Shorts that don't suck, vol. I


Take it from me -- I've made lots of 'em, been to lots of short film festivals and waded through a seemingly endless number of cringe-inducing shorts as a screener for the LA Film Festival -- and unfortunately, most shorts kinda suck. I'd say the ratio of suckage to good stuff is much worse in the shorts arena than in features, partly because it just takes so much more momentum, time and moolah to make a feature -- and when you're about to plunk down your credit card for $50,000 worth of gear, it tends to bring a script's problem areas sharply into focus -- and partly because shorts aren't like features; they are as short stories are to novels. A different form entirely, which tends to run most effectively on a single idea, rather than a whole cast of characters getting in and out of trouble.

Amazingly, and despite the punishing digital compression which all YouTube videos are subjected to, some great shorts end up on the internet. As part of my ongoing and unofficial effort to fill in for the YouTube Hunter while he's on extended shore leave, and because so many good shorts get lost in the overwhelming tide of bad ones and are just never seen, I'm bringing some of my favorites to mental_floss. Let the viewing begin!

Over Time
Strange, elegiac and unexpectedly tear-jerking, Over Time is a gorgeously-rendered animated short about an army of sad, silent Kermits mourning the passing of their creator -- never named, but obviously Jim Henson.

The Delicious
Here's a short which trades on a single, wacky idea: a man becomes obsessed with dressing up in a red women's leisure suit and making funny noises in front of his mirror -- and it's destroying his marriage. (This is part I. If you like it, you can find part II here.)

Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?
I found this in the DVD magazine Wholphin, which is like Dave Eggers' word magazine McSweeneys, but for short films. It's a simple tale written by Miranda July (Me, You and Everyone We Know), directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) and starring John C. Reilly, Mike White and some other folks. A simple question elicits surprising answers.

A very early film school effort directed by my buddy Shyam Balse, and shot by me. There's no dialogue, it's in black and white and we shot with a 16mm film camera designed to be dropped out of planes in WWII; all mandated restrictions at the time. It's done pretty well at festivals, and for the most part, despite being five minutes of on-purpose dreamy weirdness, I think it still stands up.