Playlist 18 - Short films
Short on length, though far from short in quality
The internet has gifted us with the attention spans of goldfish. But that’s no bad thing when the best short films can stimulate more thoroughly than a dozen features, as well as providing the perfect calling card for up and coming directors. Witness Neill Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg (tinyurl.com/z6bma), which paved the way for his acclaimed sci-fi feature for Peter Jackson, District 9, which has already taken some £100 million worldwide.
But it’s not necessarily Hollywood or bust. There’s plenty of other talented film-makers hoping to follow the kind of meteoric career path that Blomkamp has enjoyed, albeit with very different perspectives to offer. Glasgow-based director Vincent Hunter’s As Far As You’ve Come is a bruising tale of one man’s chance meeting with an old friend, played by the superb David McKay. Tightly shot and performed, Hunter’s film offers a sharply observed tale that offers a grim riposte to conventional sentimentality (tinyurl.com/kvvajw)
Alternatively, lighten up with Lesley Barnes’ Herzog and the Monsters (tinyurl.com/lgs5ub) which makes creative use of type and depth-perspective to create an engaging fairy-tale atmosphere; all the pop-up style and ingenuity of Tim Burton or Wes Anderson, but on a fraction of the budget. And if you’re looking for a tougher proposition, Ma Bar, Adrian McDowall and Finlay Pretsell’s documentary about Bill McFadyen, Scotland’s 73 year old bench-press champion, offers a thoughtful picture of one particular strain of Scottish machismo. (tinyurl.com/m2w56c). It’s one of a number of imaginatively realised films to come from the Scottish Documentary Institute, and ther’s more on the SDI website (www.docscene.org/), including Jane McAllister’s trenchant view of Sporran Makers. (tinyurl.com/m7rlyy).
Peter Jackson may not yet to on the phone to any of the above, as yet, but every good short is a little miracle, born despite the constraints of money and time. For aspiring film-makers to get their shorts on-line places them firmly on the casting couch of cinema; now all they need is a bit of backing, plus a bit of luck, and a new wave of Scottish film-makers could copping a feel of the big time.