1500 Words: Stick & Stones May Break My Bones...

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Or so they say. But what if the key to both your survival and inevitable death were...your own words?! What would you say? This is the internal battle that talented filmmaker Andrew Chaplin attempts to show us in his brilliant, witty new short film "1500 Words".  With an exceedingly inventive premise, the plot of "1500 Words" focuses in on Stanley as he copes with the fact that, like a disease, he has been diagnosed with only 1500 words left to live. What happens after word 1500 is spoken? Well, no surprise here: he will die.  Playing with the concept of terminal illness, this film, while still rather dark, creates something ironically humorous that you can't stop watching. It's like a psychological soap opera into the waning moments of one man's sanity in his final days he accidentally brings upon himself because of his five stages of grief: anger, desperation, thirst, suicide and resignation. His final tipping point? His desperate attempt to make sure, not only his life, but his relationship with his wife stays going as long as possible. How can he logically explain and exist while also saying as little as possible?? Sure, it sounds like serious fare, but Chaplin delicately transforms this concept into the most unexpected but fitting form of black comedy. It'll definitely have you thinking: What would you do if you only had 1500 words left? What would you say? Find out how Stanley copes with his diagnosis and watch the film now!  Love this film? Be sure to check out some more of the best free shorts on the web now on Indie Street!

Embrace Your Inner Grump with "Curmudgeons"

Curmudgeon. Yes, let’s start with the word. Funny little piece of vocabulary there, right? So, what exactly is a curmudgeon? My pal Merriam-Webster tells me that it’s “a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains.” In that case, it’s a word that looks/sounds exactly like what it means. It’s ridiculous, a bit angry looking and doesn’t really roll off the tongue very well. However, there is no better word for Danny DeVito’s recent Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere, “Curmudgeons”, because...well, it’s the title of the film, sure…but it comes to mean so much more by the end. DeVito’s short (written by the brilliant Joshua Conkel) takes place at an assisted living facility, showcasing the shocking yet endearing relationship between two foul-mouthed aging senior citizens. By their sides are their respective (and equally crude) children. Production of this film was quite the family affair as well, with Danny DeVito's kids, Jake and Lucy, onboard. At is plays out, “Curmudgeons” becomes both vulgar and beautiful - often within the same breath. In an instant, a single line of dialogue can go from filthy slur to totally lovable phrase. By the end, the off the wall surprise in the story comes so naturally that you can’t help but smile getting to know these grumpy old men, their families and the strange manner in which they all show they care. Because of the sometimes foul language swordplay, the whole film is like a storybook romance you hide from your kids but secretly enjoy in private. One of the highlights of this short is character actor David Margulies, remembered in quite the role. Though he passed away earlier this year, Margulies was thankfully able to see a cut of the film. Hopefully, he would have been a bit of a grump (to stay in character) but beyond proud of the final product. His talent is honored in a bittersweet way, giving this short an extra layer of magic. The way his character bounces off of the others is sheer acting beauty. With DeVito’s delicate yet exact directing and Conkel’s narrative foundation, the whole package is enhanced to a different dimension. Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Indie Street Film Festival’s New Jersey Short Audience Award, NJ-native DeVito attracted the crowds, the love and the adoration he deserves from all audiences. He's a legend. So, when a legend makes a thing you better believe that thing is gonna be A+. “Curmudgeons” was the perfect kick off for Vimeo’s new Staff Pick Premieres. It’s like a song, but instead of notes, it uses humor and potty mouth humanity, written in a way that humans really didn’t know they needed until they found this film. Yea, you read that right. You need this film. A legend begets a legendary little short. So, come on, dummy, time to see the damn thing! If “Curmudgeons” doesn’t make you wanna embrace your inner curmudgeon, then I don’t know what will. After watching, you may just realise that there is an advantage to embracing vulgarity and being a lovable little pain in the butt yourself! Take a few minutes out of your day and watch Devito's grumpy, lovable film, now playing on Vimeo


Featured Short Film: "Emotional Fusebox"

Mondays. They always come back around too quickly. But hey! Mondays are also a time for featured Indie Street shorts, so they can't be all that bad, eh? How about we brighten up the beginning of your workweek with another amazing online short film?! Last week, we featured a review on Rachel Tunnard's "Adult Life Skills", a whimsical meditation on one woman's stunted emotional development and what it means to finally come of age (even at the rather adult age of almost 30). We mentioned in our review (time for a revisit!) that the 2016 Tribeca-winning filmmaker's feature was an expanded version of her BAFTA-nominated short (and pilot), "Emotional Fusebox". Well, we couldn't just leave it at that. We adored the British short so much, it just needed to be featured on its own. If you've ever had that feeling of being left behind in life, you need to watch this film. Both funny and heartbreaking, it takes two very different emotions and fuses them into a quirky yet relatable examination of what it means to finally face reality.  Jodie Whittaker plays Anna (the same role she reprises in "Adult Life Skills"), a reclusive young woman that lives in her mother's shed in the backyard. Burying herself away from the rest of the world and her own future, she spends much of her time in a fantasy, making little videos with her thumbs. She'd probably be content living out the rest of her life in the middle of this existential crises, but her mother has other plans. When a handsome stranger shows up with a bit of car trouble, this oddball little film takes an unexpected and dramatic turn that reveals exactly what past has caused Anna's stagnant present and directionless future. It's a beautiful transition from the absurd to just pure, bittersweet emotion, showing us that not everybody's story is as it seems.  What "Adult Life Skills" does in over an hour, "Emotional Fusebox" does in just 15 minutes. Charming with cozy, offbeat qualities, it's easy to see why the short transitioned so well into its successful feature length version. Because of Whittaker's likeability as a character and Tunnard's tight direction, both the short and long version of this story work like a package, complementing yet standing out on their own. Melodrama is left behind to reveal a rather easy going interpretation of what it means to have everything you need while feeling like you have nothing at all. In "Emotional Fusebox" we don't really get closure, only a shred of hope and a way to cope. And isn't that just how life really is? Tunnard does well not to wrap up Anna's story. No, like we mentioned about "Adult Life Skills" - life is bloody messy. So, like Anna, it's one step at a time towards the future. Take your first step now by checking out "Emotional Fusebox"!  

  Loving this film? You can watch more of the best (and free!) online shorts now on Indie Street!

Featured Short: "Killer", A Coming of Age Story

Growing up is hard. If you don't agree with that statement, you are probably either a baby or you have memory loss. Or maybe those formative years are so excruciatingly painful to recall, you've chosen to bury the memories deep down into your past. If that's so, no worries - you're not alone. When I was a child, I often felt like I was the only human being in the world and everyone else was a robot - or vice versa. As long as I felt like the odd one out, I felt comfortable. And though I spent the first five years of my life pretty much mute, that didn't stop me from thinking I could curse all the losers at school via telepathy. This was my "superpower", and because I didn't have many friends, no one could tell me otherwise. Behind my back, they would just call me adorable and shy. How little they knew of my powers! And then one day, just like that, I grew up. It's a hell of an awkward time to recall. Let's just say, thank god there wasn't middle school Facebook in the 1990s.  Did you have a "superpower" as a kid? One that made you a breed all your own? Impervious to all adults, geeks and bullies? Chances are, yea you did. Dusty, the young protagonist in Matt Kazman's festival favorite, "Killer", sure did. This unapologetic, 20-minute ride into adolescence is heightened and beautifully unforgiving in how it chooses to portray its particular brand of "coming of age". You see, Dusty's friends are spreading a sorta ol' wives tale that when you masturbate, somebody dies. This results in poor Dusty thinking that when he ... uh ... pleasures himself, he is capable of murder. And because of strange circumstances beyond his control, he's not crazy in thinking that. The first time he masturbates, his mother accidentally dies. The second time, a bird flies into the window and dies. Will there be a third time? Well, with the looming threat of the school bully weighing on him, he's willing to find out. Dusty's grief turns his "superpower" into a ticket - one that could possibly help him overcome the thick of that awkward inbetween time in life - between childhood and adulthood. Puberty, sex, experimentation, standing up for himself ... it seems touching is the cause and effect, or the answer, that he was looking for all along.  In the end, Dusty ... well, Dusty learns. Like I said, growing up is hard. There's no "superpower" that gets you through it all. You've got to learn for yourself through every awkward mistake and mishap. It just so happens Kazman gave his character one of the most solidly embarrassing ways to "come of age". "Killer" is fun, brutal, and hilarious while still embracing and balancing a necessary sadness. This is a dark comedy after all. Throughout the silliness of "Killer", we also see a young boy experience the loss of his mother and a newly widowed father learn to teach his son the right values in life. The two extremes meet in the middle and it just works. From being a hit everywhere from Sundance to Palm Springs, "Killer" came out on top of its festival run, earning the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Short at the Seattle International Film Festival.  We've all been kids before and this short will remind you of how good it is to be a grown up. With age comes wisdom, so count your lucky stars your "superpower" was left in the past. But heck, for old times' sake, relive those years by checking out "Killer" now! Enjoyed this short? You can watch Kazman's other Indie Street featured short film, "Hasta La Vista", here!

"We Are the Night" Bacardi Ad by Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry is a man of many talents - filmmaker, music video director, commercial maker. In all of his work, he always creates vivid, quirky little worlds that only his talents and visions can produce. His new ad for Bacardi is no different. A little more down to Earth in terms of over-the-top flair, the popular rum company's commercial is still a lot of fun and totally in line with Gondry's brand of whimsy. The ad follows a cab as it travels through a city full of stereotypes of late night revelers: “glow gals” on their phones, “ice maidens” who don’t care to don a coat despite the weather, “coat check skippers” that party in parkas, “midnight feasters” (me), “last-train sprinters” - the list goes on. Featuring a tunnel with walls that resemble a disco ball, it’s hard not to spot your party-self in here somewhere. As the ad states: “We Are The Night”. Head here to check out more about the "groovy" ad. While you’re at it, you can check out Gondry's most recent music video for The White Stripes here. Also, be sure to catch his newest film “Microbe and Gasoline”, a coming of age road trip story.    


Maria's Pick: "Great Headless Blank"

Happy September! The seasons are a-changing but our collaboration with Maria DicieanuSubmarine Channel author & former editor, happily remains! Maria has introduced us to quite the assortment of music videos over the past few months, from interactive offerings to videos using stunning visual effects (read more about last month’s pick here). The September Pick is something completely different but just as jawdropping and visually innovative. We present the animated wonder that is Makeunder’s “Great Headless Blank”, created by artist Carine Khalife.  Though Makeunder, an indie rock troupe based in Oakland, released their Great Headless Blank EP a year ago, the visual accompaniment to the title track has just been released… and boy, was it worth the wait. Premiering on VICE's The Creators Project last month, each frame of the music video was hand painted on glass by artist/director Carine Khalife. Swirls of colors greet us, filling the void of where our character’s head should be. Musically-speaking, "Great Headless Blank" gives off beautifully punctuated, deeply inspired emotions through its building of harmonies and instrumentation. In fact, Makeunder’s EP was inspired by a large amount of grief and trauma, and that can be felt and heard through both the music and visuals. Like some type of fever vision, it's triggering and calmingly hypnotic all at once. Hamilton Ulmer, the man behind the tune, said he has “always seen music as a visual medium” - and the synthesis of this track with Khalife’s style couldn’t be a better example of that phrase. Khalife’s work is a journey that spins a tale as chaotic as it is melodic. Maria beautifully explains her spot on pick below:
  “Painter-photographer and visual artist Carine Khalife stuns us again creating a mesmerizing music video, this time for Makeunder's “Great Headless Blank” - the title track of their forthcoming EP. Back in 2011, Khalife delivered the spectacular promo “Blown Minded” for Young Galaxy. Music video director and mastermind David Wilson called it back then in Motionographer “a rare gem”, “one of the most beautiful animated films seen all year” raving that “the fluidity of the oil paint and connection with the music just washes over you”.  In the “Great Headless Blank” Carine uses the same paint-with-oil-on-glass frame by frame technique as in Blown Minded, yet brings more color and spices things up with a psychedelic vibe. The torments, thoughts and explorations residing in the protagonist's mind, are beautifully visualized in a carousel of brush strokes. The fluidity she manages to pull out of the jerky frames is mind boggling, to the extent it almost seems she is using rotoscoping techniques (she isn't though!). The visuals enrich the audio track with more depth and possibilities, making it an overall spectacular collaboration. Carine Khalife confesses that “she only needed to hear the first notes to jump in” the project, which, thanks to her artistry, is just as long as we need, as viewers, to fully emerge in the liquid consciousness of the protagonist. What an incredibly immersive visual journey!” If you’re looking for something both energetic and relaxing, you've found it in this music video. As the song states: "I’m waiting for an escape to unfold while I dream, 
While I am asleep, 
I’m waiting for the hole to mend me, 
And make it all better."  The irony is, this video may be all the escape you need! You can watch Maria’s Pick below. Stay tuned for next month! 

  About Maria: "Multimedia in Human Form. Media researcher. Journalist. Filmmaker. PR and Social Media Mind. Cinephille. TV Shows aficionado. Books Lover. Music Video guru and former curator of the project" 

Featured Short: "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way"

Bulgarian filmmaker Kevork Aslanyan has concocted quite the rare mixed breed of short film with the delightful "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way". Indie Street consensus? He totally hit the mark. A pinch of quirkiness, a dab of smart science fiction, and a splash of the absurd all mix together to create an "out of this world" viewing experience in this futuristic take on a world where gravity no longer works for skinny people. Literally. Both visually and conceptually innovative, this official 2016 Indie Street Film Festival narrative short selection was a total crowd pleaser in Red Bank this summer and we are thrilled that Aslanyan's film is now available online, via NOWNESS. "Getting Fat in a Healthy Way" is that genius type of film where the title perfectly encompasses its story. In a post-communist world, Constantine is a shy, incredibly skinny young man who lives with his overbearing (and obese) father - one who watches over him like a hawk after a tragic American space mission gone wrong. To put it bluntly, the flawed mission basically broke gravity and his mother, along with all skinny people, floated away forever. It's not until Constantine gets the hots for a plump lady neighbor across the way (one he watches from the safety of his window) that he will see his life change forever.  With a running time of 22 minutes, "Getting Fat..." is a long short film but one absolutely worth the time investment if you're on the hunt for a clever foreign film that also happens to be a wonderful example of filmmaking coming out of Eastern Europe. Story aside, the look and art direction of this film is on par with anything that the likes of Wes Anderson and others are doing. It's unique, it pops, it's 100% strange, and it should definitely bring a bit of glee to your life on this Monday morning. You can enjoy the ISFF fav now on Indie Street


Featured Short: All Your Favorite TV Shows!

Chances are, you’re probably reading this on a smart device. Even if you’re not, technology has brought you here in some form, whether via laptop, desktop, or any internet enabled outlet in between. Let’s face it. It’s almost impossible these days to go without some type of online media consumption. News, videos, photos, social media. We are surrounded and surrendered with our hands up, still looking for the next like, follow, viral story, etc. Ornana’s 2015 animated short “All Your Favorite TV Shows!” is a highly imaginative and insanely energetic construction of our desire to consume. The film’s mission, through a mix of animation and slickly edited, repurposed pop-culture footage, is to showcase this need through a young boy's unhealthy obsession with (moving image) media via his tablet. As the line starts to blur between his reality in front of the screen and what's happening on screen, the short begins to play out like a fast-paced, action-packed, psychological thriller. And though there isn't a lot of action or thrills happening within the boy's actual life (at least until the very end), we can't look away. A sort of hybrid-animation, director Danny Madden and team's brilliant usage of editing is the stand-out star in this film. The juxtaposition of memorable scenes from television, film and branding from the past few decades against Madden's signature style convey so much without having to say much. You’re guaranteed to watch this film and have an “a-ha!” moment, whether it’s about the deeper intent of the film or just from recognition of a quick cut. By the time the credits are rolling, you may also be rolling in memories. However, it’s not long after that, that the message of the film hits. Sitting in front of the screen from day to day, hasn't it all gotten to be a bit normal and part of our routine? We feed ourselves the convenience of fast-paced consumption, like this young boy, to the point where it's commonplace.  I sit here typing this in front of two computer screens, a smart phone to my left and a television to my right. Oh, the irony! "All Your Favorite TV Shows!" makes things even more ironic because I enjoy watching it, craving more after it ends. But I guess that's just it: we continue to be in awe every time we revisit one of Ornana’s films, whether animated, live-action, or a mix of both. So, pick up your smart device and watch to your heart's content! You can revisit “All Your Favorite TV Shows!” here and while you’re at it, you can also check out a few more of their innovative shorts, such as “(notes) on biology” and “Confusion Through Sand”! Starting this week, you'll also be able to watch Ornana’s first full feature film “euphonia” for free via Indie Street! So much to watch! Enjoy!

The Evolution of Stop-Motion Animation in Film

The title for this one speaks itself! If you're interested in how animation techniques have evolved over time, you gotta check out this fascinating visual history of stop-motion animation in film. From the magic of the silent era all the way to the jaw-dropping usage of stop-motion today, watch as technology shapes one of the coolest methods of animation out there. You can read more about "The Evolution of Stop-Motion" project here.

Featured Short: "A Different Kind of Movement"

From their imaginative animation “(notes) on biology” and the animated-live action hybrid “All Your Favorite Shows!” to their intense, purposely distressing and explosive “Confusion Through Sand” and their “ear” catching feature film “euphonia”, Ornana are simply champions of it all. Last week, we threw it back to their 2012 SXSW Best Animation winner “(notes) on biology”, an animated flip-book style meditation on the results of daydreaming through Biology class. This week, in the lead up to presenting their 2013 sound-centric feature film “euphonia” on Indie Street, we are throwing it back again...but this time to 2015. We are thrilled to revisit something a little more “real” and a bit more down to Earth from the team - their fully live action short, “A Different Kind of Movement”.  With a longer running time of 19 mins, this short spends its entire length feeling vaguely familiar and all too real. We meet Max and Jess, old acquaintances that, for one night, revisit their past, parts of themselves buried away and elements they knew and didn’t know about each other. What is it about these two that draw us in? It’s like we are almost forced to recognize some pieces of ourselves in them - were they possibly once star-crossed? Maybe fated for this one night? Perhaps never again? Like Ornana’s live-action feature “euphonia”, sound and subtlety are also important in this story. A look, a miscommunication, an unspoken desire - things that are not told but implied are crucial here and increasingly necessary to the story. Every shared moment between the pair, every pause, feels somewhat uncomfortable because, though there is a slight, glossy poetry to their dialogue, there really is no sheen to their narrative. And that’s okay. There doesn’t need to be. Director Danny Madden perfectly navigates real life to showcase the raw vulnerability of both a hello and a goodbye, ones that seem both warranted and unwarranted. I guess we will never know.  In the end, we walk away, like our two characters. We aren’t meant to stay in this story and neither are they. That's the beauty of it all. An unusual, but more true to life conclusion greets us - summoned in by a team that usually works so well in the surreal and imaginative world of animation that, in contrast, this unfamiliar territory actually feels surprisingly welcoming and familiar by the end. Trust us - this is required viewing if you want to explore Ornana’s whole range of talent. You won’t be disappointed. We look forward to catching up with Ornana again next week when featuring their uniquely audio-focused feature “euphonia”. Until then, be sure to revisit (or visit for the first time!) the tender, exceptionally real life “A Different Kind of Movement” in preparation!

Featured (Throwback) Short: (notes) on biology

Oh, great! It’s Monday again. How did that happen? Since we are already feeling a bit nostalgic for the weekend, we thought we would carry that feeling through and do a little throwback for our featured short this week! And since we are already rewinding the clock back, we might as well feature a film that also incites a sense of nostalgia, too. Danny Madden’s “(notes) on biology”, winner of the 2012 Best Animation Award at SXSW, recalls those boring, lazy days spent in high school, diverting your attention towards anything other than the droning voice of your teacher. However, in “(notes) on biology”, this particular day is anything but boring. Doodles and flip books help one student totally escape into a world created through his own imagination, far from the dull clutches of his Biology class. A variety of animated styles "draw" us into this daydreaming adventure of chaos and robot elephants, making class actually seem like something worth attending. If only it was always this fun to recall sitting through Biology class on a Monday morning, we’d be dreaming about those awkward teenage years all of the time! Let’s throw it back to the good ol’ days of classroom antics by watching Ornana’s totally fun and clever little award-winning animation. Enjoy this hearty double dose of nostalgia and watch the short here!