Throughout the United States, immigrant workers are performing an increasing number of less-desirable jobs. These jobs usually include fast food preparation, construction/landscaping, custodial work, domestic and farm labor. However, in director David Lindabury’s short Day Labor, there is a new job to add to the list: executive office sales in corporate America.
In Lindabury’s sophomore project, Juan and Esteban (actors Wayne Mallory and Rich Salas), are two day-laborers, loitering outside a hardware store, looking for work. However, when two sharply dressed guys in suits drive up in a convertible and begin sizing up potential workers, things get a little odd. After being selected, Juan and Esteban are crammed into the backseat of the convertible and spirited away to the parking lot of a local office complex. There, they are each given a one-piece Armani business suit coverall (complete with a zipper in the back!) to put on over their t-shirt and jeans. As a final touch, the young hotshots pin their own ID badges to the new “salesmen”, and shove them off in the direction of the office building before making a hasty departure.
Still bewildered, Juan, i.e. “Dale Wilson”, manages to find his way into his cubicle. As the day progresses, Juan learns how to use the computer, plays internet games and visits online dating sites, all the while being brought gifts by coworkers(cookies, popcorn, gift wrap) for no apparent reason. Unknown to Juan, “Dale” is the “office sponsor” that can always be counted on to buy Girl Scout cookies or a knickknack, when someone’s kid is trying to raise money. Every office seems to have someone like this.
Meanwhile, Esteban, i.e. “Corey Armitage”, discovers that he is stuck in an all-day workshop/meeting, with a manager (actor John Paul Marston) whose enthusiasm is on par with Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. Esteban (as Corey) is unable to escape the meeting and forced to endure it for the entire day.
In between these various scenes, we see the real Dale and Corey (actors Justin Cave and Jason Von Stein) out enjoying the day, drinking beer and fishing. At the end of the day, Dale and Corey return to relieve their stand-ins. The ersatz corporate drones are stripped of their professional attire and paid for their “work”.
This incredibly creative film is rife with the kind of satire and irony that I love. Lindabury takes a humorous, but thoughtful look at both immigration and corporate policy in just twelve and a half minutes. Many layers of irony run throughout the film, from the obvious irony of high-powered corporate salesmen who hire immigrants to take their place at work, while they play hooky; to the subtle irony of a corporate world so oblivious that an imposter, non-English speaking, who never worked in an office before, and is computer illiterate, can pass as a salesman. In addition, the employees are so oblivious that nobody notices that Dale and Corey are suddenly Hispanic!
The entire script is well written and very well acted. Wayne Mallory and Rich Salas do an excellent job of portraying their characters, with just the right balance of incomprehension and hesitation. This is even more notable, considering Juan and Esteban have absolutely NO lines until the very end of the film (and even then, it is only 1-2 lines). John Paul Marston’s spot-on, deadpan portrayal of an unenthused manager is a great homage to Office Space. The ending of the film is just great, with a final bit of irony as Esteban delivers his only line, thus making the whole film even funnier in retrospect.
The visual quality of this film is excellent. The camerawork is subtle. It is not immediately noticeable just how much movement there is, because it is so smooth and natural. Hats off to DP Allen Facemire for his steady, creative shots: several movement shots utilized handheld zooms, which can look terrible if done improperly or too excessively. While the lighting conditions vary drastically throughout the film (from fluorescent indoors to both sunny and overcast outdoors), the overall quality remained excellent and even.
There are two small suggestions I would make for the future:
1.) Unlike commercial logos, it is not necessary to blur out a license plate. (It ends up distracting the audience.) For the same amount of effort it takes to motion track a blur, you can make a replacement plate and use that instead.
2.) It helps to place the full crew credits at the end of a film, even if they’ve already been displayed in the intro. I was initially confused when I was looking for certain people’s names in the end credits, to find them only at the beginning!