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!
"The keys are in the car, there's a full tank of gas, and the food is good at the diner. That's Elgin Park." If you're a fan of photography, you may have seen these photos on the internet last year, as they went "viral" everywhere on social media. Michael Paul Smith is an artist who creatures vintage scenes to photograph using miniature models and playing with the optical illusion of perspective. He created an entire 1950's utopia called Elgin Park, "a fantastical world", and this documentary dives into the life of this charming, reclusive artist to reveal the dark inspiration behind his work. It's a fascinating and entertaining 9 minute experience. We're featuring this new short film in hopes that it'll inspire and intrigue as many as possible.
"I'll take my science over your magic any day…" What if! We can dream, right? What if Batman, trying to rescue Superman, had to fight Darth Vader on the Death Star. This would make many movie geeks cream their pants if it actually existed, and guess what it, kind of does. Well, a few die-fans made a short film on YouTube that pits Batman vs Darth Vader and it's kind of awesome. This was posted last November and has already racked up 3 million views, but if you haven't seen it yet now is the time. There's a kick ass lightsaber battle, great costume and special FX work, and a solid score to top it off. I'm shocked how good this is, and how much I enjoyed watching it. This is the kind of amazing creation the internet has gifted us.
"Do you call the police, or do you mind your business?" One of the most subversive films of 2014 is A Most Violent Year, written & directed by J.C. Chandor and starring Oscar Isaac as a humble businessman trying to keep his company clean in the tough times of 1981. The title of the film refers to "one of the most dangerous years on record for New York City", and to help provide some background on that time, A24 has created a must-see short doc. Featuring Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, performance artist Penny Arcade, and Harlem street-style legend Dapper Dan, this short doc dives into New York City in 1981 and how tough it was to work and live then. It's a fascinating promo for a great film that I recommending seeing.
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.