"Why'd you join?" There's tons of Star Wars fan films out there, but it's nice to see something brand new that connects directly with The Force Awakens. Jakku: First Wave is a quick, 3-minute short film made by filmmaker Benjamin Eck about three Stormtroopers about to land on Jakku (the desert planet from The Force Awakens) for the Battle of Jakku. It's a simple concept and was made on a very small budget, but it's an engaging and effective little short that provides yet another unique perspective from the Star Wars universe. The dialogue is what stands out the most, with a tiny bit of levity and a lot of emotion. Take a look.
"Outside of these walls, there are no guarantees." Another outstanding short film to watch. Dust is a sci-fi, fantasy short film produced by Ember Labs and directed by Mike Grier. We originally featured the teaser trailer for this short film way back in 2013, a year after it was on Kickstarter getting funding. Now it's finally complete and it's gorgeous, some of the best short film cinematography I've seen all year (by Michael Nie), with some incredible world-building and mythology to draw you deeper into the story. This was shot on location in remote areas of Japan with VFX added later. The film follows a tracker who takes a black-market merchant out into the wilderness to find the source of the "dust" that is poisoning the air. There's all kinds of cool flora and fauna hidden throughout this, and the main character (named Irezumi) is awesome. Enjoy.
"Tomorrow holds your final trial as Lookouts…" Short films just keep getting better and better. Lookouts is a homemade short directed by David Bousquet (who is also the film's director of photography) inspired by a Penny Arcade comic series about "Lookouts" scouts who head into a deadly forest to hunt a creature. This live-action short follows one of the scouts, Pehn, who escaped the first attack and is being tracked by the basilisk. You'll be amazed to discover that "the majority of the film is shot practically with live visual effects." They made "sets, costumes, and monsters inspired by Jim Henson's creations from our childhood" and filmed this in Mendocino. It's seriously astonishing how good this is, and you'll wish it was even longer.
"You know, that wagon used to be your dad's. What say we take it out for a spin?" Well, now this is just wonderful. Brandon Oldenburg has made a short film called Taking Flight that is inspired by the life and heritage of Antonio Pasin, the Italian inventor of the Radio Flyer wagon. The short tells the story of a boy named Tony who spends the day with his grandpa Nonno and ends up going on an unexpected adventure. There's a really beautiful blend of animation styles in this, along with some lovely music to top it off. This reminds me a bit of that movie Radio Flyer from my youth, where two kids build a Radio Flyer wagon that actually flies. This is also just an outstanding original short worth five minutes of your time to watch. Enjoy.
"You could taste the energy of a group thrilled to be together, on an island that doesn’t exist anywhere else." By now you should've already seen Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings, as the film has been playing in theaters for a few weeks and we've been singing its praises ever since. In honor of the release, Universal partnered with a filmmaker network called "The Smalls" and brought a group of animators to their studio in Portland, Oregon. After visiting and getting a look at their process, these four filmmakers put together their own short films inspired by Kubo and the Two Strings and they're wonderful (hosted by Little White Lies). Beyond just being impressive creations of their own, it's exciting to see how one of the year's best movies is inspiring people in different ways. This movie is seriously stellar and this should be yet another push to go see it if you haven't already (or to go see it again, because why not!). Check out the shorts embedded below.
"I can do this!" Another outstanding short film that is worth your time. This one is titled Beyond, and it's from writer/director Jeremy Haccoun (see @JeremyHaccoun). This is also exciting to watch because we originally featured this back in 2012 when it was looking for funding on Kickstarter, now four years later you can see the completed short film and it's impressive. Haccoun wanted to make an adventure film that hearkens back to the Spielberg movies of the 80s, like Indiana Jones and The Goonies, and he certainly achieved that. Even the score is pretty much a John Williams throwback. This is also the kind of fun film where a kid does something crazy, but pulls it off, which is cool because this should inspire kids to be brave.
Life's a bitch. Yes it is. This amusing must see short film is from French director François Jaros and it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival in 2014. It's a comedic look at how great and how terrible life is, covering all the ups and downs of one man's adulthood in just over 5 minutes. Life's a Bitch isn't the most creative short film I've ever seen, but it is genuinely funny and considerably authentic. The main guy in this, played by Guillaume Lambert, also wrote the screenplay. If you need a reminder that life isn't always perfect every single day, or if you just need a good laugh, then fire it up below.
Disney has launched a fun short film for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that is actually a commercial for the new toys and collectibles from this upcoming spin-off movie. Some have described it as similar to "Robot Chicken", with various action figures and toys and Lego minifigs being animated with stop-motion and other trickery in an adventure to steal the Death Star plans - just like the movie! No surprise there. The focus is on the badass new hero, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones in the film. Director Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn, also makes an appearance as does the new droid K-2SO. This short was actually made by fans, and they've also launched a contest for more fan-made short films - find out more here & have fun.
"Albatross welcomes you. Prepare for docking." Sometimes fans come up with tributes that rival the actual work, and this is a great example of that. This new Star Trek fan film, titled Chasing The Infinite Sky, was released at the end of July timed with the opening of Star Trek Beyond. Created by Albert Martinez entirely in his own spare time, with VFX co-created by Ricardo Elliott, the short is about Captain Storm piloting a new experimental ship called the U.S.S. Albatross. It focuses more on space travel than anything else, inspired by J.J. Abrams' visuals, but it's still seriously impressive and enjoyable to watch even if you're not the biggest Trekkie. There isn't much of a story but that doesn't bother me because it's so nice to look at.
"Guys, it's just my mom!" Today's impressive short film worth watching is called Where You Are, a rather peculiar yet fascinating story about a hide-and-seek game gone awry. The story starts when a mother begins playing a harmless game of hide-and-seek with her son James, but suddenly ends traveling through time trying to find him. Sounds odd, but it's good. I love the way this plays out, just flowing from one moment to the next without much time to figure out what's going on (much like life, right?) yet it's obviously intricately planned out. This is the kind of short film that will make you realize there's still great ideas out there. Enjoy.
"Still wearing the cape?" Today's must see short film discovery is titled Loudini, a charming and amusing story about a struggling magician who goes by the nickname "Loudini". Made by the same guys who made the short film Foureyes that we featured a few years ago, Loudini is described (by the filmmakers) as their "mash up of Punch Drunk Love, Inside Llewyn Davis and King of Comedy". That's an eclectic yet appealing pitch that should grab a few of you. The short also has a performance by the musician Car Seat Headrest. This is a great example of a simple idea made grand and engaging by smart filmmaking choices. Have fun.
"He really just needs someone to be here… for him…" One of the horror short films that played at last year's Fantastic Fest was this short, titled House of Straw, about a married couple dealing with some problems. Written & directed by Kyle Bogart, the film is about a troubled marriage that is on the verge of falling apart, but at the same time this has a twist because it's actually a werewolf story. It's best just to dive in and watch the entire thing and see for yourself, especially if you're a fan of werewolf stories or watching indie short films that come with a great script. This is an impressive little short that shows quite a bit of promise not only with the story but also the production. A feature version of this is already in the works. Have fun.
"How many times have you done this? And how many times have you been caught?" The short film we're featuring this week is actually connected with a feature film arriving in theaters over the next few months. Titled Transpecos, the film is about three Border Patrol agents working a remote desert checkpoint - see the trailer here. Before making the feature, director Greg Kwedar and producer Clint Bentley made a short film titled Dakota, also about Border Patrol agents who aren't the stereotypical agents we've all heard about on the news. The story is about a discovery in a truck that causes one agent "to question the very nature of his job". It's an impressive little short film and it's cool to see that this was the inspiration directly leading to the feature-length film. This is also a good look at what it takes to make a career as a filmmaker.
Take a look at the three winning short films from this year's Jameson First Shot international short film competition supported by Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kevin Spacey and Trigger Street Productions. This is the fifth year of the Jameson First Shot contest, and three filmmakers were chosen from around the world to make short films starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and produced by Trigger Street. A few weeks back we wrote about the winners and who they were, now we finally get to see the short films they made. These were first premiered at an event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, now they can be seen online in full. In addition, we had the chance to ask one of them, Cameron Thrower, a few questions about breaking into the industry.