculated and exact, pouring Leroy’s very essence out on to the screen. It is as if each shot is a capture by Leroy himself through his own lens and shows Leroy’s surroundings at their truest and most beautiful without hesitation.

Cooper, as the films lead, flourishes. His portrayal of Leroy and his passion is silently articulate, as he withdraws from the screen for most of the film, choosing to allow the visuals – Leroy’s true calling – to take center-stage. Though despite his quiet demeanor, Cooper plays Leroy with wide-eyed hunger and full realization within the snapshot we are given of his life and refuses to let us ignore him and his story. It is this balancing act that is one of the true highlights and driving forces of the film.

Alongside Cooper, Katie Lowes plays Amber, Leroy’s mother. An alcoholic single mother, she is something that Leroy “loves so much that it hurts,” and it is evident to see with his effort to walk his mother home from work and attempt to take the perfect photo of her. Yet even in this short time, it is clear that Amber’s priorities are skewed by her addiction, leaving Leroy devastated.

Together, Cooper and Lowes have an electric bond. Although not the most ideal relationship, every complexity, and nuance flourishes under the two actors, creating a clear foundation for the film’s ultimate message. This, alongside the mentorship of Joe Morton’s Fern, creates an exciting trio of characters to drive the film from its beginning to end, and allowing us to live a moment in Leroy’s life, warts and all.

One of the true successes of the film is its transitions through time. We are able to skip through what feels like weeks in seconds, and it feels effortless. However, some of the situations Leroy finds himself in this time seem all too dramatic for this scenario, even if they are somewhat pivotal to the overall driving force of the film.

A Million Eyes is a snapshot into the world of Leroy and does not fail in its pursuit to find beauty in things that are not necessarily considered to be so. It shows an artist and his muse in a raw, modern form and does not fail to emulate the pain of creativity at its absolute finest.

Dir: Richard Raymond

Scr: Curt Zacharias Jr.

Cast: Elijah J. Cooper, Katie Lowes, Joe Morton

Prd: Erin Charles, Nousha Raymond, Richard Raymond, Josh Reinhold

DOP: Jarin Blaschke

Music: Chris Hyson

Country: US

Year: 2019

Runtime: 24 mins