The First-Ever Salute Your Shorts Film Festival
Written by Jake Thomas
The first annual Salute Your Shorts Film Festival took place here in LA during the last weekend of August, and one of my favorite events was the opening night mixer on Friday night at Epiphany Space. Not only was it the first opportunity for several of the filmmakers to meet our festival programmers (who had become huge fans of their work!), but it was also an opportunity for them to encourage up-and-coming film students from the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, which hosted the festival screenings. The venue was packed and the food was delicious. A number of filmmakers and actors made the journey from far away to attend.
As an event volunteer, I got to do a little of everything. Facility prep. Photography. Projectionist. Even air conditioning repairman. Being part of a festival is very much like being part of a production crew — do what needs done, and ask questions later! Fortunately, everything sailed smoothly under the command of Erin Brown Thomas (Artistic Director) and Becky Murdoch (Festival Director).
The screenings followed on Saturday. Some of my favorite films were the genre movies. One called Just, Go! is an action movie under ten minutes that’s more riveting than a Hollywood blockbuster, and the behind-the-scenes story of its star is even more incredible. Find it online when available and watch for yourself — no spoilers from me! Another great category was the experimental film category. The Ten Meter Tower is a non-traditional fly-on-the-wall movie about multiple swimmers standing at the top of a giant diving platform as each of them musters the courage to jump into the pool that lies so far, far below. Few do. Many don’t. It’s so suspenseful! Everyone is afraid of heights, so everyone can relate to these true life characters. The audience laughed with sympathy for those who retreated and cheered loudly for those who took the dive.
Not only do the shorts deserve a salute, but the programmers, the judges, the volunteers, and the audience as well. Repeatedly between screening blocks, everyone involved praised the quality of the films. The individual judges who selected the runners-up and winners in each category had a difficult job on their hands choosing winners. Each expressed as much. Emmy-winner Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development) deliberated long and hard before naming Derin Seale’s The Eleven O’Clock the Best Comedy. Likewise, producer Dan Lin (The LEGO Batman Movie) had fantastic animated films to judge before he named the tear-jerker Pearl as Best Animated Short.
It didn’t matter that the second day of screenings took place in an intimate theater on one of the hottest days of the year. Audience members bought all-day tickets and stayed throughout the evening into the awards ceremony. Two of the evening’s big winners were Laura Moss, writer-director of Fry Day, and Dustin Hahn, writer of the single-shot shorts Parent Teacher and The Robbery, along with writer-director Jim Cummings. Fry Day is an exceptional drama that won not only the Student Visionary Award at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this spring, but also walked away Sunday night with awards in five categories, including Best of the Fest. Parent Teacher won Best of the Web , and The Robbery walked away with the Audience Award.
When a runaway teenager encounters a persistent newspaper reporter in the city of Metropolis, her anger towards superheroes and Superman himself explodes in full force. If he is so great and so powerful, why is the world such a horrible place? Jake Thomas wrote and directed One on One, an award-winning short film featured on dozens of blogs around the world. Jake currently works on the Warner Brothers lot while finishing his feature film and writing screenplays.
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