Coming up short

Low-budget shorts are easy to make fun of. They’re alsoincredibly hard to produce. With no budget and no producer, it’shard to make something an audience accustomed to million-dollaraction pictures will enjoy. Anyone watching low-budget shortsshould keep this in mind. So it’s with some reservation that Iwrite that of the nine shorts I screened, I could only watch onethe whole way through. That short is Mark Gustafson’s “Joe Blow”produced by the Will Vinton Studios. It’s a claymation cartoonabout a loser guy who orders a blow-up doll in the mail. The payoffat the end is lame, but it looked good and kept me interested.

The rest of the movies are plagued with pretension or just plainlazy. The filmmakers desperately need to see more movies tounderstand what makes a good script and how to temperself-indulgence. “The Cycle,” “Bees,” “Grounded,” and “Four DaysOne Year,” and “Marie Tyrell” are all hopelessly pretentious.Excluding “Bees” and “Grounded,” all are well lit and well framed.This makes the fact that their scripts are so bad so sad. No movieshould be made before everyone involved has decided the script isas good as it can be.

The lazy efforts, such as “Bees,” “Grounded” and “Hope andPrey,” mostly consist of lengthy shots of their subjects and haveneither narratives nor beats. “Bees,” for example, consists of beesflying up and down within the same shot for an entire minute. Thefact that someone feels they can pass that off for a movie justreveals the poverty of the independent film scene. It’s not elitistto expect that filmmakers write scripts and edit their movies. Youcan’t hide crap under the shell of experimental.

Having said all this, don’t give up on short films. Almost everysuccessful director directed a short film at the start of his orher career. Quality shorts are out there.

Keep the faith.