One of the our great pleasures is introducing someone new to the FFF. Our good friends, Steve and Holly, have lived in Central Florida since they were children. They’ve occasionally seen movies at the Enzian. But before tonight, they’ve never attended the FFF.
Mrs. LanceAround and I invited them to join us for the animated shorts. Frankly, we’re a little nervous. Sometimes the animated shorts can be a little raunchy. They can also be eclectic and esoteric. What would our friends think?
This year there are 17 animated shorts, the longest being 10 minutes and the shortest only 2 minutes. At least if there are a couple bad ones, they won’t last long. As usual for this popular program, the Enzian theatre is packed. Here’s a rundown of each short and The conversation Steve, Holly, Mrs. LanceAround and I had on the drive home from the Enzian:
All Your Favorite Shows!
A fascinating amalgamation of animation and live action intermingling emotional scenes from famous movies with the story of a young boy who can’t keep his eyes off his cell phone or his mind from wandering to places that images on the cell phone take him.
LA: I loved the creativity
Holly: I did too. I thought it was really good. I loved it. I loved how they cut in so many different film clips.
Steve: [Nods head in agreement with us]
What happens when you worry too much. This film explores possible images and emotions that go through a person’s mind when their deepest anxieties creates a slippery hold on their reality.
LA: I liked her a lot more than I liked her film.
Holly: Me too! You know, it could be since I’ve had panic attacks and I don’t find them funny. I find that mental illness is such a hard topic in our country. And not that you can’t be light hearted about it, but I think it’s not recognized enough to make jokes about it; in my mind. But that’s just me, because I’ve had panic attacks.
Mrs. LA: Oh, I have too. When I was 25 I was also having panic attacks. I thought there was something wrong with my heart. They took me to the hospital. They checked me out. They discovered it wasn’t physiological, it was psychological.
Holly: That one was hard for me to watch; only because of that. The visuals were kind of real to what you go through in that. But it was funny. If you’ve never had a panic attack, it would have been easier to watch.
After seeing this film, Holly commented, “What movie has ever gotten you rooting for toilet paper before?” A stop motion animation five years in the making, this clever film follows a brand new roll of toilet paper in a less than sanitary gas station rest room. Is escape possible?
Holly: What about T.P.?
LA: It took five years to film that.
Holly: Really? Did it say that?
LA: No, I just did some research before we came. It was stop motion…
Steve: …Which is really time consuming! It was really difficult…it came on right when we were served our food; so it was difficult to watch. I was impressed by it. I knew what it was…stop motion…very challenging to do.
Holly: I actually felt sorry for the toilet paper. A little short film that made me feel sorry for the toilet paper is definitely a good film. I felt real bad for it.
Tales of Mere Existence
FFF favorite, Levni Yilmaz returns with more simplistically drawn tales exploring such diverse topics as: What do pigeons think about their lives? What keeps me awake at night (besides my rude neighbors?) and what do you do when you accidentally run into your ex in the supermarket?
In this sophisticated CGI short, an old west sheriff returns to the scene of a life-changing accident that he has spent a lifetime trying to forget.
Holly: You didn’t like this one, but it was the best shot. It made you cry?
Mrs. LA: Yes.
LA: I thought that of all the animators, this is the most talented.
Steve: Talented, yea!
Holly: It looked more like an animator from Pixar.
Most of the time, mice are seen as dirty rodents, best to be gotten rid of! This cute short attempts to turn the table on that perception.
Holly: I thought it was really cute. I thought it was sweet.
LA: My thought was that the filmmaker really identifies with the mouse. You know, this thing that everyone hates but is underappreciated and does all the hard work.
Holly: I could see it as a short they show before a kid’s movie.
Welcome to My Life
Steve, Holly, Mrs. LanceAround and I agree that this is the best animated short of the night. It’s an allegorical story of a day in the life of an atypical teenager. By having the protagonist be a monster, this creative short offers a fresh perspective as it explores issues of acceptance, relationships and coming of age in a non-threatening way that is sure to touch the hearts of anyone who is, or has been, a teenager!
Holly: That was really good.
Steve: It was really well done.
Holly: You wish they would show that in high school.
Steve: Yea. I liked the monotone voices too.
Holly: My favorite line was, “He goes to my church.”
LA: Exactly. That was my favorite line too.
The Loneliest Stoplight
Two time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton takes a look at a lonely stoplight in the middle of an intersection somewhere in the middle of nowhere. With characteristic Plympton finesse, this stoplight becomes a metaphor for the loneliness we all feel. When a congested freeway appears nearby, sharp eyed Holly recognizes the shape of the highway as similar to a shape Bill has drawn on the wall of the Eden bar in a nature scene!
Holly: I liked it.
Steve: It was pretty simple.
LA: The entire movie I’m thinking, “Why does he want to make a film about this?”
Steve: There was not much there.
The world is full of flaws. This beautifully rendered charcoal drawings present an allegory of life in the service industry. It utilizes an animation technique in which all frames are drawn on a single sheet of paper.
LA: That was fascinating
Steve: I didn’t like it.
Holly: Neither did I. What did you like about it?
LA: To me, it was the allegory. It started off with “life is full of laws.” Then they put an “F” in it to say, “Life is full of flaws.” Then it was all these people like another brick in the wall. It was basically like Pink Floyd. There are certain films where you get the impression that all the filmmaker is trying to do is to evoke emotion. That was one of them. I didn’t think VERY highly of it.
A liberal dose of shaving cream in a natural environment occasionally encroached by a naked male body creates a stop motion feast for the eyes.
All of us have difficulty remembering what this film was about
LA: Was that the one with the shaving cream?
Steve and Holly [together]: YES!
LA: Oh my goodness, that was so fascinating!
LA: I knew it was shaving cream. So the whole time I’m watching it I’m like, “OK, we’re going to create this effect…”
Steve: …That was challenging…
LA: “…We’re going to put down some shaving cream, then film it, then put down some more shaving cream, then film it.” Meanwhile, the bottom part of the shaving cream would melt. It was just one of those things that was creating images–and I liked the images! It was just one of those, “Hey, this is a fun film experiment.”
Holly: I couldn’t figure it out!
LA: What’s there to figure out?
The Lingerie Show
I’ve never been to an orgy. I’ve never taken drugs. I’ve never even been drunk. So I have no idea what that seedier side of life is like. But if it’s anything like this dark, mixed media animated short, then I’m just as happy not to know. The protagonist experiences her boyfriend ODing after a drug-fueled orgy.
Holly: After I heard her talk about it…I would have rather heard her talk about it before I watched it. Because when she said it was the writer’s sister…I don’t know…I thought some of it had been a dream. I’ve never experienced that side of life.
LA: Are you trying to convince your husband you’ve never had a lingerie sex orgy?
Holly: No, I haven’t. And I’ve never been attracted to a gay man.
LA: Now Mrs. LanceAround is always attracted to the gay men.
Holly: Oh, really?
LA: It’s one of the reasons I don’t have to worry 😉
Mrs. LA: Actually, I love gay men. There’s no “misunderstanding.” I feel very comfortable around them.
I really don’t know what to say about this film. Some kind of surrealistic creatures live on top, another kind lives on bottom. Somehow they reproduce and/or kill one another in this Darwinian tale of adaptation and natural selection.
Holly: I didn’t like it.
LA: I was just trying to make sense of it.
Holly: It seemed like the animal had babies. But then, they were like down in the ground.
LA: I thought the message was, the people up there, when they die, become the people down there. That’s what I got out of it. You get to spray the sperm up to them. This is one of those that says more about the filmmaker than the film.
There’s Too Many of These Crows
Perhaps these crows were inspired by Hitchcock’s famous thriller, The Birds. No matter how much man-engineered fire power is produced, the birds always seem to win in the end–even during the closing credits.
LA: Yea, it was The Birds on steroids.
Holly: It was funny at the end. I don’t remember what made everyone laugh.
LA: Because the crows started coming through the credits.
Bob Dylan Hates Me
A paparazzi-esque young filmmaker has a couple of encounters with Bob Dylan only to discover that most famous people dislike paparazzi behavior. The filmmaker has a lot of talent but needs to realize that famous people are just as human as the rest of us if he is going to succeed in this industry.
LA: My reaction to that film is, “you’re in the film business. You want to be a professional filmmaker. And you can’t speak to a star without tripping over yourself.” He had such low self esteem they could basically just crush him. I thought, “You’re not going to make it in this business!”
Based on the true story of an astronaut who’s space glove goes flying off into space during a spacewalk. This short gives thoughtful (though technically inaccurate) musings on the future travels of his glove. poetic and thoughtful, Holly and Mrs. LanceAround loved this one.
Holly: This one your wife and I loved. You had technical issues with it.
LA: I loved it from a poetic standpoint. But there’s no way that glove reaches the edge of the solar system, let alone the galaxy, let alone the universe.
Holly: I loved the soundtrack. I loved the music.
A filmmaker explores what life might be like for a bacteria that swims into the belly of a man and begins to take over his reality.
Holly: I didn’t like that one.
Our Crappy Town
Every teenager encounters that moment when everything seems right in a relationship–everything but one. For example, what happens if you really, really have to go to the bathroom but you don’t want to spoil the moment. This raunchy tale appeared to make some in the audience cringe while others howled in laughter.
Holly: I didn’t like it, but my husband did.
Steve: I gave it a three!
Holly: I gave it a one!
Q&A With the Filmmakers
There were four filmmakers representing three different movies: Laura Harrison the director of The Lingerie Show, Andrew Coats, Co-Writer & Co-Director and Amanda Jones, Producer of Borrowed Time and Eileen O’Meara of Panic Attack.
Q: What inspired Borrowed Time?
Andrew: Well, it all started when I killed my dad…[generous laughter from the audience.] There’s a long story for that. Overall it started with us trying to tell a story we hadn’t seen in animation as much. We generally treat it as a genre. As you’ve seen tonight there’s a lot of stories that can be told. We wanted to try to do something that was more straight and a western was something that we enjoyed. That’s where the genesis of that was. As far as the story goes, it was through the long process of trying to find what we were wanting to say. It used to be sort of about forgiveness. That was too difficult to tell in the amount of time we had. So we made a way to find a story about closure which is something a lot of people can relate to. It came from that and looking back at your life; mistakes you’ve made, and finding closure–even though they might be horrible, terrible or difficult to remember.
Q: The stopwatch was awesome. Did the film come from that or did that happen as you were writing it?
Andrew: The watch was always there; part of a memento of his life. Whenever I lost somebody in my life, the objects that came from them in some way always made me think of them when I picked them up. What it meant changed a few times.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your film?
Laura: It wasn’t a planned thing. I met this writer. We liked each others work. She’s not super smooth, neither am I. I loved her writing, she loved my animation. I tend to be interested in fringe paint–people who are living outside mainstream culture. It was a character driven interest. I just liked the voice. The writer narrated it. It’s a fictionalization of her family’s life. This is her sister. It’s kind of a documentary.
Eileen: With Panic Attack I have so much anxiety I needed to find something useful to do with it. Every time I would come home I would think, “I need to remember this. Draw a picture about it; write it down.” My animation was doing it as all one shot where it was one thing transforming into the next in sort of a subjective human state.
Q [From LanceAround]: I have two questions, first for Eileen, tell us about the structure of the animation between trying to portray something as you see or feel it and just trying to convey the emotion and how you work those two things out.
Eileen: That’s a good question. I think I just tried to imagine how I saw it and draw it. I’d do a video test of it and sort of say the lines in my head as I watched the video. Sometimes I would just throw out the picture because it didn’t work with it. Sometime the picture and the voiceover would match and sometimes contradict each other. I guess it was a matter of trial and error.
Q [From LanceAround]: Laura, what was the photograph at the end of the two people in the laundromat?
Laura: It’s actually the author and her sister. I didn’t want to make a caricature of this person. I just wanted people to know these are real people, real life. They’re not pompous, you know?
Q: The sheriff looked like the Marlboro man. Who did you model the character after?
Andrew: He’s a mix of a bunch of different characters. We looked at a lot of spaghetti westerns. There’s some Clint Eastwood in there. It wasn’t anyone in particular. It’s got a little of my dad in there. It’s got a little of me in there.
Q: What drew you to your animation style?
Laura: That’s interesting. Some of it came out of limitations–I’m not that skilled as an animator. I’m more of a painter and more interested in texture. A lot to do with the material and my own limitations as an animator.
Andrew: I grew up watching Disney films and I was really interested in doing animation when it started becoming more popular. I always loved acting and drawing so it seemed like the perfect marriage of the two.
Eileen: I really like drawing, I find it very calming. I usually use a much finer line, but since this one the content was about panic I used a much bigger line and much more limited palette so it felt a little more agitated.
Q: [From LanceAround]: For all of you, is this your full time job? And what is your ultimate goal? In other words, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Eileen: I do freelance animation but I also do other stuff. I do research for TV shows. I like getting paid to do animation. But it’s more liberating when you’re your own boss.
Amanada: I’m a script supervisor in animation, that’s my day job. But I’m definitely going to go the producer route.
Andrew: She’s an awesome producer. I will vouch for her. I’m an animator by day. So this was made on weekends and after work for five years.
Laura: That question terrifies me, actually. I do book trailers for authors. This piece I did was supposed to be a book trailer and I turned it into a film. My next project is to work with yet another writer.
Q: What’s a book trailer?
Laura: A relatively new category. Authors are now using this marketing tool–a trailer. It’s kind of like a voiceover type deal and illustrate it.
The Long Drive Home
For the entire hour long car ride back home, we engage in a lively conversation inspired and fueled by the FFF. We go deeper as we share personal experiences with each other. As we hug and wave goodbye at the end of the night, we realize that, once again, the FFF has become more than just FILM and more than just FOOD. The third F stands for FRIENDS.
It’s the perfect place for friends to share both food and film and, most importantly, a deeper and more intimate relationship with one another.
That’s the thing that makes the FFF so special for us!