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Some shorts that I loved from Portland Comedy Film Festival

Two weekends ago I attended the Portland Comedy Film Festival. I only saw shorts there, although there were a couple features that played before I arrived. Here are a few that I both enjoyed and are currently available online.

Cauliflower, directed by Natasha Straley


Groundhog Day for a Black Man
, directed by Cynthia Kao

Jihadi Street, directed by Yulia Fomenko

I still don’t know how I feel about this one but it’s so rare to see a comedy this risky and I really want to see what Yulia does next.

Christopher Nolan on starting out as a filmmaker

I really enjoyed this. Lots of good stuff in here on working with low budgets and getting the most out a little money, production-wise.

A few takeaways:

  • He started with black and white to eliminate a lot of variables and work faster.
  • He started with a scene where he could control the camera tightly, so that the first scene would be high quality and later shots in uncontrolled environments would register as a choice and not an accident.
  • He did the same for sound, getting high quality sound in the first scene so that people weren’t immediately alienated by the quality of the sound.
  • By the time people realized how cheap the film was, they were already into the story.
  • Working in film noir or a crime film gives you a lot of creative freedom because the audience knows you’re going to get back to that main story, enabling you to take quite a few leaps and experiment without compromising the comprehensibility of the film.

Another new teaser for The Deadline

Tangerine

My friend Jae wrote on Letterboxd:

It’s pitiful that this will be marketed as the “iPhone film” or the movie with the the transsexuals – because I believe it offers so much more than this – though both aspects are important for different reasons.

I had the same thought watching it, that people would know or remember it as “the iPhone movie,” which makes me a little sad because I thought it was brilliant filmmaking that didn’t have much to do with what camera they shot it on. I think the budget was around $100,000 and you could easily make a film for a third or less the cost but with a much better camera.

What I loved was the editing, the sense of movement, the music and how it worked with the images, the performances, the writing, and above all the rhythm that makes it feel so alive. That feeling of “aliveness” is hard to define and even harder to create. To me, it’s a combination of playfulness, good camera work, great editing, and not giving a fuck (in a good way).

New teaser for The Deadline

Playing around with my new Blackmagic cinema camera

I shot some test footage with my new camera, a Blackmagic cinema camera. Just playing around with stuff to see how it works and learn DaVinci Resolve. Despite my shaky handheld and focus issues (my issues, not the lens), I think it makes some really beautiful images.

New short

I made this in my spare time between projects. I’m in post-production for two more involved shorts and it’s tough being in the doldrums for months without shooting anything, so this was a fun little project.

Kiarostami interview

He passed away earlier this week.

Here’s an interview with some of this thoughts on filmmaking. I admire him and his work a great deal, but don’t agree with everything he says:

A reasonable request

(NSFW for language)

I laughed so so so hard. I saw this last night at a screening in Chicago that was curated by Jim Vendiola.

Tony Zhou on editing

Who needs film school when you have Every Frame is a Painting? This couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as I’m getting into the exciting but difficult part of editing The Deadline.

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