Our Blog

Thanks Smokey (2013)

June 17, 2018 0 comedy, music

A quirky little short that has been doing the rounds for a while but only recently came to the attention of the SFW team. Without giving anything away, this short shows us the world through the eyes of someone with – to put it euphemistically – a niche interest. The music is insanely catchy, and we just love the costumes. Enjoy!

The Big Picture (2018)

May 29, 2018 0 animation

The shortest short on Shortfilmweb, The Big Picture is a charming and accomplished animated short directed by animation and film student Doriana Re. It is about a man who is persuaded by his wife to step away from studying bacteria through his microscope, and instead focus his attentions on the heavens above (also through a lens!)

Garbage Man (2017)

June 24, 2017 0 comedy, drama

Sam, a refuse collector, decides in an apparent existential crisis that his job is beneath him.  After being cursed by a raccoon, he finds himself rendered, quite literally, a garbage man. A brilliantly scripted and acted comic short, perhaps also a cautionary tale about complaining.

In the words of the director himself “I’d rather let the audience make up their own minds as to what a story is about. But… depression. It’s about depression. Probably. I don’t know. Maybe it’s about raccoons. They’re kind of dicks. I just know that, however silly this movie might seem, it’s very close to my heart. I grew up idolizing the garbage man. I wanted to ride the back of the truck, and heave around smelly things, and be adored by kids like myself. So far my life’s gone in a different direction, but I wanted to pay tribute in a small way to the people that keep our lives running and don’t get nearly enough credit. Many people, myself often included, feel trapped by the circumstances of their lives. The impulse behind telling this weird little story is to see what happens when you take the accumulated mental garbage that threatens to bury us all, and make it literal. ”

Directed by Alan Miller
Written by David Haskell and Alan Miller

Starring Kalvin Olafson, Daniel Jacobsen and Luke Roessler

5 mètres 80 (2013)

August 31, 2016 0 animation

5 mètres 80 is the creation of French animator Nicolas Deveux. Known for his skill in creating realistic and lifelike animations of animals, Deveux took a year and a half to create this mesmerising short featuring high-diving giraffes. Their graceful movements are soothing to watch, and the hyper-realistic rendering is impressive. Unsurprisngly, it won numerous film awards.

Find out more about Nicolas Deveux at http://www.nicolas-deveaux.com/.

Steam (1992)

April 3, 2016 0 music

The music video for Peter Gabriel’s hit single Steam (1992) was made by Stephen R. Johnson, a director of immense creativity. Peter Gabriel was known for his innovative, experimental music videos, probably the most famous being Sledgehammer (1986) also directed by Johnson, which scooped nine MTV Video Music Awards, which stands as a record today.

6 years on, computer technology had developed and whereas Sledgehammer used claymation and stop-motion techniques (with Peter Gabriel lying under a pane of glass for 16 hours as the video was shot one frame at a time) Steam uses the nascent but cutting-edge CGI effects of the time. In parts of the video we see exactly the same sort of ‘virtual reality’ effect used in the film Lawnmower Man, which came out the same year.

In Gabriel’s words “the song is about a relationship in which the woman is sophisticated, bright, cultured, and knows everything about anything and that the man knows nothing about anything, except, he does know about the woman, and she doesn’t know much about herself”.

Steam didn’t do quite as well as Sledgehammer, but it scooped a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1994, as well as two MTV Video Music Awards in 1993, for Best Special Effects in a Video and Best Editing in a Video.

Of course the video would be nothing without the music behind it – Peter Gabriel was a gifted musical innovator. The effects might be dated by today’s standards but that doesn’t detract one bit from the experience. The accompanying track, Steam, is a brilliantly funky backdrop to this surreal, colourful, humorous and very  enjoyable visual treat.

Time Bleeds (2013)

July 29, 2015 0 documentary, drama

Written and directed by Samuel Supple

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 saw millions of young British men (over 8 million in total) fight what proved to be a very bloody war. The troops left the UK via the coastal town of Folkestone in Kent. This documentary, made a century later, explores some of the themes of WWI with a group of young people taking part in reconstructions and method acting workshops.

Scenes recreated include the execution of a solider by firing squad for desertion and a tearful mother saying a final goodbye to her son at a train station as an officer reassures her. The method workshops recreate the ‘white feather’ shaming whereby young women pinned white feathers onto men who were not enlisted to fight, labeling them as cowards.

Time Bleeds is all the more poignant when we reflect that several of the actors in the workshops and dramatic reconstructions are no younger than millions of young men who died barely into adulthood. With some fitting quotes from war poet Wilfred Owen, Time Bleeds is an imaginative piece of film-making that brings the past alive. Looking back today, it serves to remind us not only of some of the prevailing attitudes of the time, but of the enormous sacrifice made by a generation, the huge loss of life, and the pain suffered by their loved ones.

Madame Tutli-Putli (2007)

March 19, 2015 0 animation, drama

Created by  &  (Clyde Henry Productions).

Madame Tutli-Putli is a 17-minute stop-motion animated short film about a woman taking a train journey. We don’t know where she’s going or why, but she has a fantastical and often terrifying ride, encountering all types of outlandish and menacing characters along the way. The film has a truly hallucinatory quality. We don’t know whether to take Madame Tutli-Putli’s experiences as real or a product of her feverish mind, perhaps her darkest nightmares. Even the train seems to be from another world, a steampunk mass of hurtling metal with a propeller on the front. Surreal and dark visions punctuate the whole journey – chess-playing stowaways, mud-covered monsters intent on robbing everyone, people hanging limply from the electrical cables overhead.

This film took four years to make, showing what dedication, hard work and patience can achieve. The film uses ground-breaking techniques to add realism to the characters. Madame Tutli-Putli’s eyes look so expressive and human because they are – footage of human eyes was merged onto the stop-motion puppet and the effect is astounding. This film is an incredible experience, a hugely immersive visual treat, and a magnificent accomplishment.

Metachaos (2011)

January 2, 2015 0 animation, music

Created by Alessandro Bavari
Music by Jeff Ensign aka Evolution Noise Slave

Metachaos, by ‘Digital Artist’ Alessandro Bavari, is more like 8 minutes of visual and sonic art than a short film. Intense, overwhelming and immersive, it uses state of the art camerawork and CGI special effect technology to create what could be seen as a visualisation of judgement day itself. A series of amorphous figures, vaguely human in appearance, descend from the sky and take over a blocky fortress. This ‘building’, the scene for the rest of the film, looks similar at times to the steel and concrete frame seen when a modern building is midway through construction.

Exactly what is going on is open to interpretation – but throughout the morphing figures appear to be variously fighting, having sex, multiplying – as particles and matter rain down and swarm around them. The ambient, atmospheric soundtrack soon turns into furious, industrial intense, bassy beat, musically redolent of the Prodigy, visually of an Aphex Twin video.

Citing the apocalyptic visions of Bosch and Bruegel as inspiration, Bavari describes the beings in Metachaos thus:

“They exist confined in a spaceless and timeless state, an hostile and decadent hyperuranium where a fortress, in perpetual movement, dominates the landscape in defense of a supercelestial, harmonic but fragile parallel dimension. In its destructive instinct of violating the dimensional limbo, the mutant horde penetrates the intimacy of the fortress, laying siege like a virus.”

Whether you find Metachaos an exhilarating futuristic ride, a monochrome, multi-dimensional nightmare, or both, the impact can’t be denied. This should be ideally be experienced on a big screen, using headphones or quality speakers for full effect. More info on the maker’s website here.

Cashback (2004)

September 19, 2014 0 comedy

Directed by Sean Ellis
Produced by Lene Bausager
Music by Rick Astley

Cashback is a comic short film following narrator Ben, a young art student working long night shifts in a supermarket, and his madcap group of colleagues, including two young men who take larking around to an extreme, and Jenkins, Ben’s thoroughly dislikeable, narcissistic boss, played to a tee by Stuart Goodwin. Despite his mundane work Ben, played by Sean Biggerstaff, has a big imagination. As boredom kicks in, he finds innovative ways to cope with the excruciatingly slow passing of time. Indeed the film soon takes an unexpected turn and goes deep, exploring concepts like time and beauty on a metaphysical level, with some  impressive special effects and camera techniques.

Emilia Fox plays Sharon, the bored-to-tears cashier who finds herself the unwilling target of Jenkins’s attentions. In Ben’s fantasy world in which time can be stopped and space (and indeed the customers) can be explored as if frozen still, Jenkins gets his comeuppance and Ben gets to satisfy a craving which has plagued him for a long time.

Although it got mixed reviews, Cashback was a big success at short film festivals, and was subsequently made into a full-length feature. The short won Best European Short Film Festival (Grand Prix) and the Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Short amongst many others. 80s music enthusiasts will no doubt be delighted to know that the soundtrack for this film was composed by Rick Astley.

This Land is Mine (2014)

August 4, 2014 0 animation, music

This Land is Mine is a remarkable animation set to a song in the style of a musical by artist Nina Paley. Beginning with the very first settlers in the land over time variously named Canaan, The Levant, Israel and Palestine, we see a succession of warriors and colonialists laying claim to what has proved to be one of history’s most disputed and conflict-ridden territories on the planet. From early cavemen to Assyrians to Macedonians, Ottoman Turks and many more, right up to the Hamas insurgents and Jewish Israeli settlers currently battling each other, this bloody cartoon is like a (admittedly simplified) compacted history of the region’s conflicts.

With numerous territorial wars currently causing death and misery across the globe, this film couldn’t be more relevant. A depressing look at humanity, or human history, perhaps. But if those leading and perpetuating today’s conflicts could step back and take an overview like this (noting in particular the film’s sober conclusion)  they might realise that no amount of time, or coming and going of empires will ever quell the human urge to subjugate and kill for territory. Justified by claims of entitlement and ownership, the cycles of violence go on and in the long run, nothing really changes.

The Exodus Song (AKA This Land is Mine) by Andy Williams provides a fitting backing track. For more information about Nina Paley, the creator, along with a guide to the different peoples represented in the film, check out her blog. But don’t read it before seeing the film, or you’ll spoil the twist!