Before the dark subversive charms of Happiness (1998), and the angst-riddled suburban underbelly of Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), director Todd Solondz wrote and directed Babysitter (1984), a NYU short that outlined the oddball blueprint for what was to follow.

Solondz has long walked a delicate line between raging sexual urges and simmering repression, and though the content of his more recent films has blunted slightly, his early work is the perfect example of a director channelling personal frustrations into the medium of film. It is no mistake that the eponymous babysitter of this short screams the name 'Todd' as she reaches an off-screen climax, or that the protagonist of his third directorial effort Fear, Anxiety and Depression is played by Solondz himself, because these grainy and primitive films are perhaps best viewed as expressions of their director's personal urges. Babysitter then is maybe his most revealing confession due to its unpolished and unashamedly weird nature, made long before he learnt the ways of restraint and subtlety.

Here Solondz explores the themes that would arguably go on to define his career: sexual awakening, youthful lust, and taboo relationships and if anything, the grainy, distorted stock he films on only serves to emphasise the bubbling prepubescent impulses of its young central character. With visual nods to The Graduate (1967), Babysitter explores the brief connection between a young nerdy male and his older teenage babysitter. Striking up an unlikely friendship, she gives him his first cigarette, beer and kiss, before he catches her one night losing her virginity in his living room, and leaving a stain on the carpet for him to explain to the puzzled adults.

As with the rest of his filmography, there is a degree of something close to wish fulfilment throughout - the filmic equivalent of living out ones hidden fantasies. As mentioned, the girl has sex with a boy named Todd, and the young male protagonist resembles his thin bespectacled director, again going some way to reinforce the highly personal nature of the short.

Some of Babysitter's symbolism is a little on the nose and his black sense of humour is not quite fully developed yet, but as a first film it demonstrates wholly Solondz's early mission statement: to explore the seedy underbelly of teen fantasy, and to slyly comment on the American aversion to taboo subjects. Screening this week over at Le CiNéMa Club, Babysitter acts as a primer of sorts to everything Solondz has worked on since, a grainy appetiser to the forbidden pleasures of his most controversial work, and an early highlight in a career built on subversion with a dash of impeccable charm.

You can view the film by heading here.