Sold is a hilarious character sketch of a writer who has just sold his film script and wants to take a break from L.A. and see something “real.”
In some incredibly cringe-inducing moments, Neil meets these real people, motel clerks, drive-by restaurant servers, kids on bikes, etc. but can’t stop talking about the script he just sold and his life in Hollywood. Neil is offensive, self-centered, and lonely, and you can tell the polite people he meets are not sure what to make of him. And in a brilliant idea, these other, “real” people appear to be actually non-actors or not in on the joke of it being a short film. It makes these moments very uncomfortable and also very funny. The way these chunks are shot are also from farther away, giving it a candid-camera feel.
Neil fails to connect with anybody he meets until he meets with another struggling writer, a guy who accosts him in a restaurant. The way he freezes this awkward young man out, someone who just wants some engagement with another writer, tells you how hollow Neil really is. There is something really empty about him (besides him being a fictional character who exists for 13 mins on your computer screen). He hates being alone, and every person he meets seems like a life-line to keep his fictional self- "the successful Hollywood writer"- alive. Maybe if they don’t know or acknowledge who he is, he stops existing.
The writer/director and lead actor Jordan Firstman shows a lot of skill and confidence here, both as a dialogue writer and the way he shoots the different encounters Neil has with the people he meets. This is his second short film in the span of a year and he is definitely a film-maker to watch.