What’s Up?! J.J. Abrams, Don Cheadle at SXSW and Short Film News

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams (movies, short film, technology)

J.J. Abrams/Wikimedia Commons

What’s up good people?! It’s your weekly roundup of all the short film and movie news you desire. It has been a whirlwind week for itsashort.com after the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. It was an amazing Stretch of talks, meetups, screenings and networking opportunities.

One of the best SXSW discussions we attended featured Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams. All told, 2,000 people attended the discussion, which occurred directly after President Barack Obama’s keynote.

Abrams talked about the impact of technology on filmmaking, particularly as it relates to the making of The Force Awakens:

The idea was, in the case of Star Wars, to both create a sense of analog authenticity visually, and most importantly to make sure the humanity of the characters wasn’t getting lost wherever possible,” he said. “That was our ambition, it’s up to every viewer to decide whether that worked — but that was the idea, to try and make sure the movie felt as human and as emotional as possible.

Abrams, who participated in a discussion alongside writer and director Andrew Jarecki, also advised filmmakers to take this approach when incorporating technology into story:

The challenge with what we all do, using whatever technology is that we use, is to hide it, in a way,” Abrams said. “The machinery — whether it’s the technology of what a story is, the map of a story, whether it’s the technology you’re using to code something — you’re trying to make that invisible so that the audience or the user is having as effortless an experience as possible and they’re as engaged as possible.

Truth.

Don Cheadle Talks Miles Davis

 

Miles Davis (movies, short film)

Miles Davis/Wikimedia Commons

If you thought that was groovy, the SXSW panel discussion with Don Cheadle was absolutely phenomenal. The actor talked about the making of “Miles Ahead,” his biopic on jazz legend Miles Davis.

“I wanted it to be something that was innovative and crazy and kind of gangster,” Cheadle said of the movie.

“I was more interested in making a movie in the way that I think Miles Davis would approach that medium, and create a film that he would want to star in as opposed to making a Cliff Notes version of his life.”

Cheadle, who directed, co-wrote and starred in the film, went to great lengths to convince Davis’s family members that he was the right guy for the lead role, according to one relative.

“This guy Don Cheadle, he really cared what the family thought,” said Davis’s nephew Vince Wilburn Jr. “He really wanted our input, a lot of times you sign on the dotted line and that’s it, then the director changes their phone number.

“He took time on his break and had us come to his trailer. He really cared.”

“Miles Ahead” hits theaters April 1, and we at itsashort.com can’t wait to see it.

You can watch the rest of Cheadle’s conversation below:

Perfect Match

The Perfect Match (movies, short film)

The Perfect Match/film poster

We would be remiss if we did not mention the latest accomplishment by our friend Brandon Broussard. Brandon served as a co-writer for the film “The Perfect Match,” which stars Terrence Jenkins, Paula PattonLauren London and Brandy Norwood (yes, that Brandy). The film was directed by  Bille Woodruff and executive produced by Queen Latifah

It’s a fun, romantic comedy about a playboy who meets his match in the love department.

Check out the trailer for this cool, funny flick below:

Again, a huge mazel tov to Brandon for the release of the film, which is in theaters now. Go out and support.

Our Mission

Itsashort.com is a platform for filmmakers and creators the world over. We love the short film genre. Plus, we at itsashort.com want to introduce audiences to award-winning and award-nominated artists who create movies, web series and videos. Check out itsashort.com and register to see the wonderful work of these creatives here.

 

What’s Up?! Hangout with “Sour Milk” Filmmaker; Sundance Short Films

One of the best short films from this past year.

Poster for “Sour Milk”

What’s Up, good people?! Welcome to your weekly buzz report from ITSASHORT.COM. As you know, SUNDANCE is rolling and itsashort is flowing. And, We’re Talking short Films.

You need to flow with us this Thursday as we are planning to host another Google hangout, this time with award-winning filmmaker Elliot Gonzo and media mogul Brandon Broussard. These guys will answer all your questions about filmmaking, and Gonzo will discuss his critically-acclaimed short “Sour Milk.”

“Sour Milk” is a gritty and dark comedic delight, so much so that it earned Gonzo a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination and a Best Story award at last year’s London International Fimmaker Festival.

Here is the trailer, but you should subscribe at Itsashort.com where you can view it in its wondrous entirety.

The Google Hangout is scheduled Thursday at 8 p.m. You will be able to follow the live stream here.

Want more info about “Sour Milk?” Visit this link.

 

‘Sundancing’ In Park City

Among the 72 Sundance short films is "Bob Dylan Hates Me."

Bob Dylan performing at the Feyenoord Football Club Stadium, Rotterdam, June 23, 1978 (Wikimedia Commons)

Did we mention that itsashort is at Sundance? Of course we did. Our fearless team has been making the rounds in Park City. They created connections and participated in important discussions about filmmaking, technology and distribution. One of the panels, entitled “A New Deal?“, focused on the relationship between film and distribution.

Here’s a clip of Ted Hope, head of distribution for Amazon, who took part in the “New Deal” panel.

The Sundance short films program is robust, 72 entries in all and, as expected, they run the gamut. One is a six-minute, animated dandy called “Bob Dylan Hates Me,” which features the rock legend himself. Ever wonder what it’s like to meet your idol in real life? This film explores that question.

The documentary short, “Bacon & God’s Wrath” is about a 90-year-old Jewish woman who prepares to try bacon for the first time. Here’s the trailer from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival:

What would Sundance be without documentary shorts? This year’s entries tackle hot-button issues. There’s “Verbatim: The Ferguson Case,” about the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Many outlets are highlighting the work as a must see among the Sundance short films.

Then, there are those oddball entries that are simply compelling, like “The Chickening,” which is a rework of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, only it features – um – poultry. According to The Wrap, the animated short had Midnight audiences “clucking at the Toronto International Film Festival this fall.”

Sounds delightful.

Sundance ends January 31. There is a plethora of festival programs you can stream live. Check out live events at this link and get all your up-to-the-minute festival updates on Twitter. And while you’re at it, follow itsashort.com on Twitter for news about short films we’re excited about and events in Park City and beyond.

Until then, be well. We’ll be back next week with the full Sundance “4-1-1.”

 

Our Mission

We love short films. Plus, we at itsashort.com want to introduce audiences to award-winning and award-nominated artists who create movies, web series and videos. Check out itsashort.com and register to see the wonderful work of these creatives here.

What’s Up?! Sundance, “FirstGlance” Short Film Winner

What’s up, ya’ll? Welcome to a new week, and here’s the good word.

Itsashort is hosting a live Google hangout with the winner of the prestigious FirstGlance Fall 2015 Short Online Contest!

That’s right, this Thursday you will get the opportunity to chat with Brian Mellen, director of the gripping short film “Spark and Fade,” which you can check out below:

Rock star media mogul Brandon Broussard will moderate the discussion. You can pose questions on the live stream or participate on Twitter. Just use the hashtag #sparkandfade to chat with two of film and television’s rising stars.

The Google hangout is on Jan. 14 at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT.

 

Submit to Sundance Next Year

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival opens in less than two weeks, and itsashort.com can’t wait to be there.

You know the saying about the early bird getting the worm, well the early filmmaker who submits in a timely fashion, will get his work seen and heard (Okay that didn’t sound as cool when I read that out loud).

Nevertheless, it is never too early to consider submitting for Sundance 2017. Interested? Well, Sundance wants you to check back here during the first week of May.

But you just can’t submit your piece “willy-nilly,” without a bit of inside info.

Thanks to this wonderful article with Sundance Film Festival programmer Mike Plante, here are the most important pieces of advice regarding the submission process.

On short film submissions: “8,700 this year, which is the third year in a row we have received over 8,000.”

According to Plante, a 10-person committee screens the films. They are tasked with selecting around 70 shorts out of that batch that will make it to Sundance. That’s an arduous task, folks. Why? Plante said there are usually 300 shorts that the committee really loves. That means they have to break the hearts of 230 submitters before getting to the winners.

The trend from this year’s submissions:

Filmmakers are getting better at telling stories and creating characters in a shorter amount of time. It feels like they are trusting the audience more and more. You don’t need to imitate a feature, in fact that hurts a short film. Less is more. We have hilarious comedies that are less than 7 minutes long, and powerful documentaries with huge stories in just 15 minutes of run time.

And finally, advice for those who want to submit next year. Here is how you can impress a Sundance film programmer:

Did I say less is more yet? Audiences are so savvy at festivals that you can trust them. You don’t have to tell them what to think with more dialogue and “action” for lack of a better word. They watch shorts all the time—TV shows, commercials, music videos, and now actual short films online.  

“World of Tomorrow,” the 2015 winner of the Short Film Grand Jury Prize, is one work that captured the hearts of judges last year. Here is the trailer for that mesmerizing short:

Awesome, right? Now it’s your turn.

 

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

See The Golden Globes Tonight

We would be remiss if we did not mention the arrival of awards season with tonight’s airing of the 73rd annual Golden Globes. Sorry to disappoint you, but if you’re watching, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler won’t be your co-hosts this year. Instead, British comedian Ricky Gervais will serve as your master of ceremonies.

Expect some edgy and irreverent humor.

 

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Denzel Will Be in The Building

Ladies (and some gentlemen) don’t swoon. That’s right, Denzel Washington will be one of the main stars of the evening. He is receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award, bestowed to those who have made “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” Mr. Washington certainly fits that bill.

Oscar Film Buzz

As far as the big films are concerned, the Globes have long served as the bellwether to the Oscars. The strongest Oscar “Best Picture” contenders from the Globes’ Best Motion Picture, Drama category are “Spotlight” and “The Revenant,” supposedly. In the “Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy” category, Globe nominees “The Big Short” and “The Martian” are seen as the prime contenders as well. Nevertheless, the race is said to be wide open. “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Compton” have their supporters as well.

The 88th Academy Awards will air February 28 at 7pm ET. Until then, we’ll enjoy the awesome three-hour spectacle that is the Golden Globes, and more importantly, we’ll see who gives the most inebriated acceptance speech. Itsashort.com will be watching and it should be fun, fun, fun!