Cracker shorts for Christmas
In the Show Me Shorts Screening Room this month, guest writer Clayton Barnett highlights some of his favourite shorts from this year’s festival. Clayton is a promo director for Sky TV, with a passion for film, sports, playing dress-ups, and all things competitive. He edited the trailer for Show Me Shorts that you can find HERE.
We’ve all had that hunger to get somewhere, that human (or giraffe-like) quality to reach a little higher, and there’s nothing like a short film to make you reflect on your own life. Maybe you strive to be respected in your job, to find that special someone, or even just to somersault off a diving platform. Sometimes it’s the abrupt end of a short that catches you off guard, leaving you suddenly contemplating your own station. And the recently concluded 2014 edition of Show Me Shorts had me gazing at my navel on many occasion after some cracker short films.
Dir/Writ: Gabriel Bisset-Smith
One of my absolute favourites at this year’s Show Me Shorts Festival, Toilets showcases a talent to watch: award-winning writer/director and lead actor Gabriel Bisset-Smith. Bisset-Smith crafts a stunner of a high-concept short, completely set in different toilets. With wonderful visuals, a killer soundtrack and such a realistic and funny script, you want it to continue long after the credits roll. Commissioned by the UK magazine Dazed and Confused as part of their ‘Dazed Visionaries’ scheme, the production values here are top-quality. But it’s the tragicomic search for love that really hits home. Toilets will make you laugh, get a bit melancholic and wistful, then laugh all over again. No wonder Bisset-Smith cites Woody Allen’s Annie Hall as one of his major influences.
Dir/Writ/Prod: Allan George, Greg Stubbings
Filmmakers Allan George and Greg Stubbings have both worked on New Zealand’s oddball sports show Crowd Goes Wild. So who would expect anything but a hilarious ‘mockumentary’ about a struggling foley artist in the adult film industry? All sound engineer Dave Dobson wants is to be recognised at the industry’s awards (The Golden Clams) but he’s constantly thwarted by his ball-busting boss Gary and his useless assistant Jake. Stubbing plays Dobson to perfection, and you can completely relate to his slow descent into madness. The visuals that come along with trying to replicate sexual sounds are cringe-worthy and hilarious. The well-deserved winner of best actor and best Maori Director at Tropfest 2013, this short has already screened at other festivals around the world including Austin and Toronto. A must for fans of Flight of the Concords, nothing beats a short that leaves a smile on your face like this.
5 Metres 80
Dir/Writ: Nicolas Deveaux
I’ve always had a love of animated shorts since I was a kid, from Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes and Wallace & Gromit to the brilliant shorts that preface Pixar movies. They’re a great way to get children into shorts and 5 metres 80 is no exception. This playfully absurd short comes from young writer / director Nicolas Deveaux, who obviously has a love of animals (his directorial debut featured an Elephant on a trampoline). Deveaux captures the giraffe’s quirky personalities and mannerisms to a T. There is real poetry to the high dives that’s just captivating. There is little plot to speak of and no dialogue- just stunning visuals accompanied by a beautiful score and soundscape. After watching a slew of dark and sombre shorts (I’m pointing my finger at a few of Kiwi films here) it’s refreshing to dive into something so simply joyful.
After watching a lot of shorts to make the Show Me Shorts trailer, these are three worth repeated viewing. And if you ever want to think about where you are in life, take in a short. It won’t take much of your time and you might just get an idea of heights you want to reach.