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A Short Mission: Selfie

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There is a trend in media nowadays to hit back at this “selfie obsessed” culture and I, for one, hate it. Negating the fact that eons ago, our ancestors sat for hours to get the perfect painting of themselves or our grandparents made us sit through slideshows to showcase their holiday, it’s a little unfair to tarnish a whole generation for feeling better when they look sexy in a self-taken photo. Although, yes, I admit there can be an abundance of it (my friend has 300 photos of my phone when she absconded with it one day) and people do it in stupid locations (there have been reported deaths,) generally speaking, selfies are a harmless trend that helps people capture their beauty.

But short film Selfie will certainly make you think twice about snapping whilst you are alone. The short horror flick, that is less than two minutes long, will shake you a bit to the core. A young woman is taking photos of herself to send to her boyfriend. However, when she checks back on the photos, she sees a grim figure in the background. Unable to see them in real life, she must take a few more fateful pics to figure out the mystery.

Released by German YouTube channel, Fuck you Zombie,, this is a wonderfully jumpy film that takes a, now common, modern act in order to scare the audience. The film is wonderfully effective. Utilising a low budget to give the sense of a brooding night. Selfie is actually chilling and the mysterious actress really portrays her character with the vulnerability. Whilst it may be short, it is certainly effective. Just remember, if someone unknown appears in your selfie snaps, just fucking run – it’s not worth the Facebook likes.

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A Short Mission: The Casebook of Nips & Porkington

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Hand-drawn animation is not dead. Though it may seem that all the big companies of children’s art have leapt from the sinking ship of pencilled artistry to the bigger ease of computer animation sailing, there are still a few films out there grabbing an oar or two and sailing evocatively on. For example, the work of Tom Moore with the recent yet utterly sublime animation Song of The Sea has proved wondrous against a whole sea of pixels…It seems there is a new resurgence of for hand-drawn artistry and even in our short films, the need for quirky or wholesome cartoons is captivating audiences. Which is why the charming The Casebook of Nips & Porkington is so lovely to watch.

This imaginative short is based in Victorian London and sees two cartoon characters, a police officer kitten and a detective big try to solve the case of a missing goose egg and comes across a literal rat in the system. Can they catch the culprit and save the egg?

Warming and fun, this adorable short film is wildly vivid as it is set against a backdrop of Victorian newspapers that feel reminiscent of the era. As the crime takes them across the print media, the design of the movie has a kinetic energy that rambunctiously send the audience on a wild adorable ride. Like a Disney short at the beginning of their feature, The Casebook of Nips & Porkington captivates with an adoring palette akin to the era. Visually, it’s impacting in the way that cartoons can be – an impressive story with a charismatic tale at the core of it, this is an adventurous three minute short animation is truly inspiring.

Ok, so the animation was created through computer techniques but the spirit of hand-drawn animation is there and it is clear a lot of effort has been put in by doing something original and unique. Director Meloday Wang has a style and it is implemented here so amazingly well that it’s heart effervesces like classic family films would yet with this modern edge.. Added to a delectable bouncing score by Xintong Wang, the film is incredible and wonderful. A simply must see.

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A Short Mission: Coda

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Death is always going to coerce something poetic from humanity. It’s the most mysterious yet inevitable aspect of life. No one knows how death is going to echo on after our life ends. No one knows the dance will take when we transcend this mortal coil. No one knows. It sticks to our mind and spirits, looming over us no matter what course of happiness or ignorance we take. It’s tragic and unpredictable – taking anyone and everyone to a plain we don’t know anything about. Or even if it exists – it could just be a blank space of nothingness, rolling for eternity.

So artists, filmmakers and anyone who tries to wrap their minds around Death as a concept end up regaling the phenomenon in these poetic, ethereal and stirring works. Whilst some may take the comedic elements to counteract the depressing “everyone must die” atmosphere (See: Death playing Twister with Bill & Ted), a lot of people treat it like a masterpiece – an ever-going verse on the futility of life.

That verse is sung highly in short film Coda.

Short listed for an Oscar nomination but inexplicably, never getting one, this other-world beauty is a breath-taking allegory of life after a fateful accident. A drunk man on his way home from a night out is run over reaching for change. Unsure of where he is, disorientated by the accident, he wearily walks around whilst the hooded cloak of Death tries to find him. When they meet, Death takes him on a journey through his past to try and assimilate him with his new fate.

This week sees a resurgence of hand-drawn animation with Coda and this week’s Song of the Sea release (Both, by the way, come from Ireland so could the Emerald Isles be the new powerhouse of animation?). Allan Holly, the director, has created such an enchanting and redolent short that it melts into your imagination seamlessly. The animation is exquisite as these characters float on screen through landscapes of dreams and vibrancy. Coda is a gorgeous use of colours and imagery that haunt the screen with this unnerving and spirituous journey as our man filters through the time and space of his mind. Outstanding use of texture and shapes, Holly is keen to showcase the fantastical elements of his transition and it is sublime to watch.

The overall tone is this aching element of remembrance and re-birth. As our protagonist drifts through his memories trying to come to terms with his death, there is this painful undercurrent off loss of life and how fleeting it is as he tries to grasp some happiness and meaning to something that has drifted away from him.

It’s a glorious exploration of the fleeting moments you’ll never get back and that abandon in your most tragic moments. Coda has this sense of truth – despite everyone being unaware of what happens when you are snuffed from. This is almost gospel and flows with this haunting sense of finality whilst trying to grasp the moments that left you in love, in loss and in life….

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A Short Mission: Crocodile

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We teach a lot of different things to children. Respect your elders. Eat your greens. Look both sides before crossing the road. This is information passed down throughout the ages. Our grandparents taught our parents and our parents taught us. One day you’ll turn around to your own spawn and say “hey offspring, don’t pull a face or whatever.” Anyway, one of the biggest things that echoed through generations is that you should never, ever, ever (ever) talk to a stranger. And you should always alert a parent when it happens.

But what happens when a talking puppet crocodile talks to you? Is that allowed? Well, in this upcoming three minute short, Crocodile, a scary scaly puppetry beast tempts a young Harry. After arguing with his mum, for an unknown reason, the young lad absconds from the car with his yellow balloon and on the way, he comes across a foul- crocodile who tempts him into the life of loneliness and tempts him to carry on running away.

The puppet was created by Jim Parkyn, the lead Aardman model maker, so there is this jaunty element to Crocodile, both the film and the character, that it is easy to see why the young boy would be so allured by the dumpster eating swearing creature. And Crocodile himself adds a lot of humour, though not a lot of it lands in the right places, to make the child smile and trust him. In this colourful green creature, a lot of the films quirks and comedy come through. Part of it is distasteful whilst the delightful farting and “do it your own way kid” attitude tickles Harry enough to put his trust in the puppet.

Which is where the chilling message lies, and that makes for a richly dark film. As Harry’s mum goes searching for him, and he is found to be gone – with just the Crocodile puppet laying on the ground, it is clear what has happened and it is sickening, awful and leaves the ending cold. For anyone who is a parent, it is a tentative watch. Showing just how black comedy could be, Crocodile and director Matt Harris-Feeth greatly balance the hilarity, the oddity and then the disparity.

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A Short Mission: The Pavement

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A sign of skilled writing and innovation in film-making is competently mastering the narrative. In shorts and features, there are only a few that can edit and toy with the story’s time, pacing it well to still engross the audience in such an alluring and exciting way. On the top of my head, films such as Memento and Pulp Fiction, by Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino respectively, do this because the plot and film practically beg for sublimely done narrative work, with the former feeling much more akin to this following short as the crux of the idea revolving around a flare for paced time and non-linear plot. Taylor Engel, a self-taught filmmaker, has quickly leveled himself up the ranks of and nestled on a high perch with his fantastic short The Pavement.

Selected as part of a HBO competition, The Pavement revolves around a man who is shot and sent out of the window to his death. Narrating the moments that led up this tragedy, Engel unravels different elements of the story unfold in an amazing way as we find out exactly who killed our “hero.”

Pulsating with this noir narrator, The Pavement is a smooth beating story that is told like slam poetry. Engel uses repetition and skill to sublimely capture the essence of black and white crime dramas all the while balancing the facts and moments in this delectable story that pushes the boundaries of linear plot. Pulling away from the finale to reveal moments, told in the drawl of a man regaling his brutal death, is a masterful technique that is never squandered on a whim. Instead, Engel uses it to full effect – enhance the drama and captivating the audience superbly.

The editing is slick with the film drenched in grey tones that hammer the visceral context home. The filmmakers focus on key elements of the film to entrance you to the script; a lingering smoking gun, the scream of a woman and the cold titular pavement. What this is is an excellent example in how to use the full stop properly and allowing it to pause delicately on key moment.

Engel has remarkably pulled out a stunning film and slammed it in under five minutes. It has this thudding energy and unravels beguiling  in order to entice. It is a thrilling film that captivates the importance of short film ingenuity.

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A Short Mission: Love Me Tinder

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Some could say that dating in this day and age is a lot easier than before. Well, I wouldn’t say dating, which is as awkward as it’ll ever be, but I would say that finding a quick hook-up is certainly less of a pressing issue. Thanks to the uprising of technology, genitalia that wish to mesh with other genitalia is merely a button fwip away. Don’t get me wrong, this is a judgement free zone. After all, if you are both consenting adults and with more emotional depth than a stained metallic spoon – random fucking is fine and healthy. But sometimes, people get into these situations under false pretence. They think they are fine with one could healthy shag – but really, they are reaching out for a more visceral connection. And that’s the kind of aurora this new, excellently named short, is trying to capture.

Love Me Tinder stars the phenomenal Caroline Quentin and producer Tom Lorcan. A young has recently split up with his girlfriend and wants to explore his options with the titular dating app. He is paired with an older woman. But together, it’s clear that their desperation for some sort of human connection is going to make this date travel down the path of awkward.

Written by Alistair Donegan, directed by Sami Abusamra with Neil Gordon on camera, Love Me Tinder is a fantastic short that is brimming with incredible humanistic comedy that I feel only the British could truly muster. There are very little word said but each second is throbbing with this agonising embarrassment through either our leads not realising what they were getting themselves in for or the minute they locked eyes with one another, they realised it’s not quite what I wanted. Through Donegan’s script and Abusamra’s astute directing, the whole tone of the escapade is both sad sorrow filled and amusing.

What works is that, whilst Quentin’s Enya loving desolation hums off the screen in stomach turning awkwardness, she is never made to feel like a raw deal. Instead, it’s both of the leads insecurity of life and love that makes their misguided romanticism rub and therefore, allow the movie to spark. It helps that Lorcan and Quentin have heaps of chemistry together despite their characters not. They feed off the atmosphere and make it electrify with unease and humiliation.

Love Me Tinder has sweetness and sourness, all told alluring through the script and performances. It is a wonderful comedy that, if you have had a date like this, will rile up past memories of wretched emotional discomfort.

Love Me Tinder is making its way around the festivals and Short Sighted Cinema tours…

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A Short Mission: Leonard in Slow Motion

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Short films tend to work best when they centre on a quirk. Whether it be life size painted stop animation, a murderous revengeful table or an unusual affliction, the more surreal ploy that you can place on your protagonists shoulders, the more enthralling the stories are going to be. I can say this repeatedly, but that’s why short films are great. They aren’t just testers for your drama or feature, they can tell this weird plots that wouldn’t work on a greater scale because quirks get boring when flogged to death. Which is why Leonard in Slow Motion works best in this engaging format.

Starring Martin Starr – more famed for his role in Knocked Up and Freaks & Geeks – Leonard is a man who unfortunately moves at a snail’s pace. Always one step behind, those around move at a quicker pace and unfortunately, gets to places in life a lot faster. When he finds out the woman he is in love with is relocating to Florida, he goes to drastic lengths to confess his love to her.

Directed by Peter Livolsi – who only has small credits under his belt – Leonard in Slow Motion is a delightful little piece that is light-hearted and visceral. The plight of Leonard is almost felt through the screen and immediately Livolsi ensnares you. Acted impressively by Starr, who has to rely on small facial expressions that slow change to his emotions. To convey what is being said, the pain and anguish of his plight, is truly a magnificent talent from Starr. His lead role is enthralling and beautiful matched to the story.

What works is the special effects elements too. The difficulty of translating someone running unhealthily slothful, surrounded by normally paced people is a tricky visual device to portray. Livolsi sublimely makes it look naturalistic, a sluggish character battling against the faster elements around him in this soft hues of brown, yellow and blue. The effects in place and the brilliance of implementing them into everyday surroundings.

There is also an emotional resonance, especially revolving around the themes that, to be happy, you have to utilise you’re uniqueness and match it to surroundings that fit. Charming, Leonard in Slow Motion is a lazy treat to enjoy.

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A Short Promotion: The Rogue Table

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Abandoned. Forgotten. Used. Sent to Gumtree. Ebay. Or even the skip.

You use them every day but what if they fought back? What happens when they fight back? What happens when our table goes………….ROGUE?

Brand new short The Rogue Table looks set to be a combination of The Mighty Boosh and Big Train whilst also paying homage to the silent film stars of Buster Keaton and follows John, a lazy “young professional” who couldn’t care less about life really. He works to eat, he works to drink and he works to party. Disregarding the feelings of his furniture has never been a massive deal for him but it has for his table. And now the table has got feels…of revenge!

Directed by Sarah Cook, a passionate film fan and a dedicated to  the industry under the name Cookie N Screen. The project aims to be a ten minute short that is takes a surreal murderous turn. Starring Vedi Roy as John in his first cinematic role, The Rogue Table has a dedicated team behind it who aspire for to continue to films. Our hope is that, if successful, this film will kick off the entire Literally Speaking series. The idea is to take phrases and put them into narrative context. We already have a plan for many short films such as “thinking outside the box,” “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” and much more. If you support us from our humble beginnings with The Rogue Table, you’ll be the first supporters of this series and have first news or access to the upcoming films from this endeavor.

IWG Media and Cinelanguage Films have launched an IndieGoGo campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-rogue-table-short-film) in hopes to raise money to bring The Rogue Table to life. The rewards range from T-Shirts, posters with several horror inspired designs to choose from, a private screening and the actual table itself! With just £1, you can help a great project come to life that will be taken to festivals and shown globally too. None of this will be possible without the support and it is with the power of film fans that we could make something spectacular!!

You can donate here to help bring the short film to life! 

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A Short Mission: White Rabbit

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It’s good to know that the cinematic society is beginning to lean more towards anti-heroes every year. Those characters are far more interesting than the angelic saviour we have rested a lot of our mainstream morals on. An anti-hero is the pinnacle of good writing, acting and direction when it is done well such as Nathan Wallace in Repo! The Genetic Opera and Rosamund Pike in the recent Gone Girl. You don’t want to love them entirely but you can’t bring yourself to hate them either. That battle is completely enthralling and luckily for Stephen Karl, who directs alongside Connor O’Hara, writes and stars in the darkly comic White Rabbit.

It’s not often you see a famed magician take off his top hat to appear in films but Karl has already shown promise with poignant drama Sun in the Night. Now he teams up with Lowkey Films yet again to produce a funny and action packed short. Tobias Baines is a contracted killer. But he relishes the murders and sees himself as a showman, producing bloody killings like a magic show albeit, one where he’d actually saw the woman in half if the price was high enough. However, Baines unearths a fiendish plot that puts his entire life in jeopardy.

The main draw in this tantalising short film is Stephen Karl. It helps that he is superb here, because he has to be, co-directing, writing and playing the lead man. That’s enormous pressure to place on yourself but luckily, he reaches that very high bar he’s set. As Tobias, Karl’s mixture between refined cockney hit-man and part delusional showman gifts the entire film with this unforgettable charisma. He’s suave, droll and a little bit damaged. These different levels of character enhance the film with this cocky rambunctious spirit that contrasts with the bitter end and the somewhat troublesome illusionist mind-set Tobias has. Add a few magic tricks of the trade, thanks to Karl’s skills as a magician, and the end result is compelling.

The film has enough speeding bullets and bloody pulpy bits to keep fans of London warfare films afloat whilst still providing the eloquent fun of it all. Helped along by Connor O’Hara and the team at Lowkey, Karl manages to adeptly bring to life a character too. There is also a rather stirring, powerfully shot end sequence that was reminiscent of the Filth finale and Karl and the team manage to capture a somewhat McAvoy twinkle (I say somewhat because the actor, in my belief, inimitable). In the end, it’s the brutal blend of fights, fun and feelings that, on a low budget, is actually superb.

If you’ve just come out of Kingsmen: The Secret Service and are looking for another fix of fast paced hilarity that comes speeding out of a gun and into the brains of many many people then White Rabbit is for you.

White Rabbit will be released online at 7pm. You can catch it on Lowkey Films!

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A Short Mission: Vincent

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What do you say about a phenomenal director who has lost the plot a little bit? Yes, I’m talking about Tim Burton – that electric haired genius whose flare for the gothic and macabre excelled in the late eighties and nineties. The man was an icon, especially to a generation of odd ball kids who couldn’t fit in. Spawning Henry Selick’s A Nightmare Before Christmas, gifting us with the Michael Keaton’s Batman and making us blub along with Edward Scissorhands. Now it’s all become a little boring. Even Burton boffins who guiltily enjoyed Sweeny Todd had to admit that, by the time we got to Dark Shadows, we had to call it quits.

But going back over his legacy, one that spans generations and still teaches them to be unafraid of their darker quirks, Burton is an icon. Though met with mixed acclaim with his recent Big Eyes (which is a shame because he really tried to do something different,) you can’t help but be impressed that it all kicked off thanks to a dead dog and a little boy named Vincent.

This stop-motion, black and white drenched animation is everything that Tim Burton means – a defining short as compelling as Edward and as ghoulish as Frankenweenie. With his defining pointed jaws, big eyes and swirling spirals, Vincent is a delightfully grim small film. Revolving around the titular character, whose last name is Malloy, this is the story of a nine year old boy who wishes to be horror master Vincent Price.

The short is told in this excellent narration, all in rhyme and a deep rolling elegance by Vincent Price himself, Vincent is a great example of how Burton can enthuse his gruesome imagination and translate it well to an audience. Very much a celebration of Vincent Price’s career, and immortalises the idol relationship, it is shaped by Burton’s love for horror and twisted little children. In a great way, the short is brimming with this chilling yet exuberant nature and striking imagery as though Edgar Allen Poe had emerged, rapping on the door like the raven.

Definitively Burton, the memorable moments within the film are visionary and harken of future projects years from the 1982 project. Obviously a testament to Burton’s love for crooked stop-motion animation, Vincent is a wickedly clever project. And though now, the director is running his uniquely flared movies into tedium, he did have a couple of moments and decades where all he could produce were original excellence. Vincent is one of them.

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A Short Mission: Caldera

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Conveying mental illness on screen is a tentative process. Even bigger pictures that have scored Academy Awards do some injustice to those suffering, allowing stereotypes and tropes to perforate our daily life. Some films can do it well; Short Term 12 and Filth immediately spring to mind of accurately depicting people coping (or, in the case of the latter, falling apart) with a mental illness. Speaking candidly, as someone who is going through the motions of getting treatment for my old “broken brain” – figuring out what emotions are truthful, what thoughts are accurate and how to move forward with a diagnosis, a bottle of meds and therapy. More importantly, the fear of losing myself in the bleakness of pills or keeping the world a little bit vibrant but with troubling aspects.

Which brings us to Caldera – a stirring short film by Evan Viera – and the decision that weighs heavily on many. Focusing on our heroine, Caldera follows her journey as she abandons her medication and with it the bleak metropolis around her. She does so in pursuit of her fantasies that come with it beauty and pain. Can she find the perfect balance between the harsh truth and the dangerously captivating dream?

What is stunning about Viera’s Caldera is the core character. Her facial expression just hum of different levels of depression, mental illness and schizophrenia. It’s the sad dwelling in the bleak metropolis and the unnerving relaxation of the increasingly vibrant and alluring worlds that her mind concocts that strikes an echoing tone with our character. This feeling of disturbing euphoria, as someone unwinds because the fantastical world seems safer or more colourful than the norm is portrayed acutely in this brilliant short narrative that makes the character feel flesh and bone instead of computer code.

Viera’s work here is phenomenal. Within 11 minute he travels visual to these vivid and imaginative areas of her psyche. From cities with plant growth, blooming into flowers and animals to nebula journeys within the milky ways of her mind, this is a visionary film that is sublime in its artistry. It adds depth to the story as you understand why our protagonist is tempted to stay there contrasted against her grey world. It’s a rich tapestry of animation that transcends into this dreamscape effectively well.

Helped by Chris Perry and Chris Bishop, this is Viera’s testament to a, hopefully, lengthy and incredible career as he writers, directs and scores this exquisite and award winning film.

 

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A Short Mission: Duet

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When you look back at your childhood, there are many masters who held your imagination and gloriously displayed it on the big screen. For Disney, there was one man who made our favourite characters come to life in this beautiful and artistic way. He took us under the sea with The Little Mermaid, went just around the river bend with Pocahontas and saw the lights with Rapunzel in Tangled. Creating these unique animations, Keane has filled our cinematic lives with colour and personality in this sublime films.

Exquisitely, he also made this wonderful short named Duet. This 2014 film that sees Glen Keane direct his first film, despite supervising animation in Disney for many years. Duet was originally released as an interactive film, where Motorola phones could freeze certain aspects and explore the scenery in the moments, and the result meant that the animation was downloaded by over a million uses. The simple story tells the birth and death of man but it’s the visual effects that really enhances the film. The technical effects, that are better explained here, give spiritual life to the animation.

Though the lack of interaction is the following Youtube clip may take away from the flow, the endearment is there. This spectacular hand-drawn animation is simply heavenly to watch. The contrast between the chalky characters against the night sky blue makes them effervesce. It’s a dance of the soul through the power of art, combining the elements of the spectrum with life and making it divinely dance across the screen. Keane’s efforts here are phenomenal and whilst the story does lack, it is the way that it is told that is spectacular. Beauty in its purest form, Duet is a short film worth singing about.

 

 

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