"There's a shadow hanging over us, but there's a light that always guides us home… A light that may go out…" Wow, this is a gorgeous 2-minute short documentary. Land of Steel is from UK-based filmmaker Chris Thomas (also behind Cropped a few years ago) who made this film as a passion project. The short doc follows 70-year-old Port Talbot resident John, a retired worker and life long resident of Port Talbot as "he runs familiar paths, contemplating the shadows of uncertainty as the future of Welsh steel hangs in a precarious balance." There's a moment in this where it has that Blade Runner feel with a Vangelis-like score and vibrant shots of the industrial landscape. Shows how much you can achieve in only two minutes of time.
Here's another outstanding short film, featuring two of the most talented up-and-coming actresses around. Tatiana Maslany (from "Heartland", "Orphan Black", Two Lovers and a Bear, Stronger) plays a woman that has been gone for two years, including a stint in rehab, who returns to "face the emotional fallout of her disappearance and make amends with the girlfriend", and her brother. The cast includes Tattiawna Jones and Sergio DiZio. The short film is inspired by J.D. Salinger's story Franny and Zooey, it's an homage that becomes something of its own that speaks volumes about the trials and tribulations of love in today's world. It's enlivening to see Maslany continue to push herself with even deeper, and more complex performances.
Saddle up, boys! Time to round up the bad guys. Watch this amusing 4-minute animated short film titled Cowboyland, made by filmmaker David Stumpf as his Bachelor Film at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. This animated short played at the Annecy Festival and Animation Festival Hiroshima in 2016, as well as a few other fests, and it's finally available to watch online for free. The film is described by Stumpf as an "anti-dressage" story about a drunken cowboy sheriff, who is "unable to realize the steed he's trying to ride is actually a child's wooden horse." He animated this short by hand, with pencil and paper, and it took 6 months to complete: 4 months animating, 1 month coloring and scanning, and 1 month of post-production.
"This might feel a bit cold." Watch out for what lies below. This short is so good! In honor of International Women's Day, we're featuring this fantastic horror comedy short Smear, written and directed by filmmaker Kate Herron (@iamkateherron), co-written by her writing partner Briony Redman. This short played at numerous festivals throughout 2017, and is now available online to watch for free. Smear is about a woman going for her first pap-smear test. It's a horror comedy inspired by Gremlins, Tremors and Little Shop of Horrors, which should be more than enough references to get you to watch it. Plus, it's just a great short with some honest humor and fun performances from the entire cast. More shorts like this, please! Have fun.
This is cool. Musician/filmmaker Brendon Small created this rad short film music video Galaktikon: Nightmare and it's a throwback to 80's sci-fi and horror. Technically it's only a music video for the song "Nightmare" from the album Galaktikon II: Become the Storm, but it's also a "live-action intergalactic metal short film" about a space pilot who gets captured and must escape. There's some crazy cool, very impressive sci-fi visuals in this, worth watching for them alone. "Practical effects may look fake, but they feel very real. That’s been something that drove us." Small raved to Nerdist about Tobe Hooper and Roger Corman. Even though it is a metal music video, it's worth watching just to see the throwback sci-fi visuals. Fire it up below.
There's only one week to go until the Academy Awards ceremony. One of the nominated Best Documentary Short Films is this one, Knife Skills, from veteran filmmaker/producer Thomas Lennon. Knife Skills is a 40-minute short film profiling the hectic launch of Edwins (visit their official site), a world-class French restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, where most of the staff are just out of prison. Lennon explains his intentions to The New Yorker: "Can I make you think about an issue and care about an issue? Think about the people and care about those people?" It's not just a film about chefs, or prison, or running a restaurant, it's about all of those things and more. If you want to watch the short, it's available below for free only for US viewers.
"I've got no quarrel with a man who's not trying to kill me." Now this is a must see short film. Lorne is a short directed by Australian filmmaker Jesse Leaman of Leaman Films based in Melbourne. Set in some kind of unexplained post-apocalyptic wasteland, actor Guy Pearce plays Lorne, a traveler struggling with the weight of isolation, who is confronted by a mysterious stranger who helps him realize his existential fears. This is a gritty, gripping short about how hard it is to be alone, in more ways than one, and how it can sometimes help to be quiet and listen. The POV filmmaking in this is is crazy cool, opening up a whole other dimension for storytelling and conversing with the audience without entirely breaking the barrier of the cinematic narrative (e.g. the 4th wall). It also helps that Pearce is so captivating telling this tale. See below.
"Maybe you got the dweeb?" Just in time for some Valentine's Day scares, enjoy this new horror short film from filmmakers Todd Spence and Zak White called Your Date is Here. It's nice and short (only 6 minutes!), with a fun premise, and it's effective at building up the suspense. Your Date is Here stars Becca Flinn and Dani Tiernan as a mother and daughter playing a board game one night. Things start to get weird and creepy as they keep playing, and then the pizza shows up. I'm always impressed by how easy it is to take such a simple premise, with only two characters, and create a short film that is actually effectively scary and gripping to watch. The power of great filmmaking! You don't even need a huge budget to make a good film.
"You city boys - unbelievable." Would you like some wine with your short film? Check out this Edgar Allen Poe-inspired, "Gothic suspense thriller" short titled Bricks, about a wealthy stockbroker who hires a rough builder to renovate the wine cellar underneath his country house. In the shadowy cellar they find common ground at first, but then they'll have a falling out with chilling consequences. Not to be confused with Rian Johnson's directorial debut Brick, this film is a tense thriller about wealth, wine and the art of bricklaying. Bricks stars Jason Flemyng and Blake Ritson, directed by Neville Pierce. I dig all the uneasy tension in these two performances, this is such a nice thriller that allows the actors to play with the audience. Enjoy.
Watch where you camp. Beware of Crittus! Another well-made horror short that you all should check out. Crittus is written and directed by Canadian-Brazilian filmmaker Marcus Alqueres, a proof-of-concept for a nifty horror project that could be a feature. The story follows a guy named Sean, played by Felipe Abib, out on a soul-searching camping trip who encounters something weird in the forest. What could it be? You have to watch to find out. I quite like how this seems to be play like it's a typical camping horror, but then throws a few cool twists into the mix. I definitely would like to see more from this. Alqueres is already set to work on a few other feature projects, so there's plenty to watch out for from this filmmaker. Beware.
One of the categories that gets very little attention at the Academy Awards is Best Documentary Short, usually featuring an impressive selection of international short films that are not always easy to watch. One of the films nominated as a Best Documentary Short from 2017 is one called Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, directed by Frank Stiefel. If you live in Los Angeles, you know the 405 is one of the worst highways to drive and almost always has traffic. The film examines the life of LA-based artist Mindy Alper, who has struggled her entire life with mental disorders and depression, even though she produces remarkably deep, honest work. This short runs 40 minutes, but it's worth a watch to get an inspiring look inside the mind of a tortured artist. You can find out more about Alper on the film's official site after you've watched this. Enjoy.
"A complex system of beliefs." We're taking a brief step outside of our comfort zone to share this fascinating, mesmerizing short film titled Edifice, made by designer / filmmaker / visual artist Ash Thorp (follow him @ashthorp). This experimental short features stunning imagery designed to consider existential questions about "who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading." It's only seven minutes and features no dialogue, only visuals. The concept is to present visually a "journey from stardust to singularity." Most of the short films we share contain some sort of narrative or plot device, but this one is all about the concept, evoking profound existential & philosophical thoughts through an entrancing visual experience. See below.