The Operator is a 2016 short English independent dramatic film exploring the mind of a teenager who becomes overwhelmed by his accidental situation and subsequent emotion. The film is written by Zain Khan, and co-directed by Zain Khan and Matt Senior. It is Khan's début film.
Production lasted for five months. Khan reached out to Senior through Instagram and asked him to get involved after watching his film 'The Boy Who Commits a Murder'. Senior agreed, and became associate producer. As rehearsals went on, Senior became the script developer, executive producer, editor, coach and eventually co-director. Senior decided to join the project so that Khan's first film would be high quality.
Khan had always wanted a career in film, so the initial reason for creating the short was for his portfolio - however he became inspired to write the script after watching the Steven Knight film 'Locke'. The film was released by NOT ENOUGH KNIFE on Amazon Prime and eventually Vimeo.
The aim was to create a short film which explored the life and emotion of one individual for limited screen time. It would feature flashbacks & fast paced editing. The opening scene of the film was directed by Senior, with the rest of the film being co-directed.
In 2020, Khan distanced himself from the The Operator, and Senior began re-editing the film, removing all of Khan's dialogue. In 2021, a new re-edit of The Operator, along with the accompanying trailer, was quietly released, completely replacing the original version on all platforms. This new version included tweaks to colour grading and other minor alterations, though the main change was the removal of Khan's voice, as well as the voice of Heather London-Roberts - who played The Operator - opting to instead drown out their voices with a piano composition from Lamorran Trevenna. This completely changed the tone of the film, shifting it from a dialogue-driven thriller, to an art-house style piece. This version was received much better than the original.
"The exquisite screenplay by Matt Senior was tightly woven into a well-paced psychological drama. The crisp pace and invigorating narrative managed to grab my attention and retain it for the entire run. Through the use of effective, well-timed flashbacks, we're provided important emotional cues as well as vital exposition that helps flesh out Cillian as a character and his tumultuous relationship with his alcoholic father, but also as a peek back to the good times to remind the viewer of everything Cillian has just lost.
The film is very character-centric making Zain's execution of Cillian all the more paramount, and man did he nail it. It's tough to make an audience care about a character in any film but even more-so when your film is limited to a brisk 14 minutes. However Zain knew precisely how to pull it off. His vulnerability is most apparent during any one of his emotional breakdowns and really lends a sense of realism and immersion into the production.
The soundtrack courtesy of Elysian Fields was an excellent addition to the film and really helped to supplement the tone. The sombre music overlain with dreary shots of the skyline and the wet pavement did wonders for me. Before even a word of dialogue is spoken, you're instantly aware of the lugubrious mood the film is going for; something that's imperative for short films. The cinematography came across as decidedly professional, capturing some great tracking shots and several POV shots, forcing the viewer to feel what the subject was. 8.5/10"
TURPS FILM REVIEWS
Atmospheric and visually stimulant, this film, co-directed by Zain Khan and Matt Senior, showcases both admirable camerawork and striking imagery that’ll stay with you long after you finish watching it.
Not enough can be said about Zain Khan’s acting.
The opening segment with the drunk father is shot beautifully and with a certain menace; the behind-the-back shot, combined with the stellar music, made me feel quite uncomfortable, leaving me trepidacious of what was on the horizon.
In fact, the film felt foreboding the whole way through. Right from the get-go, music consumes your being and you are transported to the world of this film, which feels very isolated and invasive leaving you a psychological mess. In terms of craftsmanship, the editing was expertly carried out. 4/5 stars.
THE LORD OF MOO