Review: Get Your Shorts On!
By Mae Anthony
A good piece of film is a work of art. Whether it is weird, exciting, heart throbbing, thrilling, or even plain silly, its purpose is to invoke reactions in us and stimulate our senses.
A Revelation Film Festival special event, Get Your Shorts On! is a regular, somewhat traditional, series of short films written and produced by emerging WA filmmakers. The 30-minute-long movie featured eight short films, all of which were unique and strangely dissimilar despite some common ties amongst a few of them (I assume this was merely a coincidence, or product of the common link of a shared environment).
It almost feels wrong to review this as a whole, seeing as each short was a distinct creative piece in its own right. So here’s my take on each of them:
Producer: Nicholas Dunlop
Writer/Director: Perun Bonser
I was confused by this at first, but shortly came to realise that there was not anything that needed to be understood. Infrared and ultraviolet light photography were incorporated into familiar and unfamiliar surroundings, and scenes were depictions of just that. Perhaps it could have been placed at a different point in the series, but it proved to be a soothing visual experience, contrasted by an overall sense of eeriness from the lack of direction and the auditory effects. It certainly took me outside my comfort zone.
Revealing the Hidden World
Producer: Nicholas Dunlop
Writer/Director: Ashley Spratt
This was a short documentary that was produced by the same person as the previous. Keeping on the theme of light, this documentary explored the life of Aboriginal photographer Tash Nannup, a woman whose defining element in her world is light. This small documentary gives us the bigger details of her life, how she came to be a photographer, how ambition came to be a defining concept in her life, and how that influenced her project of showing the ambitions of young Aboriginal children in the hope to remove the stigma surrounding Aboriginal people that suggests they are lazy, or less-ambitious than the children of other cultures. It was a blissful reminder of the innocence of childhood, and the simplicity of life’s simplest joys: hobbies.
The Shapes: Cool Rock Video & I’m a Genius
Producer: Lauren Elliot
Writer/Director: Matt Lovkis & Henry Inglis
Music & Lyrics: Matt Lovkis & Timothy Nelson
Looking back on the overall eight films, this feature doesn’t bother me quite as much as it did at the time. It felt out of place; a comic animation, these music videos were strange cracks at…something. Two short songs “Cool Rock Video” and “I’m a Genius”. The animation itself was fine, and the music was rather catchy, and at times humorous. These things fused together, made it seem displaced and lacking in purpose. It could have been its position in the line-up of mostly serious shorts, but I guess it offered up an overall comical snobbery for the audience to muse on and sneer at that old devil, teeth-rotting, tomfoolery that is Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maybe that was the point – perhaps it was supposed to make people feel that way to disarm the snobbery? Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever know.
Producer: Jenna Dimitrijevic
Writer/Director: James Pontifex
This was a humorous piece, but it also touched on sentimental threads such as acceptance and kindness. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” was the leading theme for this one. A girl rocks up to a cosmo party, mishearing it as a costume party. After feeling a bit silly dressed as a panda (full face paint and big belly) she discovers someone there who also has come to the party having made the same mistake – or so she thinks. And there’s the twist: he’s a furry, and comes off as someone who thinks he’s a penguin. It was humorous, and a surprisingly effective way to establish the theme of “normal is just about acceptance”.
Producer: Glen Stasiuk
Writer/Director: Nathan Mewett
Sol Bunker was by far my favourite of the eight shorts: a powerful piece that explored the presence of vibrations and sound. Exploring the madness of a man who is convinced that discovering the “sound of life” will save his dying wife. It was told through the narration of an older man (audio) of the memory of a child (visual) observing his father’s desperation of analysing sound and nature, and his mothers declining health and longing for her husband’s comfort. The music was exquisite and the scenes were concise and personal. It was a treasurable reminder of how sound can transfer emotions and create connections between living things.
Producer: Jess Parker
Writer/Director: Cody Cameron-Brown
Outline was a very interesting interpretation on the subject of grief. We see an artist find some solace in a strange circumstance. At most points surprising, with one exception, this piece shows a woman drawing a chalk-detailed picture on a police outline of a woman who has died. Rubbish everywhere, perfection in mind, she works all of her chalk away, and when almost finished she is still struggling with the eyes. To top it all off, it starts to rain (this was the unsurprising part). It was touching, with a peaceful and surprisingly tranquil outcome – a clever way to depict a person in an indescribable state of grief.
Shadows of Displacement
Producer: Renee Kennedy
Writer/Director: Perlin Bonser
This was a black and white puppetry-animation of Government polices surrounding the supposed “duties” of the state regarding Aboriginal people. It had narration of the polices, ranging from the beginning of settlement, to statements made by previous Prime Minister Tony Abbot, and current WA Premier Colin Barnett. The dark element used in the black and white puppetry cut-out animation only illuminated the patronising and pathetic tones written in the policies made by white men who took, and sadly continue to take, it upon themselves to “look after” what isn’t theirs to look after.
Producer: Lauren Curtis-Power
Writer/Director: James Broadhurst
The only thriller in the line-up, Reflection definitely showed promise at the beginning. An (obviously) unhappy married couple take a trip to a secluded lake. Strange things can happen when you look in reflections and see exactly what is staring back at you. It was successful in delivering an overall sense of creepiness, but it was apparently all in the music. I found myself sitting there imaging some of the scenes without it, and all of the chill melted away. Still, there was good use of location for scenes, and there was enough substance in the cinematic effects and good enough characterisation from the actors to convey the overall objective.
Unfortunately, this was the only screening of Get Your Shorts On! I would recommend checking it out at next year’s festival: it’s a unique and exciting experience to see the work of a handful of WA filmmakers. Who knows what they’ll create next.