By Jordan Hale & Omar Chavez

ODDS OR EVENS is a short film directed by Jay Gormley. A star athlete is down on his luck, until a bizarre twist of fate offers a second chance. In his search for redemption, he makes one discovery too many.

Actor Charles Baker (Breaking Bad’s Skinny Pete) stars as Travis; a former marathoner who attempts to help a distraught woman, Karen, overcome her tragic past. Lydia Mackay (Dallas Observer’s 2008 Best Local Actress) plays the role of this single mother who seeks the meaning of forgiveness.

Jordan@SDU: Odds or Evens is one of the more professional-looking short films I’ve seen. I thought the locations and the extra work were on a higher-level than most, and it is often these small details in regards to the setting the characters are in, the art direction, that seem to really set a film apart. To me a story becomes all the more real the more connections it allows its’ characters, because it truly is a small world and there are those who share your experiences, no matter how horrific they may be.

This film was careful to focus on the little introspective moments of its’ main characters, those moments where they are silent and yet the audience can still almost hear their thoughts, see the gears turning. Interestingly, I am comparing two very different films (Odds or Evens and Five Year Dream) and yet have some very similar things to say about both of them. Since I can’t seem to stop talking about the importance of attention to detail, I will note here that I was impressed by the very professional cinematography.  The people behind the camera knew where to shoot, and how to get the proper coverage to create dynamic scenes. I also found this film to have impressively stylistic editing, which I thought really added to the highly dynamic storytelling. On this note, the story is unique and is truly something fresh that I have never seen before. Interestingly, I felt that within such a unique story, a lot of the dialogue was reminiscent of things I have heard in the movies, some of which aired on the side of repetitive and/or overdone.

The distinctiveness of the storytelling overshadows this for the most part, but there is always room for improvement in movie-making, in every movie that has ever been made and ever will be made! The actors were great as well, they seemed like the types that didn’t need a whole lot of directing, they knew where to go with their characters. Each of the main actors was very believable in their quite complex roles. I enjoyed watching this film and getting to know Ludus productions. Best of luck to you in the festival race!

Omar@SDU: For Jordan and I this short film was the third film that my good friend Jael Sundown asked me to watch and critic. This film was a collaboration of Ludisian Legion Entertainment & FilmCynix. I’m pretty hard on films. Even though I’ve never made what would be considered as a legitimate film, my passion to make one is what drives me to dissect every detail of any film I watch; from the acting, to the writing, to the editing, sound recording, and everything in between…so let me begin.

Odds or Evens was a great short film. Do you know what it takes for me to flat out label a film “great”? A lot. It takes a hell of a lot for me to sit down and proclaim that this film is a work of art. And I don’t mean “art” in some obscure, interpretational self relating way. I mean it in a way that I as the audience did not have to figure out the meaning and importance of the message that was intended. This short film delivered the message of its importance like a gift; a gift of life, and death, and struggle, and guilt, and the irony that all of those elements make when they come together. My first props were to the writers, Jay Gormley and John Venable. Writers get little to no credit; but they should because every actor who’s ever won an Oscar would not have won without the words that were written to deliver. Well done, sir.

Moving on, the previous two films Jael Sundown has previewed for me, the Director of Photography, Jeff Adair did a top notch in bringing out a stunning visual display, gritty, elegant, and precise all at the same time. The editing (Done by Dave French) excellent for the same reasons. I am a commercial editor myself and there is no way to explain in a short review how painstakingly tedious and crucial this job is. To call it a “job” is an understatement.); and the direction (once again, by Jay Gormley) was solid and fluid. This studio is on the right path, and to see independent studios crank out better and better pieces of film brings joy to my soul; for if anything, my soul wants to be entertained by things that have nothing to do with mundane reality television and Twilight.

In closing, if Odds or Evens doesn’t submit itself to any and all film competitions, I’m going to have to shoot somebody or call in a bomb threat. Once again, I don’t boast on mediocre material, even though I respect mediocre material for having the passion to just be made and trying something. Mediocre material always has the potential to become great, with some honest self criticism and revisions. Keep it up film makers. Keep it up Gormley. Keep it up Ludisian Legion Entertainment and Film Cynix. And lastly, keep it up Charles Baker and Lynda Mackay for delivering concrete performances in an inspiring short film that I hope the world gets to see! (continued below….)

SDU:How did odds or evens get into your hands? 

Dave French@Ludus: Lori (my girlfriend/personal assistant) and I were at the Texas Theater for Blue Whisper. Jeff was shooting in NY or LA at the time, so I got up and said a few words about how we take a different approach to filmmaking.  Jay Gormley, writer/director of Odds or Evens, ran up and introduced himself.  Lori and Jay work together at CBS11 here in Dallas.  She had told him about the studio and what we were up to here in the metroplex.  He was extremely excited to work with us.  I read the script, and was blown away by the twists and turns it takes with the storyline.  The story was solid, but my first concern I told Jay was, these actors will need to be pro’s if they were going to pull this off.  He told me, no problem, his co-writter John Venable was friends with some of Dallas’ best actors and agents.  Jay had that drive, he had done a few shorts before, won some awards… his stuff is good, but we wanted to take it to the next level.

SDU: Is this the direction Ludus plans on taking more small features, short films?

 Dave French@Ludus: One of our first meetings here in the studio, I went around the room and asked each of these guys what our goal is for the studio…  Each one of them said.. .”To Make Films” The problem is you can’t just open your doors and say “Hi everyone, We’re a Film Studio, give us 2 million and we’ll make your movie”  There was a plan, a progression that needed to take place.  First we had to make it look like a studio, for as little money as possible.. Next we needed to show the world we could work as a team, to make a professional product.  The quickest way to make this happen was to start producing music videos or Music Films as we call them.  We called them this because each one is a chance to tell a story with a built in soundtrack.  Make the video more like a movie… By taking this approach, we hone our skills at production, set design, lighting and knowing the elements it takes to have that story line unfold.  Our team is solid and we have proven that with each production. With the addition of several short films, sizzler productions, and TV shows this past year, we are now looking for the next big project we can all get behind.  Features have always been the goal as a team, and it is our next step.

SDU: So concluding this article series on Ludus Studios & Dream. Work. Conquer Films, let me ask all of you one last question. I asked the same question to Dave French in the first article. What does this Studio mean to you?  And as you all move forward, what does the future of entertainment in Dallas and the surrounding areas of Texas reveal to you? 

Michael Traverzo@ Ludus: As one of the Ludus Founders this studio is a dream come true, I remember looking at buildings in downtown Houston, 17 years ago imagining what I would do if I could get in one and build an empire.  Texas is an amazing state with so much to offer, I feel like we have only scratched the surface.  The film industry has a strong pulse here and it’s getting stronger every year.  Having our studio here is a true blessing, We have a great location and the ability’s to travel west or east with ease.  Our studio is a nerve center of creativity, we have developed it to cater to every production need and are constantly adding and changing for the better.

Josh Puebla@Ludas: As we move forward, the future of entertainment and the arts in Dallas and the surrounding areas will grow at an alarming rate. We are living in tough times right now. Which is why more and more people are staying connected through clouds, mobile apps and wifi capable devices. Entertainment will surely be the benificiary of this. It is just another way to stay connected.

Julio Alonso@Ludus: This is just my opinion but I feel that Dallas, TX wil be the next Los Angeles within the next three to five years or so. There is so much talent that Dallas and the state of Texas we are starting to seriously get recognized in the film industry as an option for TV, Film and Music Video.  I truly believe that producers from California and New York will start to look at Dallas, TX as a great option for production because the talent, quality of production and the bottom line is the cost of production. Let’s face the fact’s – it’s much less expensive to shoot a film in TX than California or New York.

Shane Connelly@Ludus: I feel privileged to be able to work with such a talented group of individuals. No one really knows what the future holds. Considering the rapid incline we have gone through in just a little more than a year, I have a feeling the future of Dallas and our studio is pretty bright.

Esme Traverzo@Ludus: There are so many aspiring models, artists, musicians, writers, dancers, makeup artists, and performers. We want to capture their talent in film & also help expose their talents to the Nation, & potentially propel them (& us) into the bright lights of Hollywood.Are our paths already written? Are we discovering a script that’s laid out for us to find? This is when we are in the Adventure genre of our lives! However I am lucky enough to already know the greatest people behind the camera, from Editors, Directors, Score Writers to DP’s. As they are all part of LUDISIAN LEGION ENTERTAINMENT LLC.

Antonio T. Hall@Ludus: This studio is my extended family and means the world to me. Together I think we can make an impact in entertainment in Dallas and compete with LA and NY. The sky is truly the limit, as long as the zeal is there.

Jeff Adair@Ludus: this studio means a lot to me. Everything I’ve ever worked for is right here. Everything that awaits is here. Working hard while we wait. I think Dallas & Texas is going to just to continue to grow. People in the film community are starting to call this Dallywood. Let’s see if the name catches.

SDU: Guys this has been great; it’s not just a studio, it’s a family. To all your future success, I know it’s going to be an adventure, and quoting Mr. Hall “Got a lot love to give. A lot to share with the world, and I hope they embrace it and if they don’t. Fuck ’em” 

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Written by The Sundown United

The SUNDOWN UNITED is a multi-faceted project that houses an apparel and accessories brand, and online-magazine(weblogs/articles). All ends of and begins with the Sundown United our trademark, lifestyle, attitude, and personal perspective on Americana art/lifestyle subculture.

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