Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
Austin Alternative Screen Scene
As globetrotting as some of these stories may be, one need not travel to distant, exotic hideaways to witness the beauty of animals.
In fact, wildlife is, at every moment, all around us. The theatre in which we might observe nature’s most harrowing betrayals or staggering feats of derring-do could be as close as our very own backyards—or closer! “Web of Love | The Courtship of a Garden Spider” takes us up close and personal as we watch a delicate dance, a tightrope walk between life and death, in more ways than one.
European garden spiders are common fare in the United Kingdom, from which the short’s director Andrew Salter hails, but with the judicious application of a macro lens, they’re no less fascinating than the stuff you’d see on Animal Planet. Salter credits his lead actor’s performance with guiding the story in a compelling and well-ordered manner, as writing the narration to the footage felt natural after seeing what he’d captured through his excellent photography.
What elevates “Web of Love | The Courtship of a Garden Spider” further is the sound. Beyond the impressive visual component, the carefully placed foley effects lent the male spider’s struggle a visceral quality, underscored by, well, the score—pizzicato strings and pointed percussive hits smartly echo the visuals to create an effective whole. It’s a small piece, but this short demonstrates great potential for Salter, an aspiring Zoologist who clearly has good storytelling instincts, as he’s a self-admitted veteran of watching natural history documentaries. With a synergistic blend of image and sound, “Web of Love | The Courtship of a Garden Spider” made my skin crawl, though I’m prone to that, as a mild arachnophobe.