Who Likes Short Shorts? Film Festival @ The Post Theatre 06.03

Posted June 15, 2011 in
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Audience filling in before festival begins. Photo: Amy Young
There are no clear rules in short films, so what do you look for when watching one: story, art, length? The Who Likes Short Shorts Film Festival, which began screening submissions from local filmmakers in fall of 2010, features short films focusing on wide ranging subjects in all genres. The filmmakers are faced with the task of telling and developing a story that takes up a fraction of the time it would take to tell a story in a feature-length film. Some of the shorts do this effectively by creating a scenario that gives just enough information and back-story to make viewers believe what is happening on the screen. Others are not so successful––the biggest hitch can be managing time ineffectively, causing pieces of the story to fall into place unnaturally. The films screened also ranged in time and substance, so a movie that takes place in three minutes might manage to have more substance and interesting material than something that is fifteen minutes long. One thing is clear when making a short film: you shouldn't take yourself too seriously.

Love Sick
4 min 32 sec
Submitted by: Kevin Lacy
A young gentleman is zanily driven in pursuit of the love of his life only to find himself obstructed by life, the universe and everything. This wonderfully timed film is great in its slapstick presentation of utter desperation. While some of the devices are predictable in their delivery, our brief encounter with the protagonist and his plight left me feeling sympathetic towards his rough journey (and hatred of Justin Bieber).

Snatchers
7 min 32 sec
Submitted by: Kyle Chittenden
This tip of the hat to the film noir detective genre is the story of a man determined to uncover the mystery of a missing cat and some broken vases. The narrative is clever but isn't able to carry this film, as the story starts to lag a bit near the conclusion, but the use of some good running gags maintained a good sense of humor that accounted for more than a few chuckles throughout the film.

Albino Rain Drops
5 min
Submitted by: Gary Turnier
HELL YA! A group of middle-aged looking high school students break out into a sweet John Hughes era song and dance in this super rad new wave music video. I've never been so happy to see so many adults wearing so much eye shadow in one place.

Soft Focus
6 min 30 sec
Submitted by: Jason Falsco
This was clearly a labor of love for filmmaker Jason Falasco. He starred in, wrote, directed and produced this story about a passive aggressive photographer, who deals with his frustration with his clients by day-dreaming about the violent and profane ways in which he would really like to deal with their annoying tendencies. Through his irritating interactions with one particularly snarky lady and her popped collar sporting d-bag boyfriend, he is able to find the love of his life in the bridesmaid of the bitchy babe. A great deal of time is spent establishing the relationship the photographer has with his over the top client which leads to some funny back and forth between the characters. I'm sure anyone who has ever worked in customer service can relate to this, but I actually felt myself growing painfully annoyed with the obnoxious customer to the point of exhaustion. Once we were finally given the opportunity for the love story to really unfold, the story was over.

Fireflies
3 min 56 sec
Submitted by: Chad Shellabarger
The second music video of the night featured highly stylized shots that were well composed and brilliantly colored. The compelling imagery pulled me through Ron Pope's song, "Fireflies." The song and video compliment each other well in tone as a couple bask in love for each other on a romantic beach. Unfortunately, the stories unfolding in the song and in the images on the screen move at a different pace. Despite the lyrics telling us what is happening the entire time, I was left with a "Hey, wait a minute! Huh?" moment when the video ended. So much time was spent building up the relationship of the couple that I felt a little blindsided by the couple's parting at the end of the song. Chad Shellabarger did such a great job creating glowing and romantic images––he manages to make an old graffiti filled train house near the Great Salt Lake look like a great place to take a date.

Tilt
2 min 13 sec
Submitted by: Chase Weston
Guy with basement: "Hey, my wife finally let me put a poker table in the basement!" Guy with camera: "Astounding! I've got this camera; would you like to make a movie about two jive guys playing poker in their basement?" Guy with basement: "That sounds like a magnificent idea! Whatever shall we do to create something that people will want to watch?" Guy with camera: "I'm quite handy with a deck of cards. Maybe you can make some astounded faces as I do amazing things while dealing this deck of cards to you." Guy with basement: "What if we set it to an upbeat Lady Gaga song and wear funny hats?" Guy with camera: "Brilliant!"

Cabe's Rift
7 min 54 sec
Submitted by: Channing Lowe
Cabe, a fledgling inventor, manages to create a rift of sorts out of the lid of a mason jar that appears to lead to some sort of black hole in which items disappear with no trace upon entering. Cabe is able to sell his invention as a means to eliminate all of the world's trash, carbon and other unwanted materials with no apparent environmental consequence or impact. Or so he thought. This amazing look at the desire to find a quick fix to our problems with little effort is delightfully simple in delivery by using little dialogue and funny imagery that screams Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." This short even features special effects that aren't too big for its britches that add nicely to the overall humor.

The Devil Works In Mysterious Ways
5 min 12 sec
Submitted by: Ben Sant
I've often found myself wondering about the number of electronics found in pawnshops that have been plagued by demonic possession. This is the tale of such a case as an unsuspecting woman makes an unwise purchase from the "possessed" section of her local pawn shop, only to be driven to the brink of insanity by an unruly radio with a penchant for a little of Satan's own country music. Kami Coleman is convincingly driven into hysterics by the assaulting cassette player as she jives and connives.

Memories
3 min 54 sec
Submitted by: Brett Draper
This tale of the mind-bending memory lapses that can be induced by tragedy is excellently told by being short and to the point. A man is distraught by the unexplained absence of his wife after the two get into a heated argument only to find that he may have blocked out something far more sinister than he was able to recall. In just under four minutes we are given only the most important information to tell this story effectively, as each shot reveals another major piece of the puzzle.

Reue
18 min 6 sec
Submitted by: James Cawley
This black-and-white war flick is a tribute to the likes of "Saving Private Ryan" with its gritty texture and shaky camera movement. The use of light and dark contrast is harnessed and used effectively to reflect the characters' changes in mood and emotion as two American soldiers fleeing German troops find themselves with an enemy prisoner. Reue was the second place winner of the night, but I felt there needed to be more balance between the story and the brilliant imagery. Unfortunately, the story pulled some elements out of the war story handbook such as the "girl back home" bit and the "I just can't bring myself to kill this dude" lines that added to the longer running time, which probably could have been shortened to make for a more compelling and evenly paced telling.

Face to Face
10 min 42 sec
Submitted by: Spanky Ward
The first place winner of the evening, Face to Face is the story of a man living his life free of aspirations and friction who is confronted by his thrill seeking dark side. The eerily presented material would do any Rod Serling fan proud as this deep and dark story is peppered with sarcasm and humor that is reminiscent of the old '50s-era "Twilight Zone" episodes. The lead character is sitting at a table having a debate with his alternate persona; the dynamic between the dueling personalities is kept lively by the contrasting characteristics of the two.

Sente Sente
5 min 50 sec
Submitted by: Aj Brooks
A street brawl filmed on site in inner Uganda turns into an intense chase flick filled with surprisingly fast-paced hand-to-hand combat. Brooks uses color and speed to give the race through the streets an animated feel as much of the action blurs together with little to discern than a bright yellow shirt on the action star or the red back he is seeking out. Despite the strong action sequences, Brooks is still able to twist the story into an exercise in morals and doing the right thing.

In The Company of Friends
10 min 40 sec
Submitted by: Thom Jensen Jr.
We are quickly brought up to speed as we are thrown into the middle of a murder mystery among a small group of friends living it up in a swanky vacation pad wrought with blood and gore as they are offed by a malicious menace. The final survivors are left in a stand off of Joss Whedon proportions as they hurl witty dialogue back and forth. There is a good deal of back story that is needed to let viewers know why the main characters have ended up in this situation, and this makes for some humorous instances where confessions of love and jealousy are shared at knife and gun point. Unfortunately, the sound was mixed poorly which made the shrill argument a little painful to listen to.

Special Features
4 min 55 sec
Submitted by: Thom Rockwell
Female home video fans can rest easy now that their male counterparts' inappropriate and chauvinistic comments about sexy leading ladies can be corrected by the new DVD special features that can zap their crotch and punch or explode their faces as they make unruly remarks. This film was a little tricky to follow due to some audio issues, but the main idea of women being able to try to leash their significant others and any sexist remarks they might make while watching movies was apparent in the late-night commercial format. This short is worthy of Tromadance in that it is weird, kind of off-putting and still entertaining. I would stay up for more infomercial marathons if there were half as much creativity in a Pocket-Fisherman ad.

Robot Girlfriend
5 min 25 sec
Submitted by: Danny Chadwick
The dream of having the perfect programmable robot woman is challenged as a geeky cyber-humper is called out by his cyber-lady as being a pussy during a relaxing picnic in the park. This is what I imagine would happen if the Sci-Fi channel and Oxygen Network shacked up and had babies as the menstrual robot calls out her owner's emotional shortcomings. This film gives an alternate look into robot sex slaves and what unexpected results one might have with them if they don't go berserk and kill everyone. Apparently they call you names and make you feel bad.

Offing Adolf
16 min 30 sec
Submitted by: Eric Fisher
Is this anything less than pure genius? I think not! Two professors develop a time machine to take out an unexpectedly vulnerable Hitler, which of course has unpredictable effects on the space-time continuum. The unapologetic delivery of disturbing punch lines and ideas is only boosted by the straight-faced performances of leads Eric Fisher and Christopher Larsen. There is great production value in this campy time bender. The special effects border the sheer awesomeness of a laser light show on any mixture of non-prescription supplements.

X96
3 min 30 sec
Submitted by: James Cawley
James Cawley has a great understanding of what makes an effective image, well showcased in this post-apocalyptic reflection on the last ditch efforts of humanity to save itself. An impressive use of special effects really brings this film to unexpected visual heights, although the story is a little unclear, I don't think the viewer minds so much because of what is happening before their eyes. Cawley's use of silence is especially effective in creating a sprawling sense of seclusion.

Block
11 min 53 sec
Submitted by: Chadd Harbold
This short, which won third place, took me back to being a kid awkwardly watching a friend's parents get into a fierce argument during a sleep over––feeling thick tension and helplessness as a scary situation unfolds before my eyes. A small town girl from Alaska is trying to keep it together in Brooklyn as she is confronted with the many intense situations that can jump out at the drop of a hat in a scary place. A trip to the corner market for some ice-cream turns into an out-of-control interaction with a local. She is forced to defend herself against a rage-fueled man looking to rape her in the middle of the store. The confrontation is so intense that you instantly feel like you are one of the other bystanders in the store, wishing you could say something. It is beautifully shot and utilizes dingy fluorescent lighting and atmosphere to create a sense of claustrophobia and panic.

Aching To Sneeze
4 min 36 sec
Submitted by: Who Likes Short Shorts? Collaboration
This shadowy short could very well be a follow up to Robert Rodriguez's "The Spirit," as it utilizes similar techniques down to the animated black-and-white blood splatters to help unfold this story of revenge and some random bad-ass who can take out the toughest of tough guys in a mere moment while shaking down some foxy lady. This collaboration among various Who Likes Short Shorts contributors shows the strengths of all contributors in the quality of the filming, set, costuming, etc. As for production value, this really does rival Rodriguez's own creation and is a success in saying "Hey, we could totally do that." Now if they could get Samuel L. on board ...
Photos:
Audience filling in before festival begins. Photo: Amy Young Ian Scharine (WLSSFF Marketing Director) and Alexis Archibald (Short Shorts Volunteer). Photo: Amy Young Left to Right; Diana Montero, Associate producer, Jack Diamond and Chase Weston, Producers of the Short Shorts Film Festival.  Man in audience standing up cheering for prize, Knut Lindsley. Photo: Amy Young Left to right; Jack Diamond, Short Shorts Producer, Spanky Ward, first place winner for his film, "Face to Face." Photo: Amy Young