This Week's SATURDAY SHORTS Take a Walk on the SciFi Side.
Hello ladies and gentlemen, Muldoon here with this week's crop of awesome - a SciFi extravaganza of short films submitted by you, the readers of Ain't It Cool. This week's package includes a healthy serving of far out fantastical science fiction from all over, with budgets ranging from zilch to some with... well let's just say change must have been dropped. Regardless, they all contain a familiar thread, an escape from the mundane, an escape from the mediocre into a completely make believe world, and all roughly less than 20 minutes. I don't know of any other thing that can do that cars, trains... hell, even video games typically take a few hours, right? Okay maybe a space shuttle, but I digress.
Seriously, I hope you enjoy the films screening below - I do, but that's just my opinion. Because they were all user submitted, I hope we have some of the filmmakers in the audience and if so, please jump into the conversation in the Talk Backs below. On that same note, this is a "Troll Free Zone" and yes, I do realize how anti-AICN Talkbacks that sounds, but seriously folks - movies are difficult to make enough as it is regardless of budget, a well worded genuine critique is one thing, but an ignorant shouting off of the mouth/fingers(?) or surrounding a rushed paragraph with a sense of entitlement... If you find yourself writing things like "worst short film ever" or "___ just raped my eyes," you're gonna' have a bad time. Be excellent to one another.
Blah! Enough laying down of gutter bumpers in the bowling lane of internet blog culture - Let's check out some damn cool films and just have some fun!
Go grab yourself some popcorn, lock your kids in a closet, kill the lights, relax and check out this little weekly film fest we've got ourselves here:
Up first is filmmaker Aaron Kirk's smack to the face of traditional sci-fi, a film born out of his "love for THE TWILIGHT ZONE." It shows, and then some. "Dirge is a sci-fi short about a man, Rod, and his sentient, talking computer, Ray, that have been wandering a post-apocalyptic world since Rod was a boy. Dirge was shot in September of 2011 and was created as a part of the inaugural CELTX Seeds program and received a small grant and promotion by CELTX upon completion."
On to Sam Lemberg's short, CHAMELEON, essentially six minutes packed to the brim with a legit heaviness that relies quite heavily on actors, not necessarily outlandish visuals. I really dug this one.
A hostile race of aliens has invaded Earth and the government fears that the aliens are modifying their DNA to pose as humans. When a military officer abducted months ago mysteriously reappears, his wife is called in to ask him questions only she would know to find out who or what he really is. Starring James C. Burns (Call of Duty: Black Ops). Based on a story by science fiction author Colin Harvey.
Follow the film's Twitter: @ahernand.
While I normally try to steer clear of screening webisodes (I just like being able to start and complete a story in one go for this column especially), this one's got me wanting more. It's a classic case of wanting to tell a massive story, but having to be stylistically creative in a way to make it happen - not waiting around for the money fairies to bless you with that perfect budget.
Set in the year 2064, AIDAN 5 chronicles the journey of one detective who must unravel the mystery behind the serial killings of his own clones. Originally a 48-hour film short, this pilot episode is part of a critically acclaimed web series told through a unique style of film-making and hand sketched art. It has been hailed as a "living comic book."
The ability to control time, who wants it? Everybody. Director Mike Pappa knocks it out of the park (I always hate reading that in reviews, but it's damn true in this case). Seriously I love everything about this short from the lead's performance to the prodcution design and even to the sound design. Good stuff here that touches on greed and regret - feeling the need to change.
"When a watch repair man acquires an antique pocket watch that can control time, he decides to use it to achieve his dreams. His plans soon become sinister when he learns he isn't the only one with the knowledge of the pocket watch."
BAM! So that's it, a lovely last film to go out with on a high note. The houselights are coming on, we need to clean the theater to prep the next screening, so folks - get one. "Hold on now," you say? More shorts? You're thirst for kickass shorts still holds strong? It's cool, I've got you covered - Click any of the links below to be taken to all sorts of worlds - horror - comedy - action... We've got it all in the links below:
If you have a short and think it belongs here or are on the fence about whether to send it in, please do send it in - I'd love to see what you've put together. I've already seen hundreds of fresh new filmmakers' shorts and like any good addict, I need more!
Shoot me an email at "Mike@aintitcool.com"
In the subject line include:
“SHORTS” + “Your film’s name” + “The film’s genre”
Then, in the body of the email, please include a synopsis of the film and any contact information you might think I need or would want published.
Please don’t feel the need to submit multiple times. I swear to each of you I truly check every email I get, and sending the same short a few times just makes it a bit messier.
Remember, the filmmakers might still be in the audience, so feel free to share your thoughts in Talkbacks below. (JUST DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE). I picked them, so you know I think highly of all of these, but how about you fine folks? How'd you like 'em?
- Mike McCutchen
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June 2, 2012, 10:57 a.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 10:58 a.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 11:20 a.m. CST
I've been a fan of AIDAN 5 for a while. Once the webseries gets going, it gets really really good. EPISODE 7 really kicks ass.
June 2, 2012, 11:25 a.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 12:06 p.m. CST
by Industrious Angel
yeah yeah yeah and thanks again :) "Dirge" was ok; style and focus were all over the map so I guess this was more experiment than "real" film but it had a fitting mood. I liked how Ray's voice was always doing little melodies like in a liturgy. "Chameleon" was very efficient, but the ending was much too gimmicky. The setup was very atmospheric and there was chemistry between the actors so why go for the gimmick? Take the material and expand it into a real exploration of what makes us us! "Aidan5": The story is not altogether new, and I did not get the "2064" because it looked rather contemporary. Might make a good feature lenght film but it's hard to judge from these sketches. "Frankie": Now here's a real treat. My first thoughts about 2 minutes into it were: Why didn't they do this in stop motion? The sets and props look like stop motion, the theme exhales stop motion and the actor looks and moves like a puppet too. Why would anyone shoot a Wallace-and-Gromit episode in live action? On Mike Pappa's site i discovered he did some animation and stop motion work too and was not surprised. Still, the question remains why he went that way for Frankie - just artistic or creative finger exercises? The result is unique but also a bit uneven. The timeline was a bit confusing (as befits a timetravel-story), the setup and idea are enough for a feature lenght film. Hire Schwarzenegger as the watchmaker, he's real good in silent roles but you might need a bigger watch :)
June 2, 2012, 12:16 p.m. CST
by Ryan FitzGerald
We loved Dirge when Aaron presented it to us. Combined with his previous films, we wanted to invest in both him and his story. When an underdog as polished as him comes to our door, we put on our best bib 'n' tucker.
June 2, 2012, 12:32 p.m. CST
by Kenney Kirk
True SciFi fan.
June 2, 2012, 12:56 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
Are you talking about the lead in "Dirge"? I never would have thought of that but you're right man. I'm going to have to bug Cilton about that later.
June 2, 2012, 1:12 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
thank you very much.
June 2, 2012, 1:14 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
Now I'm just embarrassed because my money says you were talking about Aidan 5...glad I was able to make such an arse of myself right out of the box....
June 2, 2012, 1:25 p.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 1:27 p.m. CST
I'll watch the others later, but those two were great.
June 2, 2012, 3:02 p.m. CST
Frankie (though bit too long) was the best. AIDAN 5 well done.
June 2, 2012, 3:21 p.m. CST
DIRGE A BOY AND HIS DOG meets CAST AWAY. Despite limited resources, director plays his A-Game with cinematography, sound, montage and — the interactive hodge-podge *Wilson* — RAY. Good example of how brief clips can suggest more than full-on scenes of post-apocalyptic mayhem. Acting and writing held interest throughout. Liked the very subtle blinking red light in one B&W flashback, suggesting everything here could be the computer's memory. CHAMELEON Again, shows what can be done with limited resources, some expository dialog and a room. Camera and scene blocking were strong, and one of the few short films I've seen adapted a source short story. Definitely should have ended with the captured *wife*, leaving the rest to the imagination, since *alien* VFX suggest this was trying to be bigger than its britches. Nevertheless, this was smartly brief and to the point. AIDAN 5 BLADE RUNNER meets SIN CITY. Use of charcoal illustrations ups the *Noir* quotient, and lead actor played against his twinning well. I watched a few later episodes to see where this was going, and the overall project is more elaborate than this pilot implies. The dancing chroma key artifacts are a big distraction to all performances here - which seems to have been cleared up in later episodes. As a standalone piece, the pilot handles its framing, exposition and closing twist adroitly. FRANKIE Cinematography, lighting, art direction and props seemed to perfectly capture what was going on in the director's mind and, as a silent, this played wonderfully. Pacing here and there felt a bit drawn-out, but I think that was the point; recalling what Rod Taylor said in THE TIME MACHINE, *When it comes to time, we are prisoners*. This was superb. Overall this week = That was free??...what a deal!
June 2, 2012, 3:38 p.m. CST
by Por Kins
June 2, 2012, 3:41 p.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 3:50 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
I may be telling people about that comment for the rest of my life when I talk about Dirge. Pretty funny, man.
June 2, 2012, 3:59 p.m. CST
it requires a version where instead of Ray humming the tune he does, he sings... *do you be-e-elieve in life after love*
June 2, 2012, 4:03 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
maybe he could have recorded an album. What was I thinking?
June 2, 2012, 5:25 p.m. CST
by Aaron Kirk
You know, A Boy and His Dog comes up a lot. I haven't seen it yet. I really should. Thanks for the mini review, do you have any sort of blog or anything because all four of your write ups were great. A well thought out, examination by a student of film- heck, I'd look forward to a bad review from someone like that...sorta
June 2, 2012, 9:10 p.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 9:22 p.m. CST
The one with Don Johnson and Blood? The premise not totally dissimilar, but doesn't match the 'climax'(so to speak) of the film. A well executed exercise in it's own right. To quote a certain myopic cartoon character, *Oh Muldoon ... you've done it again*
June 2, 2012, 10:54 p.m. CST
June 2, 2012, 11:38 p.m. CST
@ftttfilms & @drmorbius, re: A BOY AND HIS DOG. Was referring to the Ellison novella — I haven't seen the movie, either.
June 3, 2012, 12:20 a.m. CST
Don't know how closely the movie follows the book, or not ... My 'climax' quip was in reference to the end of the movie. Haven't seen in years ...
June 3, 2012, 1:02 a.m. CST
As written, A BOY AND HIS DOG starts off with a dude and a witty/savvy dog chatting (by telepathy) while roaming a post apocalyptic landscape for food & shelter, which is why the filmmaker is hearing it mentioned. While the dude needs the dog to survive, and the dog almost dies at the end, DIRGE didn't need a matching finale to register.
June 3, 2012, 1:27 a.m. CST
by Industrious Angel
I have it on DVD, it's just ok but really not that good. Read the story if you want to do yourself a favour, it has got more punch.
June 3, 2012, 6:34 a.m. CST
Not my short but one that has been released and causing a stir in the short world, check it out it is 32 minutes long but worth every minute! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGgRH7-Qs9g
June 3, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST
I loved the three first entries, but the fourth for some reason Hulu didn't work on my laptop. Dirge was great for the atmosphere. I really like dystopia future films for whatever reason. Chameleon was fun, also very good acting/direction. Aidan 5... Just amazing! Thank you again.
June 3, 2012, 8:52 a.m. CST
This didn't engage me. Maybe it was the wall-to-wall Grand Guignol scoring. Or that I've read Poe's "The TELL-Tale Heart*. I've honestly never understand adults who yell at each other (unless they're actors in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie). Or use a hammer to solve a relationship problem (unless the relationship is a break-and-entry). Or that when someone tells you've they've killed someone, they've just announced the capacity to kill you too and it's time to make a call. Otherwise, direction, camera, action and editing were clear, and the zinger at 13:05 was a good one.
June 3, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST
by mike pappa
re:"why he went that way for Frankie - just artistic or creative finger exercises?" first off, thanks for the comment/critique. Much appreciated. I especially like the comment "..actor looks and moves like a puppet..." never gotten that one before. But to answer your question- My intention was to get into live action by creating this short. However, I wanted to take advantage of my animation background/experience to create the characters, the time effects, some of the tone, and environments,etc. Above is a quick summary. If you are interested in hearing more, i recently did an interview on TWITCH. It goes into more detail. http://twitchfilm.com/interviews/2012/04/interview-writer-director-mike-pappa-talks-about-his-time-travel-short-frankie.php
June 4, 2012, 4:04 a.m. CST
by Industrious Angel
Thanks, interesting interview. Frankie really has a unique look - ok, it reminds me a bit of the early Caro sets, but still different - and i was curious why you went that way and how you reached it. btw, the stop-motion orrery did not look "off" to me at all, in fact it fit perfectly with the reminder of the film because everything had that stop-motion effect, as if it was kind of a miniature. So, as this was your first exploration of live action, it's clearly a winner. I hope you'll be able to walk the fine line between the artificial world of animation and the more emotionally loaded world of live action which has broader appeal - I'd sure love to see more movies with such interesting aesthetics!
June 4, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST
It's been on G4TV, iTunes, and VUDU and played festivals last year. Looking to turn it into a feature called Blockworld. We were trying to do a throwback to '80s video games and '70s sci-fi minimalism. http://www.g4tv.com/videos/54039/against-the-wall-a-g4-films-presentation/