short film review

Reviews and news about short films, short film festivals, reviews, links and guides to short films online,images from short films,directors,writers,cinemaphotographers. Copyright 2005, 2006 by Allan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Lucky Fan

One Lucky Fan, another of Atom Film's best of 2005 exhibits the qualities that draw the largest audiences still, a sexy woman vamping and a surprise ending that seems entirely appropriate. Sharp piece of work, as all of Atom's top ten offerings are this year.

Consent, Sex Contract at Atom Films

"Consent" a short film on Atom Film's top ten list for 2005, takes a satiric look at what might happen if marriage prenupital contracts were extended to sexual relationships.

The reactions of the actors to their lawyers suggestions are hilarious, but the whole thing is take-this-to-extremes funny yet meaningful in more ways than one. I particularly liked Rachel Vacca's nonverbal reactions to the staid lawyerly suggestions regarding who would do what to whom and for how long.

All of the Atom films top ten this year show impressive technical and story-telling expertise. Even streamed onto a computer screen they have movie impact.

Impressive work. Here's the credits for "Consent."

Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Jason Reitman
Executive Producer: David Tate
Producer: Dan Dubiecki
Director of Photography: Eric Steelberg
Editor: Yanosh Cuglove
Story by: Michele Lee
Line Producer: Scott Ludden
Complete Cast: Todd Waldman, Rachel Vacca, Katy Ostrander, Jeff Witzke, Taylor Nasseur

Atom films selects best of 2005 shorts

Best Atom Films for 2005

"A Ninja pays half my rent," is a clever and very funny take on the whole Ninja Hong Kong film-making school. You''l get more than a few laughs from it's satiric take on the tradition from the viewpoint of a normal guy who just happens to have a Ninja roommate...or two...
Director: Steven K. Tsuchida
Producers: Steven K. Tsuchida, Mark Castro
Writers: Steven K. Tsuchida, Aaron Ginsberg, Wade McIntyre
Complete Cast: Steven Tsuchida, Mark Castro, Aaron Ginsburg, Timm Sharp, Stever Yeager, Anthony Liebetrau, Shin Koyamada

Luke Franklin's portrait of an extremely tall man an a dwarf is reminsiscent of the Southern Gothic tradition of Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, and Flannery O'Conner. It's a hoot. Though you really should read O'Connor and McCullers. They're funny too, and maybe a bit more character driven so that you get that extra literary OOMPHTH. Cast: Declan Sammon, Conn Rogers, Johan Slattery.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Damah Short Film Fest Seeks Submissions

2002 Damah Film Festival // Spiritual Experiences In Film //

THE DAMAH FILM FESTIVAL, the world's leading spiritual short film festival, announced its call for entries for the 2006 festival to be held in Los Angeles next May.

The festival accepts short films from any genre, made in any format, in any year. The only requirement is that films must be no longer than 30 minutes and submitted in a DVD format.

The Damah Festival is unique in providing community, education and distribution opportunities to emerging filmmakers as well as great parties. Submission deadlines are December 15th, 2005 for early submissions, January 1st, 2006 for regular submissions and January 15th, 2006 for late submissions. Fees are $35 early, $40 regular, and $45 for late submissions. Submissions can be through the Damah
Film Festival

Rest of Sundance Short Film Lineup

Here's the rest of the impressive lineup of short films scheduled at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance site offers its own short films about the festival and they're an insider's look at what's going on. It's a perfect touch for a film fest Web site and we're betting you'll see more of the same for other festivals in the coming year(s).

The festival's "Frontier" shorts program looks particularly interesting.

Here's the animated, frontier, and international shorts lineup:

Animated Shorts
FABLE (Director: Daniel Sousa)—A woman and man's passions are overshadowed by their predatory instincts.
FUMI AND THE BAD LUCK FOOT (Director: David Chai)—The story of Fumi and her extremely unlucky foot, including a shotgun barrage, wild moose attack, and infant electrocution.
GOPHER BROKE (Director: Jeff Fowler)— No matter how hungry a gopher may be there is no free lunch.
HADACOL CHRISTMAS (Director: Brent Green)— Santa Claus invents Christmas with a belly
full of cough syrup and a head full of dying crows.
LOS ABCS: ¡QUE VIVAN LOS MUERTOS! (Director: John Jota Leaños)—Do you remember
your ABCs? No? Well, you’re in luck. Sing along with this group of animated Mariachi social documentarians.
THE WRAITH OF COBBLE HILL (Director: Adam Parrish King)—It's up to Felix to either
reciprocate the benevolence shown him, or perpetuate the neglect handed down as a family legacy.

This year's collection of shorts from around the world offers a compelling look at stories about leaving home, crossing borders, fitting in, living with war, meditations on poetry and life, Aboriginal culture and cow tipping.

Dramatic Shorts
ANTONIO'S BREAKFAST / UK (Director: Daniel Mulloy)—A young man and his friends make room for a father's needs.
ARUBA / Canada (Director: Hubert Davis)—With domestic violence and drug abuse at home, a young boy's only escape is through his imagination.
BAWKE / Norway (Director: Hisham Zaman)—A father is forced to choose between two evils to provide for his son's future.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END / Brazil (Director: Gustavo Spolidoro)—A man struggles to maintain normalcy in a home besieged by war.
BE QUIET / France (Director: Sameh Zoabi)—A simple car trip is beset by politically charged tension and a militarized reality.
BEFORE DAWN / Hungary (Director: Bálint Kenyeres)—Before dawn, people will rise and other people will take away their hope.
DESEJO / Brazil (Director: Anne Pinheiro Guimarães)—A journey into the psyche of Atanasio, a doorman in Copacabana.
EXOTICORE / Belgium (Director: Nicolas Provost)—An immigrant from Burkina Faso attempts to integrate into Norwegian society.
LE ROUGE AU SOL/ Canada (Director: Maxime Giroux)—After hitting rock-bottom, a man shares his feelings with his mother as they drive to Ikea.
MONSIEUR ETIENNE / France (Director: Yann Chayia)—An elderly man cannot decide which of his friend's funerals he should attend on the same day.
THE NATURAL ROUTE / Spain (Director: Álex Pastor)—Soon Divad will find out that his destiny is already written and that he can’t do anything to change it.
A SUPERMARKET LOVE SONG / UK (Director: Daniel Outram)—A teenage girl on community service takes an old man to the supermarket. A love story in a minor key.

Documentary Shorts
RAPE FOR WHO I AM / South Africa (Director: Lovinsa Kavuma)—An insight into the lives of South Africa’s black lesbians who, raped because of their sexuality, refuse to become victims.
SMUDGE / Canada (Director: Gail Maurice)—Witness how a small group of Aboriginal women celebrate their rights to worship in the city their way.
UNDRESSING MY MOTHER / Ireland (Director: Ken Wardrop)—A poignant documentary that explores a woman’s unique take on her overweight and aging body.

Animated Shorts
AT THE QUINTE HOTEL / Canada (Director: Bruce Alcock)—In an incredible animated version of the Al Purdy poem, a man waxes on about beer and flowers in a small-town basement tavern.
BOB LOG III'S ELECTRIC FENCE STORY / Germany (Director: Stock 'n' Wolf )—Big difficulties are encountered by Bob Log III in the Black Forest while trying to knock over sleeping cows.
CLARA / Australia (Director: Van Sowerwine)—A twelve year old girl's world has just changed forever.
FLESH/ France (Director: Edouard Salier)—The Empire unveils everything but sees nothing and its enemies idealize everything but tolerate nothing. For some it’s the earthly orgasm of virtual whores, while for others the eternal orgasm of 70 heavenly virgins.
A HALF MAN / Canada (Director: Firas Momani)—A half of a man has trouble living in society without his organs falling out.
THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO / Australia (Director: Anthony Lucas)—In a fantasy future, a navigator goes on a journey to find a cure for the plague killing his fiancee.
YESTERDAY, I THINK / UK (Director: Becalelis Brodskis)—Once there was a baby that made those around him hate...

FRONTIER SHORT FILMS The Festival’s Frontier short film section presents nine films that represent new directions in filmmaking. Utilizing experimental and innovative aesthetic approaches, work in the Frontier category challenges and provokes.

THE BLEEDING HEART OF IT / Canada (Director: Louise Bourque)—The house that bursts;
the scene of the crime; the nucleus. A universe collapses on itself: all hell breaks loose.
FANTOME AFRIQUE / UK (Director: Isaac Julien)—Cinematic and architectural references are weaved through the rich imagery of urban Ouagadougou, the center for cinema in Africa, and the arid spaces of rural Burkina Faso.
HIGH PLAINS WINTER / USA (Directors: Cindy Stillwell)—The cold and magnificent times of a Montana town.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR A LIGHT AND SOUND MACHINE / Austria (Director: Peter Tscherkassky)—An attempt to transform a Roman Western into a Greek tragedy.
QUIMERA / Brazil (Director: Eryk Rocha)—Man and cat are melting at the invisible limit of their bodies, made of rumors from a mythical creature, a new animal.
SITE SPECIFIC_LAS VEGAS 05 / Italy (Director: Olivo Barbieri)—One-hundred years after it's foundation and seemingly impermeable to the energy crises and terrorism which face the world today, what has become of Las Vegas?
TRUE NORTH / USA (Director: Isaac Julien)—One of the key members of Robert E. Peary’s 1909 Arctic expedition, Matthew Henson, an African-American, was arguably the first person to reach the North Pole.
UTEN TITTEL / Norway (Director: Anja Breien)—A poetic film about a cruel theme, told in a way that doesn't make the spectators close their eyes.
VISCERA / USA (Director: Leighton Pierce)—Flowing video explores absence and how absence transforms and influences perception, memory, and imagination.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Video Blogging Taking Off

Video blog star is born

So says the New York Times about vblogger Amanda Congdon, who hosts

Congdon is among the more successful practioners of this new form of blogging. Her vlog includes correspondents from around the U.S. and Europe and focues on Internet and tech culture. She's an actress who's appeared on network TV and presents an entertaining show in her short pieces.

The article points out that vlogs are blooming with more than 2,000 already listed in one directory. Here's a piece about them over at MSNBC

Since vlogs are essentially short video movies, we'll be discussing them at more length here on an ongoing basis.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pillowfight Grinds To a Climax

Director Scott Rice did "Pillowfight," a 4:24 minute short in 2004 and it's a taut little drama. My ex wife used to grind her teeth and it's more disturbuing than you actually experience here. It's a viscerally disturbing sound and sensation. Rice, who dedicates this short to his wife, captures a sense of true love no-matter-what in this little film.

The poor protagonist's wife also snores. "It's just epiglotal thrust," a loud snoring friend of mine once said at camp. "Epiglotal my patooty. I'm gonna shove that epiglotis up your backside," another camp roommate said. Craig Cline, here, playing the husband, does rather better by Stephanie Etie in this miniature love story.

We love Rice's "Perils of Nude Modeling," short reviewed earlier on this blog, which we fortunately saw orignally on a big screen at Winston-Salem's (NC) fine Riverrun International Film Festival in 2005 and then again on a fine dvd transfer with the book "International Short Film Festival," and yet again on, where you can also catch "Pillowfight."

It's another tight, focused, expertly told, technically effective, and moving short.

This guy knows how to make a short film. I'm betting he's going to have a lucrative career doing just that if he wants, although feature producers are likely to come a calling too.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Glamour Magazine Launches Short Films

Glamour Magazinehas launched a short film series based on true stories submitted by its readers. The one that's getting the most ink (and electrons) is "Dealbreaker," directed by Gweneth Paltrow, but not available until Jan. 29.

Meanwhile, you can catch the others, including "Gnome," "Good Morning Baby," "Little Black Dress," and "Wait," at:

Check back here for reviews of them all soon.

Sundance to Run 73 Shorts

Sundance Film Festival 2006 plans to screen 73 short films in three categories: dramtic, doc, adn animated. They were culled from 4,327 submissions to the festival. This year it runs from Jan. 19-29 in Utah.

Starting Jan. 19, you can also view all of the shorts at teh Sundance online Film Festival at, and you better believe we'll be reviewing the lot of them, even if I have to pay some additional reviewers cold, hard cash.

The shorts include 42 from the U.S., and 31 from 17 other countries.

Festival Director of Programming John Cooper said, "Short films have always had an important role in cinema and at the Sundance Film Festival. As the tools required to create films have become more accessible, new voices have emerged, and short films are a place to discover some of the most creative and challenging work being done today."

Here's our first list of the Sundance short films:


Dramatic Shorts

Bugcrush (Director: Carter Smith) -- A small-town high school loner, whose fascination with a dangerously seductive new kid leads him into something much more sinister than he could ever have imagined.

Common Practice (Director: Marcos Efron) -- A young Mexican-American boy in East L.A. whose gift for playing the violin brings his community together.

Dealbreaker (Director: Gwyneth Paltrow and Mary Wigmore) -- A down to earth New Yorker, who is finally able to look past superficial flaws when she finds the right man.

The Debt / USA/Republic of Georgia (Director: Levan Koguashvili) -- Two illegal Georgian immigrants from the former Soviet Union fight for their survival in the streets of Brooklyn, New York.

Divorce Lemonade (Director: Justin Hayward) -- A 13-year-old girl covers for her drunk estranged father.

First Date (Director: Gary Huggins) -- A volatile ex-con will stop at nothing to keep a date with the underage boy he met online.

Fourteen (Director: Nicole Barnette) -- A Mormon girl turns fourteen and her life changes radically.

Gesture Down/I Don't Sing /USA/Mexico (Director: Cedar Sherbert)--A graceful and personal adaptation of the poem "Gesture Down to Guatemala" by the late Native American writer James Welch.

Ha Ha Ha America
(Director: Jon Daniel Ligon) -- From China, a translated harangue laughs at the missteps of the USA.

Hello, Thanks (Director: Andrew Blubaugh) -- Filmmaker Andy Blubaugh's year in the personal ads, looking for love but having his true love affair with the words themselves.

Hold Up (Director: Madeleine Olnek) -- A robber who is after more than the money at a corner-store hold up.

La Muerte Es Pequena / USA/Brazil (Director: Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa) -- Two strangers looking for apartments end up alone in the same unit, where personal philosophies and bodies collide.

Lighten Up (Director: John Viener) -- A man deals with becoming a father while driving his friend to the doctor.

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf (Director: Susan Youssef)--An Arab-American girl who must come to terms with her sexuality while balancing the mores of two different cultures.

Max and Josh (Director: Kathryn Ann Busby) -- Best friends Max and Josh have inane, insane and hilarious arguments, until fate intervenes.

Momma's Boy (Director: John Bryant) -- A young man brings his fiance home for Thanksgiving dinner - bad things happen.

One Sung Hero (Director: Samantha Kurtzman-Counter) -- A 34-year-old copy machine salesperson (by day) who has found her true calling as a Karaoke Missionary.

The Pity Card (Director: Bob Odenkirk) -- Is the best place for a first date really the Holocaust Museum?

Redemptitude (Director: David Zellner) -- A preacher ventures deep into the Australian Outback to save the soul of a man who's abandoned his faith.

Robin's Big Date (Director: James Duffy) -- Can the Boy Wonder tell the girl of his dreams how he feels about her? Not if The Bat-man has anything to say about it.

Transaction (Director: Jacques Thelemaque) -- A cinema verite-style exploration of the shifting dynamic between a seasoned call girl and her first-time client.

You Turned Back And Held My Hand (Director: Gabriela Tollman) -- When do we know the difference between love and sex?

Your Dark Hair Ihsan / USA/Mexico (Director: Tala Hadid) -- A man returns from Europe to his natal city in Northern Africa, and remembers his childhood and the mother he lost as a child.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher Kicks Swastika Butt

Alex Woo's "Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher," made the festival rounds last year (we saw it at the venerable Carolina Theatre in Durham NC at one of its many festivals). It's also over at AOL's

"Rex Steele" follows in the tradition of Richard Fleisher's 1940s Superman animations (I hesitate to call such elegant film-making cartoons). Both use film techniques to give their comic book narratives a cinematic feel one too seldom sees in animation then or now. The "Star Wars" reminescent music drives the action with lush movie orchestration while the direction is cinematic, cutting from moody, noirish establishing shots to Leone-style close ups.

Graphic narratives (comic books? graphic novels or stories) at their best are cinematic. They tell their action sequences in pictures as film does. We apprehend the world through these picture/action narratives. So they go straight to our brain and evoke an emotional response. That's why film is the most popular and universal medium man ever invented.

"Rex Steele" is more of a homage to the Fleisher style animation--or perhaps "Heavy Metal" magazine's, and others of their type, all too few though they are. It reminds us of how much more than the general TV type of animation so common is actually possible.

This is a simple hero-saves-the-girl story with more sexy "Heavy Metal" and Frank Frazetta style art than say Fleisher's 1940's Lois Lane. Those giant sci-fi machines, (one look and the phallic nature of those big pointy things is pretty obvious), the action-adventure formula, and the rock-jawed, bulging muscled hero all hark to archetypes of the genre. But they're used effectively and the audience actualy cheered when I saw this for the first time on a big screen. It's lots of fun without any serious message.
Both images in this post are copyrighted and used with permission of Alex Woo.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Headgear Girl at Underground Films

Head Gear Girl

"Head Gear Girl," by writer-director Emily Weissman, is about a young girl wearing head gear braces that make her an outsider. Any of us who have been outsiders in our time can identify and feel empathy for the character.

Still, as a couple of reviewers on note, the title sequence is overly long for a very short movie, as are the end credits. The story itself is more of a slice-of-life thing than a finished plotline. Emily would have done well to cut the front and back credit sequences and added a bit more story development, again, something site reviewers suggest. I frequently disagree with site-reviewer comments on Atom and ifilm and AOl's moviefone (see links on sidebar). But these reviewers are sharp.

Megan Casey handled the title role here with alplomb. I'm always impressed with younger actors who pull off such professional performances. Is it our movie culture that instills acting talent this way or is it that acting is such a natural part of being human? Regardless, Casey is talented. We hope to see more of her.

The movie has nice action sequences for a mini-DV production, all well handled by Casey. The movie progresses quickly and I particularly liked the brief section where Casey ducks into the grass to avoid being seen by classmates who unmercifully tease her. It spoke volumes about the character and Casey moves well, effortlessly, regardless of what she does. All of the actors turn in professional level performances, though.

The camerawork, sound and other technical aspects of this are suberb for MiniDV, better, really than all too many we see using much higher-end equipment.

Here are the details from the
Underground film

Running Time: (11 minutes 37 seconds)
Original Format: MiniDV
Filmmaker BioOriginally very Montana, Emily attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts outside of Boston before recieving a B.F.A. in Film at New York University and an M.F.A. in directing at the American Film Institute. Other than writing and directing, she's rather mothery.

"Yikes" and "Champs" comic books by Ribs, Joseph Losey films, Michael Ritchie films, and the writers Malcolm Lowry, Roald Dahl, and Percy Bysshe Shelley

Francesca Catalano, Member of the Shark PAck
Megan Casey, Head Gear Girl
Michael Salai, Member of the Shark Pack
Sean Carrillo, Member of the Shark Pack
Trevor James, Potential Boy

Emily Weissman, Director
Gloria Rosa Vela, Editor
Philip Harris, Producer
Emily Weissman, Writer
Aasulv Wolf Austad, Director of Photography
Jennifer Alicia Jones, Production Designer

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sexual Harrassment Film Laugh-out-Loud funny

sexual harassment

This satire on sexual harrassment at Underground Films is entertaining if not PC. The language and imagery of this movie is hilarious and will make you laugh out loud, but the thing is raunchy to the max.

Sexual Harassment

by Tyler Spiers

Running Time: (2 minutes 35 seconds)
Original Format: MiniDV
Filmmaker Bio
Tyler Spiers and Joe Davidson are comedic filmmakers. Check out all their films at

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ako: Is that me on TV?

We've been exploring a number of sites that offer a pleathora of short films for your pleasure and elucidation. offers many intriguing short movies well worth exploring.

The film vocabulary speaks to the mind, but we don't mind a little plotting along with feeding our image addiction.

At tried first, "Ako To'" by Jurly O. Malodon-on Jr.

Athough some interactive comments suggest it's intended as an ironic satire on Philippine politics, it comes across as just another It-was-all-a-dream scenario in which a tv-watcher sees himself unaccountably on his small tv screen. H'mmm, why am I on TV, he wonders. He yanks the plug. He's still on. It's incrutable (to resort to western cliches). Or is it a doppelganger exercise with a video double, another you onscreen? Who's you, the one on screen?

There is a frisson, a scary moment when he first sees the shadow of a figure carrying a knife behind him on the screen, but even that is rather cliched.

Even the device of the "double" seems fairly common in short films. We recently saw another doppelganger short in which a charcter meets his double, "Rear View Mirror" over at's midnight movies category. We'll review it soon.

The whole idea of encountering an exact twin or perhaps ourselves at some intersection of dimensions or time and space is a freaky little bit of alienation that didn't just pop out of the modern imagination. In literature, Edgar Allan Poe ("The Doppleganger"); Doetoevski ("The Double" pretty much exchangeable titles, since "Doppleganger" means "Double" in the sense of exact twin in German) and Conrad ("The Secret Sharer") among others, have tackled the theme. Some modern physics even suggest that infinite mulitple dimensions even mean we may all have our "doubles" in dimensional time and space.

On the other hand, the device often strikes me as the uber-cliched easy out of "It was all a dream," and using both devices as "Ako" does, fails to redeem the cliche or the film.

Nevertheless, "Ako's" effective use of a claustrophobic small room setting with its tiny TV and single character in a t-shirt does suggest our blood connection to watching electrons dance. I think it's less a comment on Phillipine politics than one on the way we connect to TV microwaves in our living rooms.

Presley Films at AOL's Short Film Fest

We're talking David Presley, here, not Elvis, in case you came looking for the King instead of the director of short films and film technician (that's Presley, center, in the photo). You can find his films at AOL's Moviefone.

David, who has an impressive IMBD page, also has the unusual distinction of winning a place in the 1984 Guineess book of world records for his score on the video game, "Timepilot," has made two shorts available on AOL's

They are "Face of the Enemy," which won well deserved attention at numerous film festivals and "Rule Number One," which we found equally effective technically, but much less cohesive despite more than twice the length (10 minutes for Enemy vs. 25 for Rule) of his earlier film.

"Rule Number One" shifts from fiction and a character to documetary and that character interviewing other girls about whether or not "Guys only want one thing." Danielle Panabaker's flawless acting and girl-next-door looks bring a grounded feelign of reality to the enterprise.

I do like the whole film within a film idea as a structural device and the recursive nature of the film. Our minds work through recursive means, everything falling back on itself, everything referring back to other things in this endless procession of linked ideas and images. Watching this film is a little like watching someone think.

"Face the Enemy" benefits from our long exposure to quick cutting in war films or those dealing with violence and upheaval from "Potemkin" on. It works on your nerves with its rapid fire machine gun of images and explosive battlefield simulations.

"Rule Number One," (Men only want one thing...guess what that is?)on the other hand, loses us with quick cutting without transitions. Co-conceived with star Danielle Panabaker, who carries her role off with panache and talent, it has touching moments. But it's a short with a feature agenda.
(That's Danielle in the photo)

Short films such as Presley's show considerable technical mastery. The cinematography is impressive and accomplished, the lighting expert, the acting believable and without jarring wrong notes. But they suffer, even the best of them, from trying to say too much or suggest too much, or not having anything at all to say, or not getting across what they're trying to say. They have muddled plots, present characters we do not care about and feed only our image addiction without engaging our minds or hearts.

Presley's films do not suffer from all of these faults by any means and their technical mastery raises them well above the average on all counts. You just feel the cinematic sense underlying these shorts, the feel for the language of movies. Yet they suffer from script weaknesses that impair their impact. I want to see the loving attention paid to technical expertise applied to telling a coherent and powerful, affecting story.

Many of these short films are meant as technical ability showcases intended to land the directors and others involved jobs in the industry. They often succeed on that level. I'd hire Presley and company based on these films. I'd hire Panabaker.

The question I always ask on top of looking at their sales reel qualities, is whether or not these short films succeed as films. Presley's do better than many. With more attention to telling a moving story, they could do better than all but a very few.

Presley has managed to get lots of feature film work ("Starship Troopers,", "The Insider," "Gone in 60 Seconds," among many others in crew roles as video assist operator and other slots. He'll need to sharpen his story sense to move on to directing larger projects successfully.

Presley's "Face the Enemy" works because it is focused on more than camera angles and rapid cutting. It emotionally engages us. His second fails to engage the viewer as viscerally, because it does not find its emotional connection, despite Panabaker's winsome qualities.

But you could not call either of these short films failures compared to the morass of half-thought-out, simplistic and derivative efforts out there in shortfilmland.

If I could place a bet, I'd say Presley and company will showing up on everyone's radar (and movie, computer, tv screens) in the future. Panabaker as well, and I'll be looking for both of them.