This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.
“The film your watching now was edited on a computer. If you knew that I cut it by hand, that I spliced each cut over and over until I had it just the way I wanted it, that I wound the film on reels and ran it through my fingers and my fingers left their mark on each frame I touched, would you appreciate it more? If there were tiny scratches and specks from where I let it touch the ground and jumps in the sound from where the emulsion was rubbed off, would these flaws endear it to you? Would they matter?
David Lowery has acted in, edited, directed, DPed, produced, written and been thanked in dozens of short films. After more than a decade of prolific output, he’s springboarded out of Sundance this year as the editor of Upstream Color, the writer of Pit Stop and the writer/director of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Fans of those films won’t be surprised to find that these shorts feature (for the most part) the same calm, poetically contemplative affectations.
Some Analog Lines (2006)
A meta examination delivered 6 years after Lowery’s $10k do-it-all-yourself feature debut Lullaby, Lowery tracks the distinctive differences between the cutting methods of his youth and the digital scissors of today. Showcasing his brother as a 4-year-old actor and tracking on him as an adult CGI artist, some excellent questions about art are raised. Luckily, Lowery has the humility and the presence of mind to dispense with pretension in exchange for insight.
Of course, showing your homemade ghost story from when you were a kid with a camera goes along way to removing the airy sting of faux-enlightenment. It transforms “What does it all mean, man?” into “That’s kind of cool, huh?” pretty quick.
A Catalog of Anticipations (2008)
Built from still photographs and another whispy, beat-style narration, this short approaches film school eye rolling until throwing a wrench at your forehead. The, you know, good kind of wrench.
Lowery gets to showcase his doll-making and stop-motion skills here with a healthy dash of morbid magical realism.
The Boy Crazy Shorts (2009)
The biggest departure from his other work, Lowery did just about everything but write a group of promos for Alexi Wasser’s (Girls, Cabin Fever 2) website. Written by and starring Wasser, the shorts are in large part awkwardly funny, finding punchlines in Wasser’s “boy crazy” lifestyle. A kind of raven-haired Chelsea Handler, one night stands and intimate grooming are on the menu, and while most of it is delightfully wince-worthy, some of it grabs you by the jaw.
Oddly enough, scissors are involved here, too. Lowery’s got a theme going there.
Other Recommended Viewing
Still — “A student film from someone who never went to film school.”
48 Ribs — The bleak joys of morning sickness.
The Outlaw Son — “A young man calls an old friend to pick him up from the airport. She does so, and they spend a long cold night in each other’s company; driving around, listening to music, and trying hard not to grow up.”
My Daily Routine — An animated breeze fueled by coffee that includes a cameo by the script for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.