Short Film

Pura Vida

This post is in partnership with Cadillac Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America recently launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenges producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants will make a short film over a single weekend in late June, and the 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. Your eyes are bright, your heart is full, and your optimism is high. You want to attempt to join the ranks of those creators who’ve gain notice by crafting a sensational short film. Maybe you’ve got a thousand ideas swarming your mind, or maybe you’re quietly panicking while waiting for inspiration to strike. Maybe you’ve got the camera but no crew, or the crew but no camera. Maybe your credit card is going to ache in the morning. No matter what situation you’re in, making your short film is going to have challenges — both technical and creative — and it always helps to hear from those who have come before you. Here are three producers who have all crafted uniquely excellent short films describing the biggest filmmaking problem they faced and the way they faced it.

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Villainous

Why Watch? If you’ve got a hankering for a new (and decidely more dark) spin on the Toy Story-pioneered “toys come to life!” genre and you’re in need of a sweet little slice of superheroics, Paul Constantakis‘ Villainous is the short film you’ve been waiting for. In a minimum amount of time, Costantakis lays out some very funny and very pointed visuals, all thanks to some of cinema’s worst villains…well, in toy form, at least. It seems as if someone is taking out the worst baddies of your classic childhood bedroom, and doing it with flash and flair. But who? Take a look, and just wait for that heroic reveal.

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Fitzpatrick Turturro

Often I see a real person in the news or in a documentary and my mind immediately comes up with an actor to portray him or her in a biopic. This happened this week when I watched a short film about failed prophet Robert Fitzpatrick, who last year spent his life savings on subway ads in NYC warning that the end of the world would happen on May 21, 2011 (exactly 19 months before the just-passed Mayan choice). The 13-minute documentary, titled We Will Forget, is directed by Garret Harkawik, and you can watch it in full after the jump. Above is a still of Fitzpatrick next to a photo of my choice to play him in a dramatic story of his life, John Turturro. Perhaps you’ll think of someone else (my wife was reminded more of Bob Balaban; you might prefer Zeljko Ivanek or James Rebhorn), but to me Turturro was just born to play this retired MTA worker from Staten Island. He’s like a cross between Turturro’s turn as the real-life Herbie Stempel from Quiz Show and his role as the lonely, reclusive brother on the TV series Monk. There are some other Turturro characters in there, as well, I’m sure. He could definitely do the accent, the mannerisms and the climactic display of confused disappointment seen sadly at the end of the short. As long as the movie itself garned enough attention, this could be a good part to finally earn Turturro his long-overdue Oscar nomination.

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The shorts programs at the New York Film Festival are not technically curated according to any specific theme. Yet rarely does a festival put together events like this without a trend or two sneaking in, unconsciously or otherwise. There are twelve short films. Six of them are quiet, melancholy sketches of loneliness. I’m not going to psychoanalyze the programmers, of course, which would be silly. I will, however, tell you why some of these little films rank among the most beautifully articulate representations of human emotion I’ve seen this year. On the surface, this is a wildly different bunch. Curfew is about a suicidal twenty-something in New York, while Saint Pierre follows a Québécois dishwasher living in English Canada. Night Shift looks at the troubled life of a cleaning woman at an airport in New Zealand, while on the opposite side of the world Nothing Can Touch Me examines the fallout of a high school shooting in Denmark. All four of these films grant us a brief glimpse into the solitary lives of their protagonists, whose troubles seem so close in kind despite the great physical and cultural differences between them.

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Mitt Romney’s comments about PBS and Big Bird during the presidential debate the other night struck a nerve with many a fan of public broadcasting and Sesame Street. And there are a lot of reasons movie fans shouldn’t favor a world without PBS, including all the documentary programming and now a new web series called Shanks FX. Part of PBS Digital Studios, the Internet-only show presents filmmaker and animator Joey Shanks (real name: Joe Schenkenberg) creating cheap and relatively easy practical special effects without a computer. “You don’t need a ton of money to create high-end visual effects,” the synopsis for the series claims. Interestingly, PBS does offer a warning at the beginning of each episode about how Shanks is a professional and viewers shouldn’t try these “activities” at home. Of course, if you’re a teenager hoping to one day become a pro effects artist — so long as non-CGI, “in camera” stuff is still of interest — you’re definitely going to attempt every one of these tricks, and Shanks even lays the episodes out like they’re intended to be instructional.

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Filminute

Filminute, the International One-Minute Film Festival, is looking for filmmakers who can cram their vision into 60 seconds or less. It’s a compelling challenge for everyone except the 5-second film team. For them, this would be epic. But if you have a camera and an idea that’s collapsable, they’re hungry for your work. You’ve got to have it into them by August 20th, so get crackin’. For more information, check out their call for entries. For inspiration, check out their highly inspirational Pinterest page. For short films of all sizes, feel free to peruse our curated collection. If you’re not filmmaking-ly inclined, this is the kind of short attention span festival that is perfect for all sorts of spectators, and we’ll be hosting a handful of the shorts that make the cut and play at the festival. Keep an eye out for those later in the month.

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When best-selling author Nick Santora wanted a way to get fans and entertainment industry officials excited about “Fifteen Digits,” he became a director. The result is a short film pulled from the book featuring Jimmi Simpson and Gino Anthony Pesi. Of course, Santora has a background – writing for shows like The Sopranos, Prison Break and Law and Order. He also wrote Punisher: War Zone and created the show Breakout Kings. He’s firmly entrenched in a world where everything is caught on camera, but he’s using that experience in a unique way when it comes to wearing his literary hat. We talk with the newly minted director about how turning to filmmaking to sell a book (and himself) has worked out. Plus, Jack Giroux and Rob Hunter face off in the Movie News Pop Quiz and then debate the merits of Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus. Download Episode #137

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It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of short films and of aspiring talent trying to get eyeballs on their work. That’s the very reason that we shine a bright spotlight on a short film every day of the work week, and it’s the same reason that we’re partnering with Playboy, Bombay Sapphire Gin and Talent House for a short film contest that will see one winner taken to Sundance 2012, handed a nice chunk of change, and featured at a private event at the festival. So how do you enter this glorious contest? It’s incredibly, ridiculously simple:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we celebrate the end of an era, talk to a first-time writer/director, discuss the fine art of short film creation with a seasoned hand, and hear from movie icon Wings Hauser. Wings Hauser, people. Max Winkler hit the festivals hard with Ceremony, his coming of age story starring Michael Angarano and Uma Thurman. Now it’s seeing a limited release, and he’s stopped by to discuss the benefits of getting your heart broken and the wrong way to crash a party. We featured the short film The Candy Shop on the site recently, and director Brandon McCormick was nice enough to share his production methods, talk about working with Doug Jones, and tell listeners how they can help fight sex trafficking in their own backyard. As if that weren’t enough, Wings Hauser joins us moments before a special screening of the 80s classic Vice Squad at the Alamo Drafthouse to talk about the confusing, wonderful nature of his latest co-starring role in Rubber and to generally be a badass. Plus, Erik Davis of Movies.com and Eric Snider from Film.com fight to the pain in our Movie News Pop Quiz (and join Scott Weinberg to talk about the end of Cinematical (as we know it) and what happened with HuffPo/Aol). Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk SXSW with the Reject team and find out why Netflix is doing what they’re doing. Gigaom site editor Ryan Lawler joins us to help makes sense of why Netflix would get into the distribution game with House of Cards and what it might mean for the future. Joe Nicolosi (who made that video of the girl retelling Star Wars without seeing it and that Super Mario indie short film the kids are talking about), discusses the perils of the SXSW softball game, how he got the job making all the bumpers that play before the movies, his creative process, and the beauty of film festivals. Neil and Rob dust off the SXSW from their chaps to tell us about their favorite films and the movies that will coming to a theater near you. Plus, Kate Erbland from Gordon and The Whale and Scott Weinberg from Twitch Film go head-to-head in our movie news quiz, and we all end up talking about Cameron Crowe and the power of nostalgia. Loosen up your tie and stay a while.

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Sunday Shorts

Today’s short is a spot-on parody of wildlife programs that would make the creators of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom tear up and applaud. Beyond its humor, the animation is clever and crisply done, and the educational value is immense. If you find yourself stranded in the desert, this video could save your life. Why Watch? It’s funny, yeah, of course. But it also uses an iconic movie monster as its scientific specimen. I would love to say which one, but the impact of that oh-so-British narrator’s voice saying it for the first time is far too good to ruin. What Will It Cost? Just five minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Only if we gave you an ice cream sandwich to eat while you watched. So check out Monstrous Wildlife for yourself:

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Red Dead Redemption

Since Roger Ebert doesn’t consider video games art, he can go suck a rattlesnake. Meanwhile, at Film School Rejects, we celebrate the cinematic qualities, and the John Hillcoat short film, of Red Dead Redemption.

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Oscar-nominated Shorts in Austin

If you live in Austin, educate yourself for when the nominees are called for Best Animated and Live Action Short during this year’s Oscars by checking them out all this week.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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