Category Archives: Short Film Reviews

Short Film Reviews

Short of the (every few) week(s)!: WORLD-BUILDING

Hello Internet Dwellers!

In consistently inconsistent fashion your favourite wedge of Internet cheese is back, once more here to stain your palette with it’s fragrance and flavours. This week we are looking at World Building. Specifically around the idea of futuristic/dystopian type shorts where you need to very quickly explain to the viewer where they are, what the status quo is and set up any rules which will inevitably broken later on.

The short I’ve chosen for this is THE EXIT ROOM written and directed by Tom Wiseman and loosely based on “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”.

Open your eyes and watch this:

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HERE BE SPOILERS
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Welcome back. So, pretty brutal eh?

Ok so the ending was a bit cheap but definitely makes it provoke a reaction. The production value of this very impressive &almost feels like cheating by having the world’s second best looking man (Charlie from Girls) in your short. Timothy Olyphant is number one obviously.

But in terms of world building how well does it do? Personally I found it a great example. Using things like the Youtube to explain the back story is brilliant and certainly something I’ll be looking to rip-off at some stage. (See also Catfish’s use of Facebook/Google Maps/ iTunes interfaces. These tools are now as ubiquitous to us as an Indiana Jones’s style map overlay. Instantly understood and can be a great solution to wordy exposition).   It lets you quickly and relativity cheaply cram a lot of information into the front end of your short so by the time we get into the meat of the story we have a very good sense of where we are and what the issues of this world are.

From there it’s about creating a consistent world. The look of the rooms and especially the costumes/props all work so well to make you feel this is a real world when in fact all we get is a few corridors.

One aside, and I’d be interested to see if anyone else picked up on this, but was the buzzer sound the same as the exit room gun sound? I remember the first time I watched it it immediately but very subconsciously made me realise something was not right, without it being too obvious.

So in short, set your world out quickly, define your rules, make them consistent and then have fun breaking them.

FURTHER WATCHING:

Prospect

Hugely rated sci-fi drama, I wasn’t mad on it but again it’s all about making a consistent believable world. Amazing what the costumes/props add to it. If they hadn’t looked good it would have just looked like some people being weird in a forest. With them you can buy this being an alien land. This has been optioned for a feature.

 

Short(s) of the Week(s?)!

Hey friends!

The eagle-eyed amongst you (Shaff) may have noticed that the weekly format of this slice of Internet pie fell apart faster than Heroes Season 2. Well to make up for it I present to you three fine shorts spread over two delectable topics  for your viewing business/pleasure.

So without further “a Jew”, open wide and cram this down your gob.

PART UN (ONE): THE MONTAGE

As the song in Team America went – “We’re gonna need a montage. I love a good montage. You normally get a load of great scenes together, stuff actually happens and invariably there’s a cracking song or “Fix You” by Coldplay, in the background. A montage in a short can be tricky to pull off as you have limited time to set things up. If done well though you can really increase the weight of your piece by making the journey feel longer/deeper.

First up in this category we have “Set No Path” by Brooks Reynolds.

Watch it and let’s meet downstairs in seventeen minutes and ten seconds.

Ok, you back? Pretty depressing eh? Sorry about that… But hey how bout those montages eh? I loved how they used three stitched together with some Dawson’s Creek-esque acting bits. The editing of the montage sequences was incredible, linking the present day, flash forwards and using the Super-8 style camcorder footage for the flashbacks – all worked perfectly. Mucho kudos to Justin Dube for providing a brilliant soundtrack.

PART TWO: “Using your limits to your advantage OR How I have no money…”

Next up is an great example of how to do a lot with a little. It’s ALSO an example of a montage type piece. Pretty smart eh Stephan? (Yeah Andrew you are the best! – Stephan).

This is a short by a fellow called Gabriel Bisset-Smith and is named “Thrush”. Watch it with your eyes.

Pretty neat eh? Amazing how you can do so much with relatively little. Also think of all the issues this overcomes that might be stopping you from being able to tell your story – be it access to good actors, directors, camerapeople. Of course not every story can be told in this format but it’s a good example of thinking outside the box. Spotify did something along the same lines of using very little to do a lot for their recent ad campaign.

Another great example of this is Mark Colombus’s “Battle of the Jazz Guitarist”. Now those amongst you who are Stephan know how much I love this. Superb use of basically just subtitles to tell a story. Sit back and enjoy.

Wow. Eh? If that didn’t make you reconsider how you are planning your short I dunno what will. The way the subtitles change, or reveal, to be more of a stream of consciousness is amazing . And anything with M83 will always get bonus points from me.

Ok that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week. Comment below. First comment wins a prize. Comment!

Short of the Week 1: ACTION SHORTS

Hello you!

As a new regular section of the website I, Andrew (@flightrisker), will be bringing you a weekly helping of short films, placed carefully onto an Internet-spoon and then crammed into your greedy mouth. I shall attempt to loosely theme these posts but I’m already predicting that these themes will descend into a farcical attempt at “professionalism” by about week 3.

Each week, under the flimsy umbrella that is the theme, I will post one Short of the Week as well as one to several other on theme shorts that may be of interest. First we’ll watch the short and then we’ll scroll down for some word soup concerning what we just witnessed. Feel free to then take the discussion outside (comments) and disagree wildly with any and everything I have just typed.


 

This week we’re looking at “Action Shorts” – specifically ones which rely heavily on one long action sequence. Action shorts can work very well as you have limited time to set up characters and a story anyway so if you just jump right in to some fisticuffs then you can usually get away with not having too much of those other things.

However, if you do take the time to add in these elements you can elevate a technically sound fight sequence to a very effective and dramatic piece of short film. This week’s short is “CONTROLLER” by Iranian born writer/director Saman Kesh. Saman has mostly made long-form music videos before this short film which is evident in the style of this piece. Midnight Club Pt.1″ and Placebo – Loud Like Love” are worth checking out, more from a technical point of view.

Anyway, let’s watch it and then we can talk some more. Please set your vibrators to cell phone mode.

 


 

Back? Great. So hopefully you enjoyed “CONTROLLER”. I thought it did a lot of things well. You were sold the concept and given an emotional hook in four subtitled lines in the first 45 seconds. The siren going off and the slightly creepy smile immediately give it an uneasy tone which is explored more later on. The censoring effect is quite interesting and is a pretty fresh feeling idea, using video techniques but making them out to be “in-world”.

Once the helmet is put on we’re given another unique element – a video game style menu bar at the bottom where we get to see the various “moves” that the”Controller” is choosing from. The fist is selected and one of the two men in the lift is brutally taken down. I loved that it then trucks out of the elevator and doesn’t show what happens to the second man. We then get a long pan up the building following the elevator as the siren returns and the titles appear.

The fight scene is brilliantly constructed and has some great sequences and innovative set pieces. If I have one criticism it is that maybe there should have been some point where you felt he was in peril. Maybe some type of a “boss” character that wouldn’t have folded quite as easily? Might have added a little to the drama of it.

The dynamic between the boyfriend and girlfriend is very compelling. It’s not your typical guy saves girl trope. She’s using her power to have him save her. This not only keeps her from being a typical damsel but it gives a complexity to their relationship (“Take it easy on these guys” / “Why did you do that?”).

Things take a bit of a twist as he leaves the office room and is confronted by the hazmat guys. Here it’s heavily implied that perhaps saving her isn’t such a great idea. Regardless of the morality of the company’s reasons for keeping her you do start to get the feeling that was still probably a good thing she was not free. They pretty much confirm this by the end (“Isn’t this going to hurt more people?” / “Yes. Sorry.”). This creeping notion and the gory deaths of the hazmat guys is juxtaposed with the beautiful, triumphant score, which for me at least gave the ending a very unsettling feeling. (The soundtrack is all on Spotify and is well worth a listen.)

The film then closes with the girlfriend answering the question that opened the film rounding it all off rather nicely.

Please comment below friends!

 


 

Further viewing

  • If you enjoyed that it’s worth checking out “I___U” which is a prequel to “CONTROLLER”.
  • Burning Hearts by James McFay is also an interesting take on mixing genres a bit, slightly dodgy acting and a denim jacket you’ll never forget. Takes a bit to get going but worth sticking with.
  • Not a short but I gotta plug the fight sequence in Blood and Bone from the always awesome Michael Jai White. This is how you do story telling in a fight sequence. Bonus points for a two second short of Julian Sands.