He Could’ve Gone Pro may be set at Christmastime, but don’t go in expecting a big dose of festive cheer. This is a sad, touching, and thought-provoking short film that highlights how difficult Christmas can be for some families.

Gayle (Cecelia Wingate) is a cheery middle-aged woman, calling family members on Christmas Day and starting each conversation with a ‘ho ho ho’. It’s when Gayle’s daughter Debbie (McGhee Monteith) arrives with her boyfriend that it becomes instantly clear that this is not a happy family. Gayle tries to keep up her happy demeanour, but that is only until a devastating family secret is brought out into the open.

Monteith is not only perfect in the role of the tortured Debbie, but she is also the film’s writer and director. The tone of the sensitive topic that the film revolves around is judged perfectly, with Monteith managing to paint a detailed picture of both Debbie and her mother in the 13-minute running time.

Wingate’s performance is so realistic as the matriarch Gayle that at the beginning you find yourself wondering if this is actually a documentary. Her conversation with a family member regarding the latest gossip while she enjoys a cigarette feels so familiar she could almost be your relative. Her character is not perfect, however; there is real depth and sadness just below the surface.

Interestingly, there isn’t a side to be taken in this family’s argument – both characters demand and deserve your sympathy. He Could’ve Gone Pro is a unique and clever short film that may not give you the fuzzy festive feelings, but it certainly makes you question how quickly you find yourself judging other people. McGhee Monteith is a filmmaker to certainly keep your eye on, with her second short film currently in production.

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CAST: Cecelia Wingate, McGhee Monteith, Stephen Garrett

DIRECTOR: McGhee Monteith

WRITER: McGhee Monteith

SYNOPSIS: Debbie returns home for an obligatory Christmas dinner with her steel magnolia mother, but simmering resentment explodes to expose a long-held family secret leaving the holiday – and the family – shattered.