Posted by lemonjelly on:
This is the film series that single-handedly turned me off of the SBIFF for a number of years. Not the films themselves, but how they were presented. A few years back, they were shown at the Center Stage Theater, which seats about, what, 100 people?
After the filmmakers and platinum pass holders and media got in, perhaps 3-8 regular passholders were let through. WAT?! It seemed to me that this would be one of the most attended events at the festival, spotlighting local filmmakers and a big ol' group of them at that. Rumor has it, this was the night that inspired Parry Gripp's Megaphone song.
The SBIFF has learned since then that the local shorts needs a bigger venue, and on Thursday, 3 February, the series played at the more suitably sized Lobero Theater. The crowds were wild for their friends and there was much ruckus cheering. Afterwards, those in the audience who stuck around were treated to a gauntlet of the filmmakers who spoke briefly about the film and what has inspired their filmmaking careers.
Let's start, from right to left:
Jason Hallows, whose been in the film festival a number of times, and who also contributing to some of the editing of the SBIFF's opening Megaphone credits, offered The Other Astronaut this year. It was a clever piece of a brooding solitary man who shuns social interaction in favor of staring at the moon. My skin creeped at the first twist in the plot.
Ted Mills, who also collaborated with other local artists on the opening night's VIP lounge's art installation showed Wallace Carothers, a highly interpreted documentary on the real-life inventor of nylon. The program came about from the Film Production class he leads at City College, when he challenged his students to create similar projects and offered to do one alongside them. Many of the films actors were spotted in the audience tonight.
Jessica Hokanson brought us The Farmer, a short experimental animation film where the human form mimics the slow persistent growth of nature.
Kirsten Cavendish's film was Scooterman, a well-polished romantic comedy based on the life of a scooterman, a driver-for-hire based in London who will come to his clients' parties on a compact scooter and drive them home in their own car. Despite the male antagonist being so obviously vile that you'd have to wonder why the heroine would put up with him for five years, it's was the kind of feel-good film I'd expect to see on the big screen come christmastime.
The three fellows centered above represent two more films.
First, Cameron Alexander (speaking with the mic), showed One By One, a teen horror that takes place in a creepy old house. Next to him is his first DP, Patrick Lawler, who was one of my favorite speakers of the night, because he confessed it was a mistake that he was up on stage but now that he was there, he couldn't just walk away.
The man thinking desperately about what to say on stage is Jared Ingram, whose First Day film told the story of two young sisters and one prepares for her first day of school. I may not be the type that enjoys cute little kid comedies, but I was darned impressed at Ingram's ability to bring out such emotion and style in his young nieces, who acted their parts perfectly. It seemed near miraculous to me that he managed to film the entire piece with the girls in two weekends. His neices were in the audience and seemed to enjoy the night out...er, except when some of the darker tones of the other films popped up. Then, it was covered eyes and a few tears.
I apologize for this photo, but I'm trying to condense the group shots. Everyone looks so humble and shy, but they all spoke their piece, I promise.
Far on the right is the writer/director of The Extraordinary Fight of Atticus Walker and the Monster in his Mind, Michael Carman. Whew, that was a mouthful. Most everyone in the audience enjoyed this film very much. It was funny, clever, and brought up themes nearly all of us have experienced: the demons that wreak havoc on our self-confidence. Except that Atticus must eventually fight back.
The darkest film of the night, The Fourth Horseman, was shown by Joseph Dietsch. A post apocalyptic earth and the people who must survive on it.
Michael Warner presented Under Surveillance, a short comedy of a group of under cover agents and their surprising motivations behind their work. Warner told the audience afterwards that his inspiration for the film was to get a filmmaker's pass to the SBIFF. Er. Okay. Awkward.
Alyssa Price brought us The Monstrosity, another young girl comng-of-age story. Reminisent of a Nickalodean after school special, our heroine deals with the humiliation of a glaringly obvious mark of adolescence. It was cute and well-done, although it was hard to figure out what was Alyssa's inspiration for the film as she seemed stuck in a personal trauma of her own when spotlighted on the stage without knowing what to say.
Finally, Garrett Swann, who clearly had the largest peanut gallery in the Lobero, showed The Plot, a story of three self-absorbed siblings who cannot come together in the face of death. Without the doubt, the funeral director in the film stole the show.
The Local Shorts airs one last time, TONIGHT, 10:30 at the Metro 4. Be there, or be stuck on the 101 southbound s-curve on a Friday evening for an eternity!