"I'm so scared of breakin' up…" Some of the most creative filmmaking is in music videos, because they have the freedom to do whatever they want and express emotions in imaginative ways. Love Me Like You Hate Me is a music video for the Rainsford song "Love Me Like You Hate Me", and it stars Margaret Qualley (Rainsford's real-life sister) and Shia LaBeouf. It's a choreographed dance featuring the actors as lovers. The video is presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio with split above/below shots, and their movements play out opposite of each other - each video ends up where the other one begins. Rainsford (aka Rainey Qualley) wrote on Instagram: "Please watch it. It's filled with love and pain and tenderness and rage and real pieces of my heart." It is very NSFW - both actors perform entirely nude and while there is no sex, it is seductive and intimate. More than anything, it's worth watching as a bit of experimental filmmaking and expression.
"Which one of these houses do you live in?" Don't forget your mask! Or else. This creepy new horror short is from filmmakers Zak White and Todd Spence, the same duo that makes lots of horror shorts all year long for Midnight Video. Face Mask is their latest creation, a social commentary horror about the pandemic and dangerous anti-mask idiots, as well as a very unsettling short with a wicked twist. When one man takes the trash out and is confronted by a neighbor one night, things get a bit tense. Starring Bill Parmentier and Zachary Allen Farmer. The mask guy's look and voice and everything about him is just so creepy. Spence & White, who let Adam Huber & Dan Allen direct this one, are always so good about taking a simple concept and making it super scary with some discomforting filmmaking tricks. And also writing something that comments on the pandemic (and masks) but doesn't overdo it is not that easy. Only 6-minutes - be careful.
"I wish this could be real and not just imaginary." This love doll short film is as creepy as they come. A Doll Distorted is a horror short made by filmmaker Niall Shukla, and after playing at festivals for the last few years, it's finally available online. Just in time for Halloween so everyone can extra unnerved. Jane suffers from haphephobia (the pathological fear of touch) - tormented by years of loneliness and isolation she orders a synthetic love doll online to nightmarish consequences. This was made with only a crew of 2 people, and it was selected for over 60 festivals and won over 12 Jury Awards. Niall "made the film almost entirely by himself serving as the writer, director, editor, producer, set designer, sound designer, VFX artist, DP and composer. He had only 1 other crew member on the short, his lighting & camera assistant." Starring Nicci Brighten as Jane. This starts out creepy, but it gets totally insane by the end. Masterfully unsettling.
"You ever seen dirt shaped into works of art?" This is a killer ad. One of the best commercials of the year, which is why I'm featuring it. Technically it is a short film, but it's made to sell an item – a mountain bike – which also technically makes it an ad. But it's an awesome ad. The Perfect Lap is a promo film directed by Ian Schiller and Dustin Cook of the agency Sabertooth Pictures. It's made for the bike company Specialized to introduce a rad new mountain bike called the Stumpjumper EVO - the 2021 model. It is a special bike designed for fast trail rides and forest tracks specifically. The short's faux-narrative involves two mountain bike pros – Matty Miles & Matt Hunter – and their photographer each discussing their experience riding the "perfect lap" on a golden sunset ride one day, and how it was so perfect that one of them just disappeared forever. He's found again in the year 2063 and interviewed about this glorious day. Above all, the execution here is perfect - every single shot, the comedy, the music, the goofy performances. Everything is just perfect.
"Pennies saved don't add up to much." Everyone loves idioms! Or at least, we love using idioms and tossing them into casual conversations all the time. Kill Your Idioms is a two-minute animated short created by Grant Kolton that riffs on some of the most popular idioms. "You decide, do your idioms live or die in this animated poem?" Kolton takes idioms and turns them back into literal sentences, then animates a scene for each one. It's a sly lesson in English and a way to make you think about the phrases we all use and whether they're actually useful or not. The "killing two birds with one stone is actually harder" scene is the best one because the little chirps from the birds are so cute and yet they're being killed with a stone. Poor little birds.
"Believe it or not I was young once, too…" A girl’s walk home alone at night turns into a surreal nightmare. The Three Men You Meet at Night is a horror short film from writer / director Beck Kitsis and it's now available to watch online after a successful festival run throughout the year. The film is about a young woman walking home alone at night after a party. She encounters three different types of men. Whom can she trust? You probably already know the answer to that question, of course… but this short makes these very-real fears even more horrifying to watch putting the viewer into the shoes of this girl. Starring Stella Baker, Barron Leung, Walker Hare, Tom Martin, Matthew Jarzyna, Emily Olcott, plus Ezra & Michael Moran. It's an impressive short that has some moody, atmospheric cinematography to add even more unsettling tension. It's designed to make us all understand how women live in a state of constant fear.
"Head straight there, don't slow down, I'll handle the MTF." Time to ride into the future. Talented visual storyteller Joe Sill has dropped a new short film online. His latest project is called Autonomous, a proof-of-concept short for a bigger project created using CG animation. The film is an animated cyberpunk thriller centered around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles. Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client. Featuring the voices of: Liz Morey, Keong Sim, Joe Biacno, Lulu Picart, Kaylin Lee Clinton, Shawn Williams, Steven Sherman. This reminds me a bit of the motorcycle CG short Ruin years ago, which was filmmaker Wes Ball's big break into the industry. This one has a whole different look and feel, but is just as impressive and as sleek as Ruin. I love the vehicle designs in this, kind of like 80s Tron meets Akira. It is a must watch.
"These would not have been the clones that will ever carry your primary consciousness." It's out now! Don Hertzfeldt's latest mind-melting sci-fi short film World of Tomorrow Episode Three is now available to watch online. This final chapter is a continuation of his radical, remarkable World of Tomorrow sci-fi series about a girl named Emily. If you haven't seen any of them, we recommend starting with Episode One and Episode Two before this one. Don explains: "at one point this was going to be in theaters across the country but unfortunately the world had other plans. but i do think there's something so intimate about it that suits it very well for the small screen. may i suggest watching with good headphones?" Hertzfeldt's shorts may have stick figure characters, but they are vastly intelligent, awe-inspiring works that explore existentialism, cloning, consciousness, and much more. This one also has a healthy dose of social commentary baked into it's distant-future story following David. And if you need more convincing, read this glowing review. Enjoy.
"We aim to give the appearance of life." This is one of the scariest horror shorts ever made. Post Mortem Mary is a horror short by Australian filmmaker Joshua Long. It originally premiered at the 2018 Sitges Film Festival, where it won Best Short Film, and has played at numerous other genre festivals. It's not often we see horror set in the old west, but this one is also seriously scary. A mother and a daughter who suffers from a crippling fear of death run a post-mortem photography business in 1840's Australia. They arrive to a small farmhouse to find devastated parents grieving over the death of their ten-year-old daughter. She must confront her phobia and do all she can to make the dead look alive. Starring Stella Charrington, Melanie Zanetti, Kathryn Marquet, and Edie Vann. I've been freaked by this for two years - now it's your turn.
"The word community has the word 'unity' in it. And we're united in the love and reverence for this place." A Beach of Our Own is a short 10-minute documentary that pairs with a NY Times article examining the community known as Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York (see Google Maps). The film introduces us to a few of the original families that settled there generations ago, and helped establish a Black community nestled between two wealthy white neighborhoods. Made by filmmaker Joshua Kissi, A Beach of Our Own offers "a brief history of how New York's Sag Harbor became a refuge for African-American families, with testimonials from some of the residents who've summered there for much of their lives." All of it is actually a rather remarkable story to hear. During the Jim Crow era, a group of trailblazing Black families built a haven in the beachfront village of Sag Harbor, N.Y., establishing a close-knight community that has endured for generations. It's even more endearing to hear these stories from the very people themselves in this short.
"I came up with a genuinely original idea. And I'm the only one who's immune to it." Oh this is a good one. O.I. is a new horror short film made by South African filmmaker N'cee Van Heerden (also of Hunter's Cabin). A simple concept perfectly executed. The story is about Barry – played by Ben Cotton – after he wakes up one morning with an incredible new idea. The downside? He's the only person that can handle it. In fact, telling the idea to anyone has devastating effects. Barry may have to face this burden alone – or so he thinks. Also starring Kett Turton, Toby Hargrave, Jennnifer Nicole Stang, and Paul McGillion. The whole thing is a play on how there are no longer any original ideas, and how the moment anyone comes up with a truly unique original idea it blows minds - literally. Pretty accurate, I have to say. Enjoy this short.
"Does it think like you, or does it think it's you?" This is another fantastic example of no-budget, homemade filmmaking and how much anyone can pull off with almost nothing to work with (besides an idea / script). Droid is a new sci-fi thriller 5-minute short made by filmmaker Daniel Mattei - we previously featured his excellent horror short 404 a few years ago. Droid was made entirely in quarantine by Mattei during the pandemic summer. The tone is neo-noir, in the style of films like Blade Runner, about lifelike androids that are so realistic people have decided to clone themselves and let them do all the work. More questions: "A droid that thinks like you seems harmless enough, but a droid that thinks it is you is a bit more complicated. Can A.I. be programmed to be moral? Or is it survival of the fittest, man vs machine?" The short film stars Daniel Mattei, Grace Mattei, and Daniel Schwab. It's a fun little exercise in low-key sci-fi storytelling.