"You knew this was going to be a suicide mission, didn't you?" There's always an abundance of new Star Wars fan films this year, but few of them are really this good. TK630 is an excellent, 10-minute Star Wars fan film short about a scout trooper - directed by Brendan H. Banks, an up-and-coming cinematographer who also shot this film. Marooned on a forest planet, an Imperial scout trooper hunts a lone Jedi, when he discovers an unexpected ally. Starring Josh Ruben & Starla Bolle, with Charlie McWade & Abe Danz. This is basic but good, and a nice twist focusing the story on an Imperial "bad guy." It's worth a quick watch.
"For those who support our dreams." Another wonderful short to brighten up your day (or week, perhaps?). One Small Step is the first short made by a brand new animation studio called Taiko Studios. Founded by Shaofu Zhang, who worked at Disney for years on films including Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana, the studio is a powerful new animation house that operates between America and China. Co-directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas, who worked with the animators in China from their offices in Burbank, is about a Chinese-American girl with great big dreams of becoming an astronaut. This definitely borrows a bit from the Pixar and Disney playbooks, but it's still charming and beautifully animated anyway. Watch below.
"Who are all these people?" Nothing like a funny short film set in a romantic city to brighten up your day! Ciao Lola is a short comedy made by producer / filmmaker Oscar Boyson, running only six minutes in total. It was filmed in Venice back in 2016, and is now available to watch online. The short stars Jane Levy (from Fun Size, Evil Dead, About Alex, Don't Breathe, Monster Trucks) as Lola and Thomas McDonell as Peter, a couple visiting the gorgeous Italian city. There's some unexplained subtext to this that isn't implicit, but you'll figure it out as it goes along. I like the playfulness of this, and all the lovely shots of Venice. Enjoy!
"Mostly you find echoes of tragedy… But then - something finds you." Whoa. Now this is something. I love discovering a mesmerizing new short film that affects me in a deep, meaningful way. Scavenger is a sci-fi short film created by filmmaker Raphael Rogers (follow him here) by weaving stock footage and original content together. The story follows a planetary scavenger who has been scouring planets to find something new or useful. He hasn't found much, but one day he comes across an ancient probe sent from planet Earth - what happens next changes him forever. The short stars Jowaan Sullivan and Lauren Gottlieb. This is a really beautiful film that's impressive not only for its story, but because it was made by using mostly existing stock footage, yet it still feels entirely authentic and unique. This is a must watch - only three minutes long.
"One extra push, one extra punch - that's all it takes." With the Toronto Film Festival coming to an end this weekend, we wanted to feature a short film made in Toronto showing how resilient and wonderful the city is. Heart of Resilience is a short film commissioned by the City of Toronto, made by filmmaking brothers Ryan Freeman and Brad Freeman, who run the studio Lossless Creative out of Toronto. This is the story of MJKO (official website), a non-profit boxing gym located in the lower income neighborhood of South Parkdale. The film shows how there are so many people and organizations working across Toronto to make it more resilient, and it's an uplifting look at how friendship and openness make a big difference in society. This is a really lovely documentary about regular people and how boxing has changed them. Watch below.
"The mind has its own place… and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." What the?! Visitor Studios has released an official trailer for a short film titled They Wait For Us, which is currently playing at a few more film festivals before it ends up online. Usually we don't post trailers for shorts, but I'm making an exception for this because this looks incredible. Co-directed by VFX artists Lukas Schrank & George Thomson, the short is set in a near-future end-of-life care facility, where a reclusive hospital worker starts to believe a coma patient is secretly communicating with him. Described as a "haunting mini-masterpiece that’s as visually arresting as it is spiritually compelling." I don't even really know what's going on here, but the visuals in this trailer are trippy and entrancing, and I can't wait to see the full short. Check it out below.
"You're not the only one lookin' for them." More work from Jeff Nichols and Michael Shannon? Yes, please. Long Way Back Home is a new short film written and directed by filmmaker Jeff Nichols. The short was made to promote the release of the album "Among the Ghosts" from the band Lucero, which includes Jeff's brother Ben Nichols on vocals and guitar. It's sort of a music video, but not really. Michael Shannon stars in this, along with Garrett Hedlund, Scoot Mcnairy, Paul Sparks, and Ben Nichols. Shannon and Nichols have worked together on all five of his films previously: Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special, and Loving. Glad to see them continue to work together, always a thrill. Give this a watch.
"I want to see the future…" "What's in the future…?" Another compelling short film to watch, with a bit of a sci-fi twist. Instant is a short film directed by Alex Albrecht, produced by Roddenberry Entertainment, lead by Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, who is the son of legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett. After a desperate criminal takes a bar hostage, six people must face their demons - past and present - in order to survive. But one of them is keeping a big secret that could change everything in an instant. The film stars Tyler Hilton, Manu Intiraymi, Phil Morris, Emily Chang, Tony Janning, and Tara Perry. This short has a few strong performances, working with an intriguing script that explores some engaging ideas. I wish this was a bit shorter, might be more effective, but it's still a good short. Enjoy.
Dinosaur schminosaur. So this is where all the animals came from? Check out this funky, amusing, creative animated short film titled Shmevolution below. Made by Chicago-based animator Nolan Downs as his final graduation project from DePaul University, the short plays with the concept of evolution showing how creatures change into different forms. The story follows the life of one strange little organism as it evolves through an even stranger land. I also like the subplot of the black death being transferred by the mosquito, killing off a few creatures. I'm now a fan of Downs' work, I hope he continues to make more shorts. Dive in.
"It's the intensity; it's the purity of what you are seeing. No conscious interventions." Now this is the kind of sci-fi I'm hoping to discover. Kept is a sci-fi short made by Colombian filmmaker Jaime D. González. After first playing at a few film festivals last year, the short is now online in full for viewing for free. Set in the near future when scientists have discovered a way to record dreams, those with ulterior motives waste no time exploiting those with the most powerful dreams. Starring Jairo Camargo & Manuel Sarmiento. This is much more of a thought-provoking, "Black Mirror"-esque sci-fi than anything with big action. It goes to some dark places, but I appreciate how far they take the dream recording concept. I want to watch more.
"I am so not this girl, I never do this." Don't be turned off by the headline, this is a very impressive dramatic short film. Angel of Anywhere is an award-winning short directed by James Kicklighter that has been playing at festivals this year. The story is about an empathetic stripper who chats with his clients and helps them work through their problems. It goes to some very deep, personal places, with a very intelligent script. Angel of Anywhere stars Briana Evigan as Michelle, Ser'Darius Blain as Brian, David A. Gregory as D.C., plus Nihan Gur, Adam Carr, Krystal Conway, and Axel Roldos. It's always great to see a story that challenges us to rethink our initial judgments, and listen more to each other. Definitely worth a watch.
"The old man wasn't that crazy after all, was he?" Time to dip our toes back into the Cloverfield universe. Megan is an impressive "proof-of-concept" 5-min sci-fi short film by a Polish VFX designer / filmmaker named Greg Strasz. It's directly inspired by Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane and the ARG for these and everything else (though not The Cloverfield Paradox, thankfully, since that film sucks). This also reminds me a bit of Battle Los Angeles, but I better not say that. Megan stars Matilda Lutz as Megan, along with Garret T. Sato, Ralf Moeller, Yuki Sakamoto, TJ Misawa, Edwin Modlin II, Paolo Bernardini, and a few others. This is very slick and well-made, I just wish there was more to it, as it ends very abruptly.