Short Films

AFF Screens Texas Shorts on Wednesday

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AFF Texas Shorts imageThe Austin Film Festival has compiled a slate of short films for "An Evening of Texas Shorts" as part of their 20th anniversary celebration. This Wednesday evening at the Texas Spirit Theatre of the Bob Bullock State History Museum, 11 shorts with Texas ties from past AFFs will be shown (tickets are $5, free for AFF members).

In the program:

Some Analog Lines (2006), David Lowery
An essay film about technology. Lowery's buzzworthy feature Ain't Them Bodies Saints comes out later in August.

The Significant Other (1994), Tassos Rigopoulos
A single woman's friends bug her about finding a guy. Filmed at an Amy's Ice Creams (it looks like it's the original Guadalupe location) in 1993 and shot on 16mm.

Oh My God (2004), John Bryant
Looks like this one is a very dark comedy. Jette says, "I had to watch it peeking between my fingers over my eyes, but it was hilarious." The short also screened at Sundance Film Festival. Bryant is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for another dark comic short, John 3:16.

Pigeon: Impossible (2009), Lucas Martell
Animated short about a special agent troubled by a pigeon in his suitcase. Martell is now working on a new short film, The OceanMaker. Watch Pigeon Impossible below:

Austin Filmmakers Carry 'The Book of Joe' to Hollywood

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It's an amazing honor to see local filmmakers' work showcased here in town. It's even more amazing when those same filmmakers have the opportunity to present their movies outside of Texas. Such is the case with Austin filmmaker Mario J. Pena and his sci-fi short film The Book of Joe.

Pena's film has been selected to screen in the "Midnight Madness" shorts program on August 17 during the HollyShorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. This will be the second festival run for the film following its sold-out world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival's Shorts Fest Weekend this past June.

The film was produced and shot last year here in Austin, and is Pena's most recent collaboration with producers Alex Davis-Lawrence and Samantha Rae Lopez, as well as art director Dana Archip. Archip and Pena's previous work includes the winner of the 2010 Fantastic Fest Bumper Competition, Cherry Pie. The Book of Joe also appears to be a first for several local actors, including Geronimo Son, Stephanie Ard and Mike Vera.

The Value of Shorts: David Fabelo and His 'Do Over' Philosophy

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Movie Still

It's been native Austinite David Fabelo's philosophy for years: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's worked in Fabelo's romantic life -- despite spilling a beer on a woman during their first date he redeemed himself and now they're married. It's also worked in his professional life, with the release of his award-winning short film Do Over, about Adam (Garrett Jester), a high schooler who attempts to make a good first impression on his date with Sarah (Jacobi Alvarez).

This attitude of utilizing experimentation in an attempt to get it "right" has led co-writer/director Fabelo to VHX, an online platform that allows independent filmmakers to distribute their content directly to their fans via paywall. Fabelo has used VHX to set up a site where viewers can preview and hopefully purchase a download of Do Over.

"It's about putting a value on our work," said Fabelo. "A way to value shorts." 

AFS Announces SXSW 2013 ShortCase Winners

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Asternauts Still Photo

This year's SXSW Community Screening: Austin Film Society ShortCase will be held Sunday, March 10 at 4 pm in Boyd Vance Theater at the Carver Museum, and will feature short films by Central Texas filmmakers ranging from science fiction to history, comedy to documentary. The screening is open to the general public (and free), but seating is limited so I suggest arriving early.

This year over 65 entries were submitted by AFS filmmakers. AFS Program and Operations Manager Ryan Long, AFS Marketing and Events Coordinator Austin Culp and I worked together to select the seven best films to fill the 90-minute screening time. We saw a lot of creative content representing the talent of AFS filmmakers, and we hope the SXSW audience will enjoy these films as much as we do.

For filmmakers who didn't make the cut, we hope that you'll submit films for future ShortCase events and take advantage of the programs available to the AFS filmmaker members.

Without further ado, here are this year's SXSW ShortCase films:

Sundance 2013: Watch Austin Short 'Black Metal' Online Now

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Black Metal Still PhotoI'm passionate about short films -- as evidenced by my role as a programmer for Austin Film Society's ShortCase series -- and hope to see quite a few at Sundance this coming week. A record number of 8,102 short films were submitted for the 2013 Sundance Short Film program, with only 65 short films making the cut. 

You don't have to trek to Park City to enjoy some of these shorts -- a dozen of the best are now available online in The Screening Room, a YouTube channel curated by Sundance short film programmers. Austin represents with local writer/director Kat Candler's Black Metal, starring Jonny Mars (Saturday Morning Massacre, Hellion) and Heather Kafka (Lovers of Hate). This short yet powerful and evocative piece leaves viewers wanting more of the story of Ian, a death metal rocker who must deal with the consequences of a fan's actions.  

Watch Black Metal here after the jump.

AFF Review: Shorts Program 8 ,'The Future Now'

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HENRi still photo

Science fiction is an often under-represented genre in local film festivals, but this year's Austin Film Festival (AFF) has been quite the exception, especially with AFF Shorts Program 8 "The Future Now." This program boasts not only high quality filmmaking, but also features some heavy-hitting new filmmakers and recognizable cast members. I was amazed by the evocative nature of each film, whether the emotional reaction brought forth was laughter, awe or tears.

By far I was most impressed with HENRi, directed by Eli Sasich, which was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2010 for which Sasich continues to provide updates to his backers. Set in the future, a derelict spaceship controlled by Hybrid Electronic/Neuron Responsive Intelligence -- HENRi for short -- and powered by a human brain, has begun to experience disjointed memories of its original owner. Find out more about this film that pays homage to sci-fi greats such as 2001: Space Odyssey and Isaac Asimov's "Laws of Robotics" after the jump, as well as both local and international short films featured in "The Future Now" program.

Fantastic Fest 2012: Two from Austin

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Dialogue filmmakers

What better way to wrap up Slackerwood's Fantastic Fest 2012 coverage than with a look at the two Austin-made shorts that screened during the festival, both of which I enjoyed? And what could be more fitting than to publish this article on the day that Fantastic Fest selection Sinister, written by an Austinite, opens in U.S. theaters? (I love it when I can find a reason that doesn't look like procrastination on my part.)

Dialogue is a very short short -- about one minute long -- from the Austin filmmakers pictured above. Christopher Palmer, Josh Johnson and Carolee Mitchell took a break from working on their upcoming documentary about VHS tapes, Rewind This, to shoot this unsettling conversation between a couple (Daniel Sergeant and Samantha Pitchel) about something unusual that's happening to one of them. The short film is set in a living room but it's not the setting that's creepy. It was a perfect fit for Fantastic Fest, is all I'm going to say. Johnson wrote and directed, Mitchell produced, and Palmer worked on post-production.

Faces of Austin 2013 Open for Entries

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Faces of Austin

The City of Austin is looking for short movies for their Faces of Austin 2013 project. The shorts can be music videos, documentaries, narrative -- anything that depicts the vibrancy and diversity of our fair city. As in years past, selected entries will premiere during Community Screenings at the SXSW Film Festival, and then be shown at City Hall, on Channel 6 and in other showcases throughout the upcoming year. 

Entries to this program must be made by a local filmmaker (or commissioned through an Austin organization) and filmed in Austin or about Austin-area topics and organizations. The short must be 10 minutes or less in length, and can't be selected by SXSW for any of its other short programs.

Local 'chunky_bacon' Doc Premieres at ... a Software Conference?

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Well, this is a first. Slackerwood often publishes movie reviews from film-festival screenings. Even film conferences. But software conferences? Never been done -- until now.

chunky_bacon is a short documentary from Austin filmmaker Kevin Triplett. The film premiered earlier this month at the Lone Star Ruby Conference. Ruby is a programming language that's been the foundation for many of the so-called Web 2.0 sites that ushered in the age of the interactive and social web.

The doc recounts the work and ultimate death of the persona known as Why the Lucky Stiff, or just _why to his friends. _why was known throughout the Ruby community not only as a stunningly prolific programmer, but also an artist. His most famous creation was a free book called Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby. It's an odd, loopy software manual intertwined with strange narrative and punctuated by twisted Lynda Barry-like cartoons. It aims to teach Ruby programming to non-programmers -- you know, artsy types, not pocket-protecter-wearing, technical certification wielding, Microsoft-worshipping nerds.

Then one day, _why decided -- for reasons unknown -- to commit digital suicide. He removed all traces of his creations from the web: the posts, the code repositories, the wonderful book. And then he died.

Austin 48 Hour Film Project Meetup This Thursday

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Katie Schneller holds the slate during the 2007 48HFP. 

The 48 Hour Film Project competition happens this summer, and there will be a meet-and-greet on Thursday, July 19 for folks interested in taking part. Thursday's free get-together [RSVP here] will be held at Vuka Coop from 7-10 pm with music provided by DJ kidGorilla. Registration for August's project will be held at the event -- it's $140 until July 30 (when the registration price increases).

The project gives participants 48 hours (August 24-26) to complete a short film; more than 4,000 films are expected to be created through this year's international competitions. Screenings of the Austin-made films will be held on August 28-30, when the shorts will be scored by the audience and a special panel. The film that wins Austin's competition will then show at Filmapalooza, the annual awards put on by the 48 Hour Film Project, and could make its way to the screens at Cannes 2013.

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