"Can we keep her?!" Netflix has unveiled a teaser trailer for the new stop-motion creation from Aardman Animations called Robin Robin. It will premiere as a "work-in-progress" at the Annecy Film Festival this month, and is scheduled to arrive on Netflix this November. Described as a stop-motion animated "future Christmas classic." Created by its Directors Dan Ojari and Mikey Please, Robin Robin is the endearing story of a robin (voiced by Bronte Carmichael) who is adopted by a family of burglar mice when her egg rolls into a rubbish dump. She sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse, but ends up discovering who she really is. Both Gillian Anderson & Richard E. Grant are among the voice cast in this charming stop-motion animation about a robin who goes on a journey of self-discovery after being raised by a family of mice. The character design in this is just so cute! I love it already.
"Quit lurking my friends!" Is technology making us dumber? (Rhetorical question.) This thought is explored in this amusing short created by filmmaker Peter Huang based in Toronto. 5 Films About Technology is a brisk five minute short featuring five vignettes about "the dumber side of technology." As described, a satire about people staring into screens. This initially premiered in 2016 and stopped by the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where I first saw it years ago, before earning quite a bit of acclaim. Huang has since taken on a number of directing jobs and recently made an extended series of these "films about technology" for FXX's Cake called Nine Films About Technology. Which is why our friends at Short of the Week have picked up on this short again and brought it to our attention. We never shared it back in 2017, so what better time than now to feature this wickedly funny and brutally honest take on just how tech has made everyone dumb.
"Excellence runs in the family." Another marketing spot short film for a fashion company, this one runs less than two minutes (everyone's got short attention spans nowadays). Sisters is a promo short film made for the Alexander Wang "Pre-Fall 2021" womenswear collection. It was written and directed by Pavel Brenner and features a cast of Asian women walking around, driving motorcycles, and uh, fighting in fancy rooms. "Sisters tells the story of three Asian women who subvert stereotypes [a Princess, Warrior, and Mentor], and exemplify power and excellence in each of their respective storylines." Starring Ashley Wang as Princess, Piya Chitsmaran as Mentor, Yoa Mizuno as Warrior. With music by GRRL, clothes by Alexander Wang (who has been caught in a sexual assault controversy recently). A badass video featuring some badass ladies.
What kind of story can you tell with a handful of sand and a handful of currency? That's the concept behind this mesmerizing short film Foreign Exchange, created by animation filmmaker Corrie Francis Parks. After picking up a number of awards at film festivals the last few years, the short is now available to watch online - only 5 mins long. Foreign Exchange explores the tenuous connections and reinventions that keep the global economic tides flowing. It's made with a unique micro-sand animation stopmotion technique in which the individual grains of sand take on a life of their own. It's entrancing. I quite like this intro because it reminds you to focus on the details and how much is visible looking this closely: "Using a collection of banknotes and sand gathered from over 50 countries, Foreign Exchange looks like nothing you have seen before, taking you into a tiny world of dazzling details. What you observe there, and the meaning you derive from that observation depends on where you start your journey. Look closely, it's all in the details." Enjoy.
"Somebody there?" Alter has debuted a freaky new horror short film titled The Silent Lay Steady to give you a good scare this summer. This is the latest creation of Canadian filmmaker Travis Laidlaw - we also featured his other horror short Dead House a few years ago. Set in the 1860s, The Silent Lay Steady is about a woman who finds herself alone with the body after a funeral in her farmhouse. As mysterious occurrences start to occur she is forced to confront a horrifying truth. This stars Katrina Elmsley as Josephine, with Spencer Hanson and Justin Hay. With a score composed by Stephanie Kowal. The production design and cinematography in this is outstanding, adding to the creepy atmosphere of the entire thing. Someone needs to seriously give Travis Laidlaw a feature opportunity, because he clearly has the filmmaking prowess.
"Maybe you should just make something! Because you wanted to, and not for any other reason." Need a bit of a creative boost? Or just want to think deeper about creativity? This short film Quartz is an entrancing, thought-provoking short asking questions and building a narrative on the grand challenge of being creative and creating art. There's no real introduction provided, just that this is an "existential exploration into the creative process." But once it gets going you'll be sucked into the visuals and the questions being asked. I'm fascinated by the way it so quickly makes you think about your own existential worries in your life. This is directed by Drew Danburry, with writing by Drew Barlow, and it's worth a brief 4 minutes of your time.
"It will last all day if you eat it really slowly!" Wow. What an extraordinary creation. THIS is the epitome of "world building" in every sense. Dynamo Dream is a 20-minute web series pilot episode and while we usually don't post about series, I'm posting about this one anyway because it's absolutely marvelous. Set in the distant future where water has dried up and everyone is living in tiny shacks (much like Ready Player One), the story follows a young woman out and about on her day, trying to stay out of trouble. There's no synopsis - but it's not needed. Just dive right into it - you won't want to leave here. Written and directed by filmmaker / VFX artist Ian Hubert, and starring Kaitlin Romig as Jo. All the 3D and design work was done using Blender. It took Ian over three years to finally finish this, with the support of followers on his Patreon. Featuring sound design by Impossible Acoustic. And I've added a rad fan-made poster (by Barry Blankenship) below. I highly recommend watching! One of the best sci-fi worlds I've encountered in a while.
Time to go for a dance!! Disney has released a brief 30-sec trailer for their animated short film Us Again, which is now available to watch on Disney+. This 7-minute short originally premiered in front of theatrical showings of Raya and the Last Dragon, and was the first original theatrical short film produced by Disney since Inner Workings in 2016. It's both written and directed by Disney animator Zach Parrish, who also directed the Short Circuit film Puddles previously. Us Again is a magical short film set in New York City that plays like a wonderful companion piece to Pixar's Soul more than any other Disney movie. An elderly couple regain their youth in the rain, and chase each other around New York reliving magical moments. Featuring a score by Pinar Toprak. This is a really lovely trailer for a really lovely short film that features truly stunning animation. So beautiful. And it is available for everyone to watch right now. Find the wonder. Find the joy.
There might be something creepy under the sheets, so be careful when you go to bed tonight… Check out this excellent little "micro-horror short" Shroud made by filmmakers Patrick Mason and his wife Ingrid Heidelberger. This was made by them during lockdown last year entirely on their own at home, with some friends on post, and the best part is that this is actually a really fun short film for just over 60 seconds of actual footage. It's a good one, worth a quick watch. Another fine example of how to make a kick ass short film by getting every last detail from the lighting to the mood right, then you don't even need more than 90 seconds to give viewers a thrill. Jump right into it and give this a look and keep making more horror shorts.
"I knew you'd come back." Uh, hell yes this is awesome! Even Christopher Nolan would be impressed. FIVE is an action short film made entirely independently by actor / filmmaker Stephen Ford, with the goal of capturing "both the spirit and style of Christopher Nolan's Tenet." With a budget of only $300. We've seen plenty of Star Wars and Batman fan films over and the years, but this is the first one inspired by Tenet so far (that I've come across). And it's damn good! Starring Josh Han, Brennan Mejia, Kasey Landoll, JB Tadena, Colton Eschief Mastro, Romeo Armand, and "Cerberusarms". It's barely five minutes long and the action is solid and entertaining, the way they play with the forward/backward time gimmick is also impressive (especially without any budget). Even the masks are cool. Fire up the Tenet-inspired short below.
"The curtain only goes up when everyone has a part to play." It's showtime! Drawn Closer is an adorable animated short film made by the animation house Nexus Studios. It was made as an advertising project for Cox Communications, telling the story of a middle school drama department putting on a play - with some last minute changes. This story was "reimagined" as this animated short film after the pandemic cancelled Thurman White Middle School's play, but they got all the actual students involved to make this and it's just delightful. The short is written and directed by Oscar-winning animation filmmaker Patrick Osborne - of the acclaimed shorts Feast and Pearl previously, who is now working at Nexus Studios. This is just a feel-good bite-size ad, but it's the kind of feel-good filmmaking we always need more of these days. Watch below.
"Like a voice is telling me to do it." "What happens if you don't listen to it?" So this is what happens! Scary. The Rule of Three is a frightening new slasher horror short film made by young filmmaker Elwood Quincy Walker. The film premiered at a few festivals last year + this year and is now available to watch online. A woman haunted by her OCD and intrusive thoughts must overcome herself and face her inner demons to survive the night in the event of a terrifying home invasion by three masked slashers. It's a freaky fun play on literally confronting your actual "inner demons" as masked slasher people. And it's also just a well-made, engaging, and very scary horror short. Starring Hannah Barefoot and James Warfield. And there's even a great score along with it, made by Alexander Taylor. I'm always on the lookout for clever, distinct short films that also feel cinematic and polished, and this is a good one that really stands out. Battle your demons.