[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 7, 2011 by admin in Popular MediaMonday, March 7th, 2011
Our coverage of the world’s largest short film festival is two weeks late and a film short.
It’s a testament to my short attention span that I didn’t mention this year’s Tropfest short film festival winner a few weeks ago. This was especially shortsighted, given the combination of my obsession with short film and the fact that I ranted about Australia’s Blue Tongue Film shorts just three days before Tropfest announced this year’s winner, Animal Beatbox (also below). Ah well, “a week late and a film short”, as they say. If you haven’t heard of Australia’s Tropfest, don’t feel badly. In spite of laying claim to being the world’s largest short film festival, it seems to get remarkably little press in the states. Tropfest was created nineteen years ago by John Polson as an informal short film screening for cast, crew and friends at the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney. 200 people showed up the first year, and it’s been growing ever since. Past celebrity judges include names like John Woo, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Keanu Reeves, Ewan McGregor, and Jane Campion, and as of this year, the festival attracts a live national audience of more than 150,000 people on a single night. One little thing that makes Tropfest unique and helps keep the films fresh is that there’s Tropfest Signature Item each year, an item that must be referenced in the film somehow. This year’s TSI was “Key” which explains why the festival graphic here is a pile of silhouetted keys. Below are two of my favorite winners of the last few years – Marry Me from 2008, and Be My Brother from 2009 – followed by this year’s winner, mentioned above. I have to say, I love that one of the promotional pieces (also below) dredged up the old Hitchcock quote “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder“. See more winners and 2011 finalists on Tropfest’s YouTube Channel.
My love of short film is partly due to my short attention span, and the remarkably talented filmmakers of Blue Tongue Films provide a OH! LOOK! A BUNNY!
Nash Edgerton, an Australian fellow who was at one time an aspiring stuntman, has pulled off an even greater stunt by creating a collective of exceptionally talented filmmakers called Blue Tongue Films. I’ve mentioned before how – thanks to my goldfish-like attention span – I’m a bit of short film addict, so while discovering the treasure trove of quality shorts that Blue Tongue has made available via their YouTube channel has given me a huge fix, the sheer volume and quality of their output may unfortunately require checking into film junky rehab when I’m done booting up. I hadn’t heard of Blue Tongue until today, but this NYT piece from last spring outlines how the collaborative formed over the last few years, eventually evolving into a full blown production company that develops its various members’ work in a cooperative fashion perhaps reminiscent of filmmaker friends like Scorsese, De Palma, and Schrader, or Tarantino and Rodriguez. So far I’ve only watched the shorts Netherland Dwarf and Spider (featured below), but both of these films embody mature conception, execution, and production values that make it evident these filmmakers aren’t just talented dabblers. And their feature film Animal Kingdom – although I personally haven’t seen it – adds weight to that assessment; it won a World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance last year. They have a number of other feature length films in production, and, as I said, plenty of shorts to whet your appetite. Which is why I’m going to just shut up now, and get back to perusing some of the highest quality shorts I’ve seen in a while. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on October 1, 2010 by admin in Popular MediaFriday, October 1st, 2010
It’s sort of like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for hipsters.
Given my love of short film, I have no idea how I missed this one. Back in 2008, two guys in Toronto – Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol – created a short lived web series called “Nirvana The Band The Show”. If you like dry verite style of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and can tolerate a certain degree of the kind of hipsterism that made the series The Burg work, you might just enjoy The Website Nirvana The Band The Show . Except for the potentially annoying sideways-scrolling layout. On the other hand, if you’re a young hipster who spends most of your time talking about the YouTube show you should make that’s a deadpan take on two guys who spend most of their time talking about the show they will do, the series might just make you a little queasy. The YouTube clip below doesn’t really capture the feel of the show, so just go watch an episode. I imagine the series might have caught on if in all their hipness they had realized that “embeddable is spreadable” (I think I just coined a term), and had put it on YouTube. But since (as the duo themselves said in the interview linked to above) the entire series is based on illegal behavior, maybe you should do them a favor and snag all the episodes and put them on YouTube for them. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on August 1, 2010 by admin in Popular MediaSunday, August 1st, 2010
Fewdio cashes in on the often overlooked fact that horror films are typically 90% setup to bring you studio-quality, witty horror film shorts. And they’re FREE.
The fact that so many films can be summarized in about 90 seconds is probably one of the reasons I enjoy short film so much. Why spend 120 minutes of your life doing something that can be accomplished in five? What is fairly easy to do, and is done a lot in this genre, is comedy. Which is why it was refreshing to run across Fewdio , an extremely talented and polished group of professionals who had been working in the studio system and decided they wanted to do something where they had complete control, and without a huge budget and production cycle. They cashed in on two facts that are largely overlooked regarding horror: first of all, that the best segments of horror films often stand up on their own and are strung together with setups, and secondly, that no-one was really doing quality horror shorts. As Fewdio’s Drew Daywalt points out in this Shock Till You Drop interview, it’s a very viable and largely unexplored format. As he puts it: “You end on a scare and bang, you’re out…it’s a good model to aspire to. Twilight Zone is formulated that way. Set up, continued set up, expected left turn, roll credits“. All of Fewdio’s films (and there are around 50) have fairly high production values, a clever concept, and exceptional attention to details that are often overlooked in independent productions, especially their attention to sound, probably one of the most powerful tools at a horror filmmaker’s disposal. You can watch most of their films on their YouTube channel, or buy the Nightmare House – Volume 1 DVD on their site. Watch a few below. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on June 23, 2010 by admin in Popular MediaWednesday, June 23rd, 2010
It took over 2000 seconds to locate these five, ten, and fifteen second film sites. Don’t expect us to take another few thousand to actually REVIEW them too.
There’s a feeble irony in the fact that it will take you longer to read this than it takes to watch any of the short films referenced. Take solace in the fact that if you do read this, you’ll be spared the endless tens of seconds that I subjected myself to in order to spare you some of the same agony. As an attention deficient media sieve, I’ve previously mentioned my obsession with short format visual media, whether as tradtional short film, TV commercials, or obscure animation. I’ve been especially busy lately, so I thought maybe it’s time to push the envelope and see if there are any REALLY short films out there. I started small, with 5 Second Films. Clever idea, but we’ll have to see if they manage to bump up the quality of the content. If I’m going to spend a minute of my life perusing your five second films, I want at least four scintillating seconds packed into every feature, not just a clever gag. On a slightly more arty note, we have Ten Second Film. I guess that extra five seconds really gives you some room to expand on a theme. I didn’t find any 11 or 13 second film sites (although I did find a 93 minute film called 13 Seconds), but if you’re a cellphone filmmaker (and yes, even they have festivals ), 12Seconds.TV seems to be some sort of video sharing social site. And when we finally get to fifteen seconds, things get a little more interesting. The 15 Second Film Festival – supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland – is, in their words, “a small, but perfectly formed, two-seater itinerant Art-Deco Picture Palace” that “delivers a carefully curated programme of eye-popping, lip-smacking, brain-tickling quarter-minute masterpieces“. We’ll let you be the judge. We’ve already spent over 2000 seconds assembling these links for you, we’re not gonna spend another 1000 finding highlights and snagging the embed code. Let us know if you find anything good. Read the rest of this entry »