Short Films

Eraserhead

I love looking at filmmakers’ early work. Sure, it might be juvenile or lacking the grace of experience, but it’s also the artistic eye before fame, celebrity personas or narrowly honed visions. It’s the work they made before output was partially (if not totally) influenced by investors, studios and critics. First films can be like cinematic diaries of the directors’ vision – like David Lynch’s iconic Eraserhead, which is now on Criterion Blu-ray with almost all of his short films – or whiffs of artistry before the mainstream. Some, sadly, are still out of reach to the Internet masses, though they’d be fascinating first glimpses at cinematic themes and techniques. Long before 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen debuted with a revealing video installation, Bear, which only makes the rounds at live events. Kathryn Bigelow “plays down” her first film from 1978, The Set-Up, where Gary Busey and another guy fight each other as semioticians deconstruct the images – a film that certainly speaks to her future work, but hasn’t been released for modern audiences. And though someone who thinks they’re clever put up a slave scene on YouTube, insisting it was Spike Lee’s first film, his debut – the Super 8 film Last Hustle in Brooklyn – is actually about “Black people and Puerto Rican people looting and dancing.” Those three might remain out of reach, but here eight filmmakers’ early visions that speak to humor, darkness, unexpected twists, and for one – an artistry before an obsession with […]

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Feast

Last week, Disney opened its doors and allowed itself to be overrun by journalists, drawn in by the scent of new films and also free lunch. The main event was Disney’s latest feature, Big Hero 6, but like anything with the word Disney in front of it, the day started with a short. That short was Feast, directed by Patrick Osborne, which will eventually run in front of Big Hero 6 when it opens in theaters this November. For convenience’s sake, consider Feast as a Disneyfied version of Noah Takes a Picture of Himself Everyday for 6 Years — that long-ago Youtube sensation that first pioneered the idea of watching a guy’s under-eye bags expand in depressing superspeed. Except Disney smartly swapped out the depressed twenty-something for a spunky Boston terrier with a love of table scraps. Feast is a continual sequence of Winston (the terrier in question) being fed whatever his owner doesn’t feel like finishing. Up until the end (where Osborne throws a few kinks into the formula), it’s largely the same shot, every single time: a static, dog’s eye-level view of a dog dish, stacked to the brim with cold, uninviting kibble. From above descends a burly hand, which holds an extra-large plate, which is slowly tipped until its half-eaten contents slide free, landing with a splat on top of that stale pile of Alpo.

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Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014

Everyone hates that one person at the Oscar party who’s seen absolutely every movie that’s been nominated and who goes to great lengths to make sure everyone else hears their opinions on each one, just to let them know that they’re only rooting for their favorites out of a place of ignorance and to shame them for basically being Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday movie watchers. Unless, of course, you are that person. Then there’s no greater thrill than lording your superior knowledge over the riffraff who just showed up to drink wine and hover over the cheese platter. As far as Oscar parties go, the only thing better than being the person who’s seen more of the nominees than anyone else is being the person who gets sat next to the cheese. Seeing as it would probably be in our best interests to keep our dignity and not become known as the most desperate snack-snatcher come this Sunday, being the smarmiest smarty-pants should be the goal we shoot for. Given our strategy, the biggest hurdle we’re going to need to get over when it comes to having a complete knowledge of what deserves to be praised and what deserves to be shamed come awards time is obviously the short films. Let’s be honest here, nobody is ever able to get around to all of the shorts by the time the ceremony happens. That could all change today though, because now there’s a way you can binge watch them all […]

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Why Watch? Because if you’ve yet to experience the genius of Nash Edgerton‘s wicked little shorts (including the equally as jump-out-of-your-skin Spider), you’re in for a real treat (and probably a scream) from his Sundance short, Bear, which is finally available online a whole year after making me scream bloody murder at last year’s festival. Don’t watch this one at work, you’ll probably just make a fool of yourself when you yell and fall over. It’s just that good. What will it cost? Just a hair less than 11 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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Why Watch? Filmmaker David Lowery just wowed audiences at Sundance with his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, so it seems fair to assume that we’ll be hearing his name a lot more in the coming months, so why not get acquainted with some of his previous work post-haste? Meet My Daily Routine, a short film that was commissioned by Fortnight Journal last year. In it, Lowery introduces us to, well, his daily routine as a writer…with some surprises. What will it cost? Less than 3 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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And with that, that Sundance Film Festival ended a week of truly exciting programming announcements. The venerable fest has now released the full listing of their Short Film program, and it’s rounded out with all sorts of recognizable names (including Nash Edgerton, Spencer Susser, Kat Candler, and Morgan Spurlock) and a pack of up-and-comers that might just be The Next Big Thing. The shorts run the gamut in terms of subject matter – synopsis-friendly buzzwords that pop out us include “metal band,” “problem child,” “tragic consequences,” “cinematic tweets,” “fallen-from-grace artisan,” and “self-serving fantasies” – so there’s definitely something here for everyone. We’re most excited about those cinematic tweets, truth be told. After the break, check out all a comprehensive listing of all the short films that will show at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, including U.S. Narrative Shorts, International Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, and New Frontier Shorts.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Last Wednesday, Austin Film Society moderated a discussion at Austin Studios between Kelly Williams, Kat Candler, David Zellner and Clay Liford titled Short Filmmakers Bridging the Gap to Features. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend that event, but it’s existence did prompt me to begin pontificating about the various strategies that Austin filmmakers are employing in attempting to take their careers to the next level. Short films definitely seem to be the most obvious place to begin. Most of us who studied film in college understand some of the roles that short films can play in establishing one’s career. Shorts are like calling cards in the film industry. You can make shorts as an economic way to prove to others that you know how to write, direct, shoot, edit and/or act. Personally, I have always liked the idea of shooting a segment of a feature film and releasing that as a short in order to rally up interest and support for the feature. This gives potential funding sources the opportunity to see the vision of the filmmaker and gain a better understanding of the style and tone of the yet-to-be-made feature.

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Filminute Festival

If you only had a minute to tell a story, what would you say? Would it be enough time to express great human sorrow? A gut-punch of a laugh? As it turns out, filmmakers from all over the world achieve this feat every year at the Filminute International One-Minute Film Festival. Currently in its 7th year, executive director John Ketchum is once again issuing the challenge to everyone to deliver a strong movie in only a minute. It seemed only fair to give him a single minute to pitch his film festival. We go slightly over, but maybe that’s just more proof of tough the challenge is. The online festival will run during the month of September, and you can check out the entire proceedings at Filminute’s website, but for now, here’s Ketchum with a bit about their philosophy and what you can expect. Check out the incredibly brief interview below: Download This Interview Enjoy More Reject Radio

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“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

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Here is the place where I will start screaming about how everyone needs to just shut up and make room on their calendar to check out V/H/S because it’s so fun and scary and cool and such a great midnight film and so great to see with a crowd and then I’ll run out of breath from this ludicrous run-on sentence and get back to at least the appearance of professionalism. Joining their previously announced feature line-up, SXSW has now released their full listing of all films showing at the film festival this year, including Midnight features and a positively huge schedule of short films (including narrative shorts, documentary shorts, global shorts, music videos, Texas shorts, and Texas high school shorts). Some highlights to look out for on the Midnight beat include V/H/S (duh), the world premiere of Austin Chick’s Girls Against Boys, the U.S. premiere of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Intruders, and some form of “Super Secret Screening.” On the shorts side? How about Nash Edgerton’s wicked little Bear, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s A Brief History of John Baldessari, Kat Candler’s Hellion, and Don Hertzfeldt’s it’s such a beautiful day? Check out the (now totally) complete listing below of the feature and short films playing at SXSW 2012!

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UPDATED: The shorts programs will be available in over 200 theaters across the United States and Canada. Check out theater information HERE! Earlier today, two things happened – I sat down with an iced coffee to peruse the latest offerings from Los Angeles’ American Cinematheque (which shows films and special programs at both the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica) and my inbox was hit with a press release concerning the all of the Oscar-nominated shorts and their release later this month. You can guess the connection! Every Oscar night, even hardcore cinephiles find themselves scratching their heads when the three shorts categories come up – documentary, live-action, and animation. What are these films? And how could I have seen them? Well, as of today, the full program of Oscar Nominated Short Films will be released (thanks to ShortsHD) in New York City on February 10, with Los Angeles openings for the animation and live-action programs coming on February 10 (Landmark’s Nuart Theatre and West LA locations, and Regency Theatres’ South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana), with the documentary program hitting Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 on February 17. Or, if you’re an obsessive art house calendar-reader like me, you’ll also realize that you can check out all three programs at the Egyptian on various dates: documentaries on February 17 and both live-action and animation on February 24. For those of you in New York or Los Angeles, I encourage you to take the opportunity afforded […]

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According to a press release that left blood all over my inbox, Lee Hardcastle – a filmmaker twice featured in our illustrious Short Film of the Day feature – has won the chance to see his work next to 25 of the best horror filmmakers working today in the anthology picture The ABCs of Death. Drafthouse Films and Timpson Films held a contest that saw 170 entries narrowed down to 13 by the voting public. Those top 13 were then shown to the directors involved in the production, and they voted Hardcastle as the winner. T is For Toilet features a young boy who is learning to use the toilet all by himself, and the horrific monster that we all know lives inside all of our johns has different plans for him and his family. It should be shown to all potty training young ones, alongside this magical gem. Runners up, T is for Talk by Peter Haynes; T is for Turbo by Francois Simard, Anouk Whissel and Yoann-Karl Whissel; T is for Table by Shane Free; and T is for Termite by Steve Daniels will all be invited to be included in the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film. In the mean time, check out T is for Toilet for yourself:

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If you look at the box office numbers that Disney’s 3D re-release of The Lion King did not too long ago, it’s clear that there is more than a little interest out there for seeing some of the studio’s classic efforts being once again released on the big screen. So Beauty and the Beast 3D probably doesn’t need any assistance when it comes to drawing families to the theaters. Regardless, an announcement that Walt Disney Pictures made today confirms that it’s going to get some heavyweight help whether it needs it or not. Disney’s animation department has hit a bit of a slump in the last decade, not being able to recreate the magic of its classic releases or its second golden age that came in the 90s; but one film that has bucked the trend of disappointment and gone on to become quite a success is the studio’s retelling of the Rapunzel legend Tangled. The film was a success financially, praised critically, and I myself know a two-year-old little girl who watches it about three times a day. So she and millions of other little kids will undoubtedly be thrilled to hear that an animated short, Tangled Ever After, is going to be released in front of Beauty and the Beast 3D come January 13th.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a wild summer romp disguised as a prestige flick. We toss together some of the news that your brain needs to hold most tightly to for fear of losing it forever. Do you dare know what can’t be unknown? Since it’s going to be a bizarre (fiercely sexual) post tonight, we start off with the innocent pleasure of shoes. Custom painted movie shoes to be specific. For full disclosure, yes, PeregrinePaints over at Etsy is a friend of the site, but who cares? Her stuff is very cool, the work speaks for itself, and you can dictate exactly what you want painted on your kicks. Not a bad deal, especially for the super-fan who can’t understand why Nike hasn’t produced as an official El Topo sneaker yet.

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A while back Seth Rogen and his usual gang of friends put together a mock trailer for a film called Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, which was set in the ravaged remains of a post-Apocalyptic Earth and told the story of Rogen and Jay Baruchel trying to get along squatting together in some rubble. Perhaps I shouldn’t call it a mock trailer, because that’s not necessarily true. It was more of an audition tape that hoped to drum up some interest in getting the film made for real, as a feature length project. It seems to have worked. While doing a recent interview promoting the soon to be released 50/50, Rogen let slip to Movies.com that the script was in the can, and that the film would begin shooting in February. Rogen said that his usual co-writer Evan Goldberg was also involved in the project, and that this time the duo would be sharing the title of co-directors as well. Those guys, they’re inseparable. People are going to start talking. Will Baruchel be returning to reprise his role in the short? Of course. And according to Rogen that’s just the beginning. He said, “It’s now much more than just Jay and Seth — there’s many other people vs. the apocalypse now. It’s gonna be crazy.” If you haven’t watched the original trailer yet, give it a go below, and then let me know what you think about it getting the go ahead to become a real movie. I generally […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is (d) all of the above. “La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances.” That’s the opening of the synopsis to Pixar’s La Luna, the short that will play the Annecy International Animation Festival next month in France. It’s our adorable headlining image. (Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)

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For years, scientists have known exactly how the continents got their shape and placement on the Earth, but they’ve kept it hidden from us because the truth is a bit too shocking. It’s also the cause of the dead birds and fish, the missing single socks in laundromats, and why the moon keeps turning you into a werewolf. Fortunately, the fine folks behind the Ice Age movies have just released a fantastic short featuring their beloved Scrat – the Buster Keaton of pre-historic rodents. Watch, learn and laugh:

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Sunday Shorts

With both Catfish and The Social Network, we’re thinking more and more about how the internet has affected our physical lives. This is not some grand revelation or big surprise considering how embedded in the culture our binary personae are – in fact, it was suggested decades ago and not seen as some sort of crazy prognostication by mad men. It was accepted as what would eventually happen as more and more people plugged in. One such prognostication came in the form of a short film from 2001 called The Parlor. It’s now more relevant and more entertaining than it was back then. And, in the interest of being mysterious (since that’s what sells films these days), I’ll rhetorically ask in big bold letters: WHAT IS THE PARLOR?

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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