Independent Film

The Best Short Films

Editor’s Note: With Sundance 2013 upon us, we’re revisiting some of our favorite shorts from Sundance years past. This wonderful little film played the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, played in our Short Film of the Day series in August 2011 and is back for another run as we kick off a week of Sundance shorts. Why Watch? Because WTF stands for “Genius.” The vibrant, skillful blend of puppetry and animation, the hammer-to-nail satire of children’s programming and the huge wad of creativity make this short a winner all around. As a bonus, the song is catchy as hell. This is what everyone is thinking whenever they see kid’s shows as adults. Fortunately, it’s done as smartly as possible. The easy joke is avoided, and the rest is a frantic, jaw-lowering exercise in insanity. What does it cost? Just 3 minute of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

read more...

Culture Warrior

It’s nothing new to say that the term “independent filmmaking” has come to no longer reference the actual practice of making films outside the studio system, and alerts more directly to an aesthetic of hipness. That the cute-and-quirky consecutive multi-Oscar nominees Little Miss Sunshine and Juno were similarly marketed by Fox Searchlight as “independent films” despite the fact that the former was actually produced independently and the latter was funded by studio dollars, effectively put the nail in the coffin for actual independent filmmaking to have any meaningful visibility. Meanwhile, first-time directors who make their name at Sundance like Marc Webb, Doug Liman, and Seth Gordon quickly reveal themselves to be aspiring directors-for-hire rather than anti-Hollywood renegades. Tom DiCillo, Hal Hartley, and Jim Jarmusch seem ever more like naïve, idealist relics each passing year. It’s clear what the blurring of the lines between independence and studio filmmaking has meant for the mainstream: as my friend and colleague Josh Coonrod pointed out last week, it renders “platform release” synonymous with “independent,” it means that movies featuring Bradley Cooper and Bruce Willis are the top competitors at the “Independent” Spirit Awards (see the John Cassavetes Award for actual independents), and it means that Quentin Tarantino is, for some reason, still considered an independent filmmaker. American independent filmmaking has lost its ideological reason for being. But when it comes to films that are actually independently financed – films for whom the moniker is less an appeal toward cultural capital and more an accurate […]

read more...

Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: Landon is participating in a top secret experiment this week, so he’s invited colleague Joshua Coonrod to fill in for him. Your usual Culture Warrior and I teach at the same university (Indiana U – home of Breaking Away and the Hoosiers) in the same communications program. Amongst the most interesting things about teaching media studies at a major university is the sense you get of what young film students are interested in, what (few) films drive them into theaters, and how they understand the constantly shifting mediascape around them. While you obviously don’t have to be an academic to watch film, love it, study it and critique it (re: the title of this site), it is intriguing to consider how upcoming film students – who make a decision to invest copious amounts of time, energy, and money into the study of film – approach the medium. With all the end-of-year discussions of 2012’s best films, what have those students been heralding? From my experience – barely anything. I feel like there’s a lot of assumptions as to the answer to that question, though. Film students? They like foreign films, right? Really arty, cerebral shit? Don’t they want to prove themselves by knowing the most obscure, hard-to-find films? My semester began with a student introducing himself in (just about) the following way: “My favorite filmmaker is this director Quentin Tarantino. He made this film Inglourious Basterds. Everyone should really check it out.” People nodded. The student looked proud of himself. I stared blankly, wondering […]

read more...

VHS Horror Movie

The red band trailer for V/H/S - the new horror anthology from a slew of indie writers and directors – was excellent, but there’s something magical about a green band trailer for scary flicks that makes a movie sing. The limitations either mean the trailer will sink miserably or soar to pants-wetting heights. This feature does the latter. From Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Dennis McQuaid, and David Bruckner, the movie wraps five horror tales inside a story about thieves trying to find a mysterious video tape amongst a pile of dangerous found footage. Plus, it might be the first movie to have two forward slashes in its title. Check out the new trailer for yourself:

read more...

“We should get together and just make a movie” is the “we should open a bar” of Hollywood. Tons of people say it all the time because talk is affordable, but a very small percentage actually get out there and make it happen. That’s why it’s always refreshing to see people with talent match it with active ambition. Finite Films is built on fan-submitted concepts, crowd-funding and creativity. The fans and funding make sure they have user-submitted constraints on their filmmaking (think of it as Dogme 2012) and enough cash to get sandwiches for everyone; the creativity is all theirs. Of course, none of what they’re doing would be noteworthy if they weren’t churning out great short films every single month. After a submission and public voting process, the team takes their list of constraints (“One character has to be hiding a horrible secret”) and makes something magical happen. We’ll talk with two of their founders about the freedom that limitations can create. Plus, Movies.com managing editor Erik Davis drops by for a game of Movies News Roulette. Download Episode #136

read more...

Meeting Evil writer/director Chris Fisher joins us to talk about how necessary movie stars are to getting financing in the indie world (and how to talk to Samuel L. Jackson on set). Plus, we go beyond the headlines to explore the Alamo Drafthouse‘s expansion into New York City with CEO Tim League and to push the envelope of film festivals with Tribeca Executive Director Nancy Schafer. Download Episode #129

read more...

The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Some of it’s obvious, some of it’s aggressively amateur, but it’s hard to resist posting a short film that’s so dedicated to movies. It also helps when the director claims that it’s this column that helped push him out the door and finally get something on camera. Plus, despite a few flaws, this comedic short from Walter Woods nails down the style of a handful of notable directors right down to the title sequencing. Wes Anderson is a bit clunky, but Quentin Tarantino is spot on, and the rest are pure icing for a great example of low-budget filmmaking that works because of a clever, sketch comedy-style concept and good execution which mines what’s funny about stereotyping auteurs. What will it cost? Only 9 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

read more...

The Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars never agree. Well, almost never. In 28 years of co-existing, the two organizations have only agreed once before – on Oliver Stone’s Platoon back in 1986. It’s not surprising since the Spirit Awards focus on celebrating a particular method of filmmaking that is often overlooked by the red-carpet-ready Academy Awards, but if both honor prestige movies, it seems at least likely they’d agree from time to time, right? They didn’t until last night. The more-than-two-decades-long drought was finally broken when The Artist took home Best Picture less than a week after bringing home the top Spirit prize. It became the first movie since 1986 to win both the Oscar and the Indie Spirit Award. One was in an ornate theater, the other was in a tent on the beach, but the implication is clear: independent movies are breaking more and more into the mainstream.

read more...

With the Oscar nominations out terrorizing the community, we turn to IMDB Managing Editor Keith Simanton to discuss why the Academy Awards still matter, how the voting environment works, and why Harvey Weinstein always seems to control the conversation. Plus, Landon Palmer explores the death of the movie star and the rise of franchises. Could it help the revival in independent filmmaking? As if that weren’t enough, Cinema Blend‘s Editor-in-Chief Katey Rich squares off with Hollywood.com Movies Editor Matt Patches in a Movie News Pop Quiz that will change everything. Download This Episode

read more...

The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In this bizarre work (half authored by the internet), artist and academic Sebastian Schmieg loaded a transparent image into a search engine, nabbed the top result, searched with that new image, and repeated the cycle. Almost 3,000 images later (2,951 to be exact), he created a 12 frames per second flip book that is both stunning, confusing, and somehow also banal. It’s our everyday extrapolated and turned into what might be called Found Object Short Film. Or it might just be true Found Footage filmmaking. How do you go from images of the universe, to breasts, to Rage Comics, to Google (the search engine itself), to graphs? Let the internet do the directing. Ingenious. What will it cost? Only 4 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

read more...

On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.

read more...

This week, on a very special Reject Radio, we talk with the filmmakers behind The Devil Inside about going guerrilla in Vatican City (and responding to negative reviews) and writer Derek Haas (3:10 To Yuma, Wanted) about jumping between screenwriting, short stories, and his “Silver Bear” novel series. Plus, it’s Rob Hunter vs. Robert Fure in the first Movie News Pop Quiz of the season. Let the slap fight commence! Download This Episode

read more...

In our first show of the 2012 season, we set off the filmmaking fireworks by finding out why Innkeepers director Ti West doesn’t believe in spooks, and by talking to indie icon Ed Burns about the twitter revolution, his $9,000 budget, and his new must-see movie Newlyweds. Plus, Neil Miller stops by to dangle the hope and potential of 2012′s most anticipated movies over our noses. Will he say the movie you’re thinking of and validate his opinion to you, or will he neglect it, making everything he says in the future suspect? Be prepared to find out a metric ton about movies and their makers, because it’s our third season, and we’re only getting started. Download This Episode

read more...

Why Watch? Can you create animation in real-time? It’s a fascinating question and a challenge that clearly comes from a unique mind. Instead of hand-drawing every cel or stop-motioning objects you move a centimeter at a time, Katy Beveridge decided that she could create animation using the natural, real-time flip book effect of something you probably have on your porch right now. The result here shows the method’s limitations, but it also manages to produce an oddly mesmerizing effect. What does it cost? Just 2 minutes of your time. Check out The Bicycle Animation for yourself:

read more...

Remember the time in college when you were strapped for cash and ended up working as a subconscious prostitute where anyone with a few bucks could have their way with you in your sleep? Yeah, we had that wiped from our memory too. Thankfully, Julia Leigh‘s new film Sleeping Beauty won’t let us forget. Here’s the trailer if you want to refresh yourself and get some context for the big spooning image of Emily Browning and your grandpa to the right. It hit Cannes with a mixed vengeance, and it should be in theaters (limited style), but it’s also available right this second on SundanceNOW. That is, if you like paying for things. Since we don’t, we’re giving away a free online ticket to see the movie through that wonderful website. How do you enter? How do you win? Glad you asked.

read more...

Why Watch? What happens when a superhero gets old? What happens if the world needs him again? I know, I know. Superhero movies are so boring that even explorations and deconstructions of superheroes movies are yesterday’s news, but this Austin-shot short film has a charm that outweighs all of staleness that’s come with capes. First of all, it’s silly and owns it. Secondly, its cinematography is sleek, interesting, and aids the actors at every turn. Thirdly, it’s fun. Sometimes that’s all it takes to overcome a genre that’s been beaten like a dead horse. And, yes, it gets bonus points for being made in 48 hours. What does it cost? Just 8 minutes of your time. Check out The Walker for yourself:

read more...

This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Homecoming writer/director Sean Hackett discusses a brave new distribution technique, and Koran By Heart documentarian Greg Barker takes us to Cairo during Ramadan. Plus, Landon Palmer culture wars against Movies.com‘s dapper senior editor Pete Hall in a Movie News Pop Quiz that will probably cause your living room to burst into flame. Download This Episode

read more...

In 1985, the Graphics Group in LucasFilm‘s Computer Division was on the chopping block. As Robert Sutton relates, George Lucas wasn’t confident that computer animated films had much of a future, and as a result, department heads Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith (two pioneers of extreme importance) were being pressured to fire some of their workers. Instead, they offered up their own names to be culled, which saved the entire division. At least for that moment. It’s unclear what fate might have fallen on the Graphics Group had the Computer Division not been purchased in 1986 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for a tidy $5m. Of course, we know this department by another name: Pixar. Jobs put his money down on a company he believed in, and the result stands currently as 26 Academy Awards, an absurd amount of box office money, a legion of fans worldwide and nearly complete animation dominance in the movie world. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar at an evaluated worth of $7.4b, making Jobs the largest Disney shareholder. He is stepping down as Apple’s CEO today, and even though it’s hard to say what kind of effect that might have on the film world, Jobs’s legacy already extends far beyond Pixar and beyond The Mouse.

read more...

Quick. Name the one supernatural movie trend that you’re most tired of. Excellent, now see if you can give it one more, distinctly different chance. The trailer for indie film Daylight Fades looks to take a tortured approach to the vampire story by making it the last resort. In the film, two people meet, fall in love, and then get ripped apart by an accident that leaves one on death’s door in the hospital. There’s a solution, but like most desperate things, the price might be far too high to pay. Check it out for yourself:

read more...

Why Watch? Because there is beauty all around. This sentimental short film has a lot going for it. Namely, it plays off the last few frames with greatly judged skill and delivers a voice over that’s as melancholy as it is meaningful. It’s a movie that might take you to another world, another time, or remind you of your own experiences. That’s impressive filmmaking, and it comes wrapped in a pristine package here. Just try not to judge that wrapping before you get to the end. What does it cost? Just 4 minutes of your time. Check out Shooter for yourself:

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
SXSW 2014
Game of Thrones reviews
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3