Almost a year ago we featured a trailer for a short film called Confusion Through Sand, which was set to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The short is hand-drawn on recycled paper, and looks nothing like anything we've ever seen before. Not only that, but the camera movements are amazing. It tells the story of a young soldier "in a hostile desert, scared as hell and trained to react," no doubt referencing the Iraq war. The director tipped me to let me know the short is now available online in full. Suffice it to say, it's a must watch, well worth the wait. One last warning: "this gets loud and intense and may be hard for some people."
"Some days you wake up, and life just kicks you in the bollocks." Yep. It's Monday, no ones wants to be at work, it's cold out there, the office probably has pranks planned. It's not going to be a fun day. Or is it? The short film Bad Day at the Office from director Nick Scott tries to put a spin on the old fashioned idea of a "bad day at the office". I won't even make the obvious Office Space comparison, because this is much more like Wes Anderson meets Lars von Trier than anything from Mike Judge, but whatever it takes to convince you this is worth 10 mins of your time. There's a polished, professional feel to this and the FX (including all the make-up) look great. It's not the best film I've ever watched, but it's the perfect short to start the week.
"'Is this what you want,' he asked. And I said 'yes.' So he took his skin off for me." Get ready for this. Ben Aston has premiered his short He Took His Skin Off For Me on Vimeo, after its debut at Fantastic Fest and Toronto After Dark Film Festival last year. Aston and his short films were recently profiled at SlashFilm (with a great interview), reminding me that I had been meaning to watch this short, one of his latest and it's so crazy, disgustingly good. Aston's other short, Russian Roulette, is playing at the Sundance Film Festival coming up. But before that, this is the must see - practical SFX make this one extraordinary "fairytale" of sorts. It's a perfect kind of unsettling yet seductively sweet one-of-a-kind creation. Have fun and turn it up.
You may not realize it, but despite working with director Martin Scorsese several times each, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio have never starred in the same project with the Oscar winner at the helm (though they did both appear together in Marvin's Room back in 1996). But that ends today with a set of commercials that Scorsese has directed for City of Dreams Manila, a new casino in Manila Bay, Philippines. The casino decided to go all out and spend a rumored $70 million on some kind of short film project with Scorsese, De Niro and DiCaprio, and now we get to see at least the beginning of the results. Watch below!
"38 days ago your beacon disappeared from radar." Wow. Here's a fantastic space adventure sci-fi short to kick off the new year. From director Eli Sasich & writer Clay Tolbert comes a 9-min short called Atropa, about an "off-world detective" who investigates a missing research vessel adrift in deep space. It's described as a concept short, for a feature or series, inspired by "'70s and '80s sci-fi classics like Alien and Blade Runner." There's some excellent VFX work in this, and some great sci-fi concepts that do really show the potential of these filmmakers. I would definitely like to see more, it almost ends too short, right when I was really getting into it and things were getting interesting. But I will still say - this is one short not to miss.
Holy crap, zombies everywhere! Another fun short film to wrap up the week, this one a point-of-view (POV) film based on the upcoming zombie video game Dying Light. Directed by Scott Bass, the short follows one parkour runner as he escapes a zombie attack on rooftops (they filmed in Cambridge, England). The game is also first person, so that experience extends to this short in order to introduce gamers to a ravaged world where they'll fight off "hordes of mindless, flesh-hungry enemies". It's another solid example of how much can be done with just a camera and a good idea, since filmmaking technology is readily available. Fun times.
It's not often that Death is this entertaining to watch, but here we have a film that will throw you for a loop and make you believe in the magic of filmmaking. After posting new shorts to the Short Films section all the time, I constantly receive emails from filmmakers sharing their new short to be featured. Not many of them will make the cut, but some of them do, and I try to give each one a good look before I decide. This one stood out, and really left a good impression on me, even though it's technically a year old (or so the Vimeo upload date says). It's called Death and the Robot from animator/director Austin Taylor, and it's about Death in this case personified by a woman, as well as an adorable Wall-E-esque robot character. Take a look below.
"I think we got lost. Maybe… we've always been lost. We've become strangers to ourselves, to each other." One more short film, even though it's hardly short, to feature at the end of the year just before 2015 rolls in. This one is an ambitious experience called Anomaly from a filmmaker named Salomon Ligthelm, and it's actually a 37-minute film that was apparently inspired by "the traditional Christmas Nativity", though it's set against the space race of the 60s. After making many promo videos, this is Ligthelm's big debut, so to say, and it's a mesmerizing trip into the cosmos and uh, some other deep, emotional places. It reminds me a bit of the films of Shane Carruth, if you've seen Upstream Color or Primer. Take a look and let us know.
"Ain't no war without a real enemy, is it?" Wow. This a great short film to end the year with. Titled The Landing, this sci-fi thriller is about a father and his son who encounter something mysterious one night on the farm. As usual, the premise may not sound like much but this film just pulls you in and delivers a thrill with quite a big twist, which I won't dare spoil – you've got to watch this. The style is what makes this particularly impressive, it almost has an old Amblin/Spielberg feel to it, which is probably what they were going for and it works very well. Even the VFX are nice for a short film. Take a few minutes and fire this up.
"I don't think it was a toy… it was something else, something special." After posting the short for The Grey Matter, I was emailed by a reader named JJ who recommended I watch another short that he "loved" called The Hatchling about a boy and his dinosaur egg. Indeed it's a fantastic short that has a touch of Spielberg by way of Jurassic Park. Instead of going dark or violent and down the horror path with this one, the short plays on the magic of childhood and our imaginations, and the possibility of anything. It's a charming short that ends in a way that should make you smile, while lighting up your own imagination. View in full below.
"What were you expecting, a grasshopper with a top hat?" Take a moment to watch this short film if you're in the mood for a darkly humorous laugh. The Grey Matter is a dark horror comedy directed by Peter and Luke McCoubrey, known as the "McCoubrey Brothers", who explained via e-mail this week that they started making music videos for a friend's band and eventually challenged themselves to make a narrative short. After premiering at film festivals throughout the year, including Brooklyn, Show Me Shorts and the Nitehawk Shorts Festival, it's now online earning a recent Short of the Week feature. There are some solid practical FX in it, and the dialogue is fun which helps keep the film interesting. It's a great short, have fun.
We didn't get a feature-length film from Kathryn Bigelow this year, but the director of Zero Dark Thirty and Point Break still delivering a powerful little piece of filmmaking in the form of a documentary/PSA called Last Days, which focuses on the plight of elephants, and how the giant, majestic creatures are in danger of being wiped off the planet. Surely you've heard about endangered species and all that jazz before, and maybe it's gone in one ear and out the other, but maybe you should let the fact sink in that within 11 years, all of the elephants living in the wild could be extinct very soon. Watch this provocative PSA now!
"Maybe it's a little early… Maybe the time is not quite yet… But those other worlds – promising untold opportunities – beckon." Whoa. Thanks to all the new sci-fi out there, from Interstellar to Star Wars, there's a renewed feeling of excitement about space exploration. Celebrating our potential for exploration in the future, this short film called Wanderers from Erik Wernquist is a spectacular, breathtaking look at where we might be in regards to visiting other places in our own solar system. All the imagery used in this is real - that's what makes it amazing. These are real locations in our solar system, and this is what we hope it's like in the future, because I already want to visit everywhere we see in this. Those cliffs divers! So cool!
We're excited to premiere a brand new sci-fi short film originating from Sweden called Double Trouble, a time travel comedy from directing duo (and friends of the site) Andreas Climent (@andreascliment) & André Hedetoft (@ahedetoft). This charming, goofy short film is about a shy young man who misses the opportunity to talk to the girl of his dreams. But when he finds a mysterious pocket watch that can turn back time, well, that's when things get interesting. It's an impressive film that doesn't rely on any dialogue, only actions and reactions, and it's cool to see just how far they go playing with the time travel concept/paradox. These two made that Logan short we ran previously, and are already working on a feature, they definitely have a bright filmmaking future ahead of them. Take a break from Star Wars and watch this amusing short.