"I can only see forward when the cart is full." Think about all the random waste and leftover filler product drifting around out there. What happens to all of it? Styrofoam is a short film by a photographer named Noah Sheldon, based in Shanghai, who made this as part of a video series on work in modern China. The doc is about a woman named Wo Guo Jie, who is a styrofoam collector. She roams the streets scavenging and hunting for leftover styrofoam - boxes and other various shapes. She collects this and piles it very high on her motorcycle, reselling them to a seafood wholesale market. "Working under the cover of night to limit police attention, she's still a highly conspicuous sight on the city streets, biking with as many boxes stacked around her as possible so that she has to make only one trip a day." It's a beautifully-shot film, allowing us to follow her daily routine closely as she travels around the city hoping to stock up. Definitely worth a watch.
"The truth of the matter is: [the Coen Brothers are] the most pleasant, collaborative, incredibly creative guys I've ever worked with. There's nothing I would say no to…" Hollywood studios usually release pre-packaged, publicity-designed behind-the-scenes featurettes for every movie. The sound bites, the clips, the interviews, the footage is all carefully designed to help with promotion. But this behind-the-scenes video is a raw, real, unfiltered look at what it's like to be on set making a feature film. Josh Brolin made this short documentary while filming No Country for Old Men, written and directed by the Coen Brothers, back in 2007. This "unauthorized" doc is already on the Blu-ray release of the film, but just found its way online (via The Film Stage) and it's worth a watch. Because there's nothing else like it and it's a fun blast from the past.
"Memories fade as time goes by." Let's kick off the year with an outstanding short film from Malaysia. The Last 7 is a short film made by the filmmaking collective Grim Film, and written and directed by filmmaker Jared Lee. It's set in a different universe (that still looks like ours) where Grim Reapers are average office workers holding down jobs at various soul-collecting organisations to earn their keep in the afterlife. We follow the story of a Reaper named Michael, haunted by dreams he cannot understand, trying to make sense of his new life. Nick Davis stars, with a cast including Ben Chan, Papi Zak, Jan Chin, Marianne Tan, and Chin Wen Xuan. This isn't a horror but rather an intimate drama, with some impressive writing that makes this stand out much more than most short films. There is also a fun mid-credits scene to watch, too.
"Be cool, demon! Demon, be cool!" This is why you don't mess with black magic! One more creative, well-made, funny short film to end this year. We Summoned a Demon, from writer/director Chris McInroy, has played at over 120 film festivals since 2017 (including at Fantasia, FrightFest, HollyShorts) and is now available online. The short is about a couple of dudes who accidentally summon a demon, and don't want to admit their mistake. Starring Kirk Johnson, Carlos Larotta, and John Orr. This short is also the third and final in a sort-of linked trilogy of gory horror comedy shorts from McInroy, and it might just be the best.
"Looks like someone's staying on the naughty list… Larry, light him up!!" What the craziness is this?! 20th Century Fox has released an extra-violent, stop-motion animated short film titled The Predator Holiday Special. And it's actually all kinds of awesome. The funny short is just a new mash-up of Predator and the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" animated TV movie, telling a story about a Predator invading the North Pole - but Santa has an elite defense force of his own that jumps into action and fights back. This is all to promote the DVD/Blu-ray release of Shane Black's new The Predator, which opened this year (did you forget already?). I'm quite impressed - the production quality on this short is pretty damn good, and it's as violent & brutal as it should be (for a Predator riff). Worth a quick watch if you need a laugh these holidays.
We're almost finished with 2018, but there's a few more good short films to feature. Hors De L'Eau, which translates to Out of Water in French, is one of the final graduation projects for 2018 made by filmmakers at the animation school Gobelins in Paris, France. This animated short is a parable about exclusion, telling a story about a macaque mother who encounters hostility from a group of snow monkeys due to strict rules which govern their community. The POV perspective is really striking, and allows us to empathize so much more with her sad, harrowing story. This film does have a strong message that it's trying to convey, but it's also an impressive work of art - all the monkeys and the animation are exquisite. This is really worth your time to watch - it's only 7 minutes in total. There's no dialogue but the score is fantastic as well. View below.
What mysteries are waiting for us in the universe? What will we find that defies explanation or definition? Ostiary is a sci-fi short film made by Toronto-based animator Danish Ghaffar, of Ghaffar Studios. The short is about a space traveler stranded on a planet by himself, running low on food, who ventures out into the planet's mysterious environment in search of nutrition. He discovers something unlike anything he has seen before. Described perfectly by io9: "soundtracked by lovely ambient music and drenched in purples and blacks, it's a fascinating, beautiful little film." Reminds me a bit of Annihilation, you'll see when you watch.
Can you solve a Rubik's cube? This charming new animated short film titled Scrambled is about a cute little Rubik's cube that comes alive in hopes of being solved by a woman waiting for a train. Scrambled is made by the animation house Polder Animation based in The Netherlands, written and directed by Bastiaan Schravendeel. It's a simple story but with some intelligent nuance in both the style and substance, about a young woman who's inspired when she figures out how to solve this (lonely) Rubik's cube. It's a great lesson for everyone - about how taking a break and exercising your mind by playing a game or solving some other problem might actually give you a fresh perspective you can use to solve other problems in your life. Enjoy.
"Time to light it up, kid." Warner Bros has debuted a funny short film for the holidays in promotion of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, the sequel to the wildly successful and highly acclaimed original The Lego Movie released in 2014. This short is about Emmet Brickowski putting together a holiday party in their Apocalypse-berge city, which (not-so-subtly) is hinted at in this short, will end up attracting their next foe. This time around, the citizens must fight off Duplo invaders from outer space. The main voice cast for The Lego Movie 2 includes Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Stephanie Beatriz, Elizabeth Banks, Channing Tatum, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Jonah Hill, and Tiffany Haddish. We also recently featured the second trailer for this animated sequel, so this is just some extra icing on the cake. Plus I don't think of the footage from this short will end up in the finished movie anyway. But it's amusing and harmless - have fun.
Meet Juna. Okna Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for The Seed of Juna, a new CGI-animated short film made by filmmaker Alvaro Garcia. Garcia is a VFX veteran, working on major Hollywood films for ILM, but this is his latest independent project - a short proof-of-concept for a wicked cool idea about a rebellious girl who is reborn in a different part of the universe after being killed by a ruling religious sect on Earth. "The goal is to offer the audience an adrenaline mix of discovery, awe and discomfort about the wild universe and a human caught up in the middle of it." The full short will be out sometime in early 2019, and we don't usually post trailers for shorts, but this looks so crazy ambitious and we just had to share it. I'm not really sure what's happening on this other world, but these visuals certainly got my attention. Check it out.
"The Emperor protects!" Nothing like a visit to the dark future that lies ahead. Guardsman is a fan-made short film based on the Warhammer 40,000 game series from Games Workshop. This very, very dark short is about a trooper named Guardsman Raines who ends up deep inside of enemy territory in an abandoned Imperial guard training facility. If you're a fan of the Warhammer 40K series, you know what to expect - and a Space Marine does show up to help him out. That's when this gets good, real good. Guardsman stars Erik Steffens, with Terry Skrinjar in the armor, and Pete Beaumont as the voice of the Space Marine. This is very short and I do wish there was more to it, but it's impressive they made it without much to work with.
"Seriously, you didn't lock the door, Adam?! Nice going!" Another horror comedy short with packed with a healthy dose of absurdity. Cabin Killer is a new short film made by filmmaker Michael Rich, and it's an enjoyable 10 minute watch. The film took top honors at Shriekfest, where it won Best Super Short Film, and played at numerous other festivals. Cabin Killer is about a couple that goes on a weekend getaway to work on their relationship, but their cabin isn't exactly what they expected. Starring Chris Orlandi, Gabi Van Horn, and Jose Martinez. Rich wanted to make a film that isn't what we all expect, but still pulls viewers into "the growing absurdity of the story." It's more of a relationship comedy than horror, still quite bloody.