Tom, an overweight young man, takes refuge at his grandmother’s cabin in rural Protection, IL, in an attempt to bury the years of being bullied and feeling rejected. While in town, he meets a precocious blind girl named Lilly, who shows him how to be accepted and loved. Tender, funny and dramatic, the film shows characters not often depicted onscreen as leads, in a unique coming of age story.
“Empty Space” was produced in Chicago and shot entirely on location in small towns across Western, IL. The film’s crew consisted of 3 people (sound op, cinematographer, producer) and the film was shot in 14 days.
What We Thought:
Empty Space is the type of movie Hollywood has forgotten about. I love a big blockbuster as much as the next guy, but I also love a quality, character driven narrative as well. And that’s what Empty Space is, a quality, character driven narrative.
The film is about Tom, an overweight young man who moves away to escape his life of bullies and self-doubt. He meets a young blind woman and they eventually grow together, both experiencing new things in life. Tom himself falls in love, but also becomes a protector of Lilly, himself and Rebecca, a young girl in an abusive household.
You’ll only find a movie like this on the independent level. Studios would never cast an overweight lead beyond comedy or being the butt of jokes. They certainly wouldn’t showcase an overweight character with depth and a story arc. Add in a blind love interest and you definitely don’t get handed millions of dollars to make your movie. This film is pure independent filmmaking because it has to be.
It’s a shame in a way that studios won’t make movies like this because Empty Space will resonate with a lot of people. With bullying and “shaming” being hot topics of today, you’d think more stories like this would see the light of day. I’m not the skinniest of guys in the world so I can understand Tom’s doubts and lack of self-esteem and self-worth. At first he is awkward and doesn’t know how to stand up for himself. It’s that self discovery most people can relate to. You don’t have to be an outcast to understand growing as a person. Tom is almost a completely different person by the end of the movie. Lilly as well.
Empty Space is the type of movie you sit down and watch and then feel good about. Every character is human and believable. Every character serves a purpose to each other’s development. You don’t get that too often nowadays in film. I sure wish we did see more of it though.
Cast & Crew:
- Merrick Robison
- Elizabeth Stenholt
- Madysen Frances
- James Choi