Thursday, January 31, 2008


January 31st, 2008

Rob Meyer, who’s short film won the HollyShorts Best Narrative Award in 2007 picked up an Honorable Mention in Short Filmmaking for his short film “Aquarium” at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The awards were announced at the Festival’s closing Awards Ceremony hosted by William H. Macy in Park City, Utah.

The 2008 Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was awarded to two films: MY OLYMPIC SUMMER, directed by Daniel Robin, and SIKUMI (On the Ice), directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. The jury also presented the International Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking to SOFT, directed by Simon Ellis. Aside from Meyer’s short, Honorable Mentions in Short Filmmaking were also presented to: August 15th, directed by Xuan Jiang; La Corona (The Crown), directed by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega; Oiran Lyrics, directed by Ryosuke Ogawa; Spider, directed by Nash Edgerton; Suspension, directed by Nicolas Provost, and W. , directed by The Vikings. The 2008 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Awards were presented by Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Here’s a feature interview with Rob Meyer from The at Sundance:

Sundance Features
January 25, 2008
Rob Meyer, Aquarium
“I sort of started from scratch in terms of learning how to write a screenplay or cast. I learned by doing.”

THE REELER: I saw Aquarium last year at Woodstock, but I’d like you to take a second to describe it for readers in your own words

ROB MEYER: It’s based largely on my life — with a few important exceptions — as a nerdy, kind of off-beat teenager growing up in the Boston suburbs. I used to be a member of the Boston Aquarium Society and would enjoy going to the fish meetings and enjoy talking about breeding fish and going on fish collecting trips; I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was in high school. I always thought it would be a great world and ripe for film in terms of the visual and elemental metaphors of water and aquatic exploration. So the kernel of the film started with the idea of aquarium fish breeding, and also there’s sort of inherent comedy in that world. The rest of the story came as I developed it as a graduate student at NYU, and it dealt with more serious themes I’m always interested in exploring: coming to realize our own mortality, losing pets and kind of a coming-of-age film that deals with serious issues. But hopefully it’s also light-hearted and heartwarming as well.

R: What was some of your filmmaking background at NYU and beyond before making Aquarium?

RM: This is the fourth short film I’ve made, and they were basically all done within the context of NYU’s graduate film program. This is by far the most ambitious short I’d done. Prior to NYU I worked in documentary film; I produced films for WGBH in Boston — for Nova — so I have a lot of experience putting together shoots and working with crews, traveling the world with these documentary films. But I always wanted to do more of the writing and directing and working with actors, which is why I went to NYU. I really arrived there with very little experience; I sort of started from scratch in terms of learning how to write a screenplay or cast. I learned by doing.

R: You’ve mentioned you want to expand Aquarium as a feature, or at least direct something inspired by it.

RM: I’ve written a feature called Labrador Duck with a classmate of mine named Luke Metheny. It’s not an expansion of Aquarium, but it’s the same characters, the same tone — a lot of the same themes, but it’s a bigger story. It’s a road-trip movie, kind of like Stand By Me in terms of it being a quest that these kids go on. So I thought there was more to explore with these characters and the comedy of these subcultures I enjoy. In this case it’s bird watching instead of aquarium fish breeding: It’s about these teen birdwatchers who think they’ve discovered an extinct duck and go on a road trip to find it and prove to the world it exists. It’s the Labrador duck — the first bird to go extinct in North America. These things occasionally do happen, and I’m interested in science and discovery and the little guy making a big discovery.

R: Are Sundance and Labrador Duck the end of Aquarium’s festival run?

RM: It is the tail end of the festival circuit for me. The plan is to keep showing it to industry people who may not make it to festivals and might not see it there — people who could fund the feature or hire me to write or direct something get a chance to see it.

R: What kind of apprehensions or expectations do have for Aquarium at Sundance?

RM: I’m really curious to see how it plays. The film is a strange mix of melancholy and humor; it depends on the crowd. I’ve been at screenings where I wasn’t sure if people were getting the sense of humor and wanted to sneak out the back; I’ve been to other screenings where people responded to stuff much more strongly and positively than I expected them to. Hopefully the latter will be the case. I have a bunch of friends coming, so at least I know I’ll have a few fans in the audience

Monday, January 28, 2008

Leah Meyerhoff Update

"Since playing HollyShorts 2007, TWITCH has gone on to screen at over 200 film festivals worldwide, garnering a Student Academy Award nomination, a Slamdance Grand Jury prize, and over a dozen other international awards. TWITCH was picked up for televised distribution by IFC, Reelport and Skandinavia TV. TWITCH is also being distributed online by B-Side, Dovetail and OurStage. Propelled by the success of her short, director Leah Meyerhoff was able to raise over half the budget for her first feature UNICORNS which is set to go into production late this spring. For more information, please visit"

Leah OurStage Interview at HollyShorts

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

3 More Festivals and Distribution for "Honey, I'm Home"

The year has started off on a great note for David Branin's "Honey, I'm Home." Last year's HollyShorts Audience Award Winner has been accepted into three more festivals. Making it 14 Official Selections for a film that was made for less than $100. Recent selections include Bursa International Silk Road Film Festival, the Rome Independent Film Festival and the Lake County Film Festival. It also screened at the Festivus Film Festival on January 12th, 2008.

If you can't make it to one of the upcoming screenings, you can now find the film available for purchase through the independent distribution site, Since being posted there on December 12th, 2007, "Honey, I'm Home" has amassed more than 9000 hits. Cruxy specializes in secure and easy purchases through paypal, google checkout, or your credit card. Here is the direct link if you would like to purchase and download "Honey, I'm Home" today.
"Honey, I'm Home" tackles the topic of being unfaithful and having to confess the truth to one's companion. Never before has infidelity been explored in the way Branin does in this five minute tale. "Honey I'm Home" is written & directed by David Branin (Shoot-Out, Untitled David Branin Feature Film Project) while being shot and edited by Vincent Martinez (Comic Noir, Harlem Sunset, Too Late For Tears). It stars Jacob Magnuson and Karen Worden with original music done by composer Rudy Mangual.

HollyShorts ‘07 Filmmakers Get Tribute At Psarokokalo Festival in Greece

Select members from the 2007 HollyShorts Film Festival have been chosen to have their short films screened during a special HollyShorts tribute at the upcoming 2nd Annual Psarokokalo International Short Film Festival in Athens which runs February 1-10 at the Nixon screening Hall in Greece.

The selected short films include:

Director: Rob Meyer
fiction / 17 min

Der Ostwind
Director: Kohl Glass
fiction / 10 min

Joseph Henry
Director: Phil Allocco
fiction / 12 min

Sam and Piccolo
Director: Adam Walker
animation / 15 min

Director: John Thompson
fiction / 6 min

Director: Jason Roberts
fiction / 13 min

The festival aims at presenting to the public new productions of audiovisual work that seek new approaches on matters of picture, rhythm and narration by using new and older technologies.

The program includes screenings from Greek and international filmmakers, tributes to Rumanian cinema,the cinema of the Basque Country, short films from the famous Swedish director, Roy Andersson, special projections from the Salford film festival and the Hollyshorts film festival, as well as audiovisual performances, a major art exhibition, parties and lots of networking. For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Short End Magazine gives 2007 HollyShorts great review!

The short film is a medium tangential to the customary clockwork of the film industry. For decades now, the format in which it was born has been relegated to students, experimental artists and grunt-level industryites out to prove they can direct. The entries I’ve seen at short film fests usually break down into two opposite groups: a handful of bold, narrative science-fair projects versus a broad swath of films that look, sound and feel exactly like anything you’d pay twelve dollars to see at the Arclight and bitch about on the drive home. Except shorter.

As every media company in the world figures out how to make money with Internet video though, the short film is suddenly back as belle of the ball. Online distributors are hungry for content, but by all indications have no faith in the audience’s ability to watch anything on a computer that’s longer than seven minutes—or that is remotely dramatic. It’s sort of a gold rush back to the industry’s roots; not since the first experiments in film a hundred years ago has short content garnered so much attention or appeared so lucrative. This also makes short film festivals ground zero for discussion and dissection of the format as an art and a re-envisioned business.

A lot of us who write for SM are filmmakers ourselves, something I note here as it’s the perspective from which I speak. I arrived at the opening night event for the third annual HollyShorts Film Festival a little late. I own one suit, and it lives in my car with most of my other laundry. Digging for the tie while negotiating Southbound 101 traffic was problematic but eventually effective. Thirty seconds in line outside Nacional on Wilcox was all it took to remind me why I hate Hollywood and why just about everything that has to do with moviemaking actually takes place as far away from that seethy boulevard as possible. I preferred to make conversation with a homeless man who offered to be my assistant in exchange for liquor rather than the kid in line behind me who insisted his film was too avant garde to be accepted at this festival. Fortunately, the line moved swiftly.

Once inside, and through to the end of the festival, the whole event was executed flawlessly much to the credit of its ever-present, friendly and knowledgeable organizers. The program also achieved an impressive balance of running times, genres, tones, narrative styles, budgets and production values--though none low enough to jeopardize the HollyShorts stamp of quality that seemed to pronounce itself as the screenings progressed.

The weekend-long festival opened with Euthanasia directed by Entourage’s Adrian Grenier. It was kind of a mediocre crowd-pleaser about two high school girls who accidentally run over their cat. He’s a celebrity…guess you gotta have one of those at your opening night. It was all in focus.

Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions were populated with gems. Julien West’s Small Jeans has many groan-inspiring short film staples: a predilection to voiceover, montage, non-linear structure and the abrupt onset of fatal disease. But West’s is the perfect example of a film that gets all these right--absolutely nails them. Main character Zoe’s dry but vaguely whimsical philosophical musings narrate her quest to offload a pair of bought-but-never-worn, too-small jeans on friends, co-workers and a neighborhood heroine whore. The film has an expertly-honed marriage of humor and drama, better-than-Hollywood cinematography, production design, performance and a running time that leaves you wanting more.

Joel Davenport’s The Drill, a ground-level portrait of duck-n-cover kids in the 1950s, achieves praise-worthy performances from its elementary school cast. The film becomes an understated but taught exercise in tension when the air-raid drill runs long, and the students begin to suspect it's the real thing. Other well-received entries included Timothy Cahill’s The Oates’ Valor (HollyShorts Best Drama Winner), Tony West’s Dartsville (Best Cinematography) and John Thompson’s Songbird (Best Short Film).

The festival was also host to a slew of animated entries. Michael Attardi’s Once Upon a Christmas Village features the voices of Jim Belushi and Tim Curry as well as several sequences animated via motion capture technology. Michelle Meeker’s When I Grow Up is a beautiful collage of short animations by different artists from all over the world. Each was given an audio excerpt from an interview with a child and complete freedom to form their own moving images. The show-stealer, however, was Adam Walker’s Sam and Piccolo. I can only describe it as a Pixar film directed by Hayo Miazaki. It had a grasp of animation that only the Japanese have these days--that they can be dark, not in a cackling-wicked-witch sort of way, but in a questioning-your-own-capacity-for-greed kind of way. It starts out whimsical but ends biblical.

There were also parties, food and alcohol, and though these are all superfluous to the art, organizers were thoughtful and savvy in their selection of location and menu. The screenings and panels ran at Cinespace on Hollywood - a bar/club/restaurant with a main screening room and video feeds snaking into every other corner of the establishment. The main room was mostly booths and tables on successively elevated flooring stretching away from the screen. It was a great setup, as servers could hit their tables and not really distract from the films. As previously mentioned, Nacional hosted the opening night, with the closing event unfolding at Vice, and DJed by hip-hop legend Biz Markie. It occurred to me at some point that I should have somehow smuggled out some of the discounted alcohol my media badge afforded me to enlist my homeless assistant but ultimately decided that digging for a tie myself is the cost of not enabling destructive behavior. I’m sure I’ll see him next year, as Hollyshorts is a festival I hope to return to.