One more thing SXSW has triggered: a newfound rediscovery of the power of the short film. At “South By,” that film was mostly a well-funded Canadian film called Hiro—a well-shot, well-crafted live-action piece heavily inspired by Asian manga and anime. (Hiro also won the SXSW short competition.) But compared to the year before, when only one short (Termination, by Paul Alvarado-Dykstra) rose well above the typical first-year film student level, this year scores of shorts were good, many almost captivating. From heavy-hitting documentary subjects (Arturo Cabanas’ Man Up), to honest, personal vignettes done with style (Rebecca Haimowitz’ Follow Me, or Risa Machuca and Fanny Veliz’ Shortstop).
But what has really possessed my every waking thought is what I’ve discovered since the festival. Or perhaps my eyes are just wide open now, able to see clearly. My best friend Jance steered me over to the always-brilliant Stu Maschwitz’ blog just in time for MySimilo, a digital short that seems to have launched something of an online craze. Sure, this new G35 adapter possibly does more for DV filmlook than grain or 24p, but that isn’t really what thrilled me about this piece. (Although yes, shallow depth-of-field is absolutely beautiful.) What floored me is that in only six minutes, the filmmakers tell a compelling story with minimal setup, locations, sets, and props—yet a level of emotion that rivals some of the best feature films out there. To make me feel something powerful with so little time invested is an absolute inspiration.
This and the wonderful web of hyperlinking has led me on to find a considerable number of short gems online. Some, like Scott Rice’s films (see Perils in Nude Modeling and Pillowfight, in sub-par compression quality, at Atomfilms), I sought out because they are the work of local Austin filmmakers with awards. (And thanks to a good recommendation.) Others, like the brilliant volume of shorts from Jeff Consiglio, simply by being listed alongside MySimilo in someone else’s list. (There are many more, but I’ll let you Google for yourself.)
Consiglio co-founded an L.A.-based collective called Group101Films with an interesting premise: the vow to create a short film every 30 days. While I’d love to aspire to that insane mandate, it seems a fairly lofty goal to pull off alone. Perhaps with the right local network (anyone?) and some collaborative role-switching each month, I’d be happy to give something like that a go.
In any case, I’m definitely dusting off my list of short film ideas and re-evaluating each of them with new (and newly-inspired) eyes. Wide open eyes.
Short and sweet. Less is more.