"What do you like about living on Earth?" Google Play has just premiered a short 10-minute documentary called EMIC, made in promotion for/and inspired by the sci-fi movie Interstellar and the idea of one day leaving Earth. Google has been working with Paramount on promoting Christopher Nolan's big epic sci-fi movie all along, with virtual websites for screenings during its release last year. Now it's about to hit Blu-ray soon and is out on iTunes now, so Google is putting out its centerpiece video, the final "culmination" of everything they've worked together on. Similar to Life in a Day, it's a doc that explores what life is like on Earth, to create a time capsule-like video to save and take with us when we one day leave Earth. It's actually quite beautifully made from wonderful footage. "This film is intended to go wherever mankind goes next."
"By the early 22nd century mankind had colonized many worlds…" This is awesome. We've been following Irish director Ruairi Robinson for quite some time, as he was once attached to the Akira movie (see his concept art), made that fantastic robot short Blinky, and his first feature was the sci-fi Last Days on Mars (which I wasn't a big fan of, but oh well). His latest project, or at least one of them in the works, is called The Leviathan and a proof-of-concept short teaser has just debuted online. It has kind of a Dune meets Pacific Rim vibe, with a group of "involuntary" hunters out capturing a giant flying alien beast to harvest its eggs. I love the camera work in this, and I really want to see the rest of the movie right away. Join the hunt.
Before Jemaine Clement became the star of films like Gentleman Broncos and this year's Sundance selected People, Places & Things and director of What We Do in the Shadows, and before Bret McKenzie became an Oscar-winning songwriter and part of Middle-Earth for Peter Jackson, the duo became famous as the humorous folk duo Flight of the Conchords. And one year before they had their hit show on HBO, they were playing shows at SXSW, and while on their Texas trip, they shot a 45-minute documentary. Of course, it's hilarious, but it's also fascinating to see them with fans before they made it big. Watch now!
"I'm going to fight my way out of this world!" There seems to be an oncoming trend with sci-fi involving virtual worlds, e.g. Second Life, most likely thanks to growing interest in virtual reality via Oculus Rift. A new short film called Immersion, written & directed by Raphael Rogers, has debuted online and it's a techno-thriller (though I probably shouldn't call it that) kind of inspired by The Matrix and Tron, about a virtual gaming platform called "Immersion". This 7 minute sci-fi short starts out pretty good, then gets a little choppy in the second half, almost as if he's trying to give us hints at a bigger story in the full-length feature. Which may be what's really going on anyway, another unique short hinting at the potential of more. It looks pretty cool and I'm intrigued by the premise, though I wish the story in the short was a bit clearer.
At the Academy Awards last weekend, a couple of little Sundance indie sensations won big awards. One of them was Whiplash (the other was Boyhood), written and directed by Damien Chazelle who was named multiple times by winners including J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor) & Tom Cross (Best Editing). The film also won Best Sound Mixing, taking home a total of three Oscars. It has been a long journey for Chazelle, as he first premiered Whiplash as a short film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. That short got him the financing to make the feature, and the rest is history. Whiplash was one of my favorite films of 2014 (#2!) so I'm happy it won; it's another excellent indie success story. Luckily, the original short is now online.
Who doesn't want a piranha for a pet? They're so cuddly! This fun new short film called Fish Friend from writer/filmmaker Jordan Blum features a girl and her piranha "goldfish" pet, and it's quite charming and bloody. As explained in the pitch: "Fish Friend is the story of a girl and her murderous pet piranha, inspired by 1950s Americana, Tim Burton, and the shorts of Pixar." There's some excellent stop-motion work in this, and it's just an amusing little short that might just be the perfect way to end your week. I love coming across interesting and unique short filmmaking as a way of showcasing a lot of the fantastic talent out there. And for an extra dose of daily inspiration, plus insight into different storytelling techniques. Don't miss this!
"Well, then I guess we have no choice than to go on an adventure…" Now this is awesome! Comedian/actor DC Pierson wrote a book called The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To, which director Dan Eckman (of Derrick Comedy's Mystery Team) is trying to get turned into a movie, but it needs our support. So he made a quick 5-minute short film proof-of-concept to show how awesome this would be, and it's pretty cool. Tony Revolori of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Dope stars with Jack Quaid of The Hunger Games. They use a line about how this is like a 3D printer for anything from the comic book, which is a cool pitch, and it works well. I really do want to see more, though hopefully as a movie not a TV show.
Previously we've seen a couple of impressive short films from producer Ari Shankar from the comic book universe. Joe Lynch directed Truth in Journalism, a take off on the Spider-Man character Venom, and Mike Pecci directed The Dead Can't Be Distracted, which was a bootleg version of The Punisher. Now Shankar is back with Power/Rangers, a gritty, R-rated, 14-minute short film directed by Joseph Kahn (Torque) that adapts "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers." The film certainly puts an interesting twist on the mythology of the Japanese imported action adventure, and it's much different from the eventual big screen take on the way. Plus, it stars James Van Der Beek and Katie Sackhoff, which is just completely surreal. Watch!
"Don't you dare let me go!" Wow - this is one outstanding, breathtaking animated short film. Cloudrise is a beautiful short animated and directed by Denver Jackson of "DJaxx Studio". The story focuses on Miko and Tenku, who fight off invading pirates on their airship, as this takes place in a "fantasy world above the clouds". The short has a kind of Legend of Korra meets Paperman vibe to it, and I'm really making this comparison in a good way, because those are two of my favorite animated creations in recent years. Aside from the stunning home-made animation, this is an excellent example of innovative storytelling, giving us bits and pieces of the story through creative editing and reveals. This is definitely worth your time to watch.
Tomorrow, today. You may not have heard of this one yet, but get ready. Don Hertzfeldt's mesmerizing new stick figure short film World of Tomorrow won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2015 this year, and earned some rave reviews as seen with the quotes that show up in this trailer. It's only a teaser trailer, giving us just a glimpse at the "astonishing… dazzling… spectacular…" short which is also playing at SXSW before hitting VOD at the end of March. I don't know what the plot is, but it involves stick figures and a little girl who goes on a "mind-bending tour of the distant future." One of the quotes in this talks about how it has more big ideas than most sci-fi, which is laughably absurd, but just enough to pique my interest.
Time for another interestingly unique short, this one a student film made as part of a 48 hour competition. Cinematographer Ryan Croft, studying at DePaul University, sent in this short titled Pomade. Yes, it's referring to the hair product, but the short is quite unique and only 3 minutes long. I expect some will say "there's not much going on in this!" And that's kinda true, but I like the style, and I like the feel of it. Croft explains in email: "It was part of a 48 hour film competition, and it’s heavily influenced by Strange Color of Your Bodies Tears and Upstream Color", the most recent Shane Carruth film. Give it a watch below.
"He was entirely alien, and hopefully people aren't aware of how he's being operated." This is an exciting year for Star Wars, with a brand new trilogy and the characters we all grew up with. One of everyone's favorite characters is Jabba the Hutt, and we all know he was an impressive puppet creation designed by Phil Tippett, but how exactly did he work? Well, Jabba required three puppeteers inside and three others operating various parts, from the smoke to his breathing. The man behind some fantastic "filmumentaries", Jamie Benning, has put together a new video called Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth - Life Inside Jabba the Hutt (love this title) and it's an excellent 20-min short doc on the operation of Jabba. Dive in.
"Someone wants to go on a walk…!" If you saw Disney's animated Big Hero 6 in theaters last year, you saw the wonderful short film before it called Feast from director Patrick Osborne. It's a delightful animated short told from the perspective of a dog that one boy adopts, and it's nominated for an Oscar. Well, similar to Feast, another short film has hit the web called Chloe and it's a live-action short film told from the POV of a dog (a golden retriever). This one tells a much more honest, real-life story and is a bit more "adult" we should say, but it's just as good. Made by the same filmmaker who gave us the short The Hatchling. Enjoy!
If you look at the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards, it's clear that there's a strong British presence this year, especially in the acting categories. Vanity Fair recently noticed this trend, and decided to let photographer Jason Bell create an all-UK edition of the magazine’s annual Hollywood portfolio. And since he already had some fantastic talents like Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Keira Knightley and more on set, he used the time to create a three-part short film chronicling the British invasion of Hollywood in the style of an old newsreel. Watch below now!