Pulling the shorts from the drawer | VailDaily.com

Pulling the shorts from the drawer

Shauna Farnell
Special to the DailyAlmost Romeo - Directed by Justin Benson's short film, "Almost Romeo" tells the story of a suicidal young man and his encounter with a benevolent ghost.

Obviously, when it comes to something like peeing, you could go on forever, but for short film director Deb Hagan, 15 minutes was the perfect length to tell the full story.Hagan, who directed “Pee Shy,” a film about a boy scout troop with a nasty scout leader, feels that the intent of short films isn’t necessarily much different than feature-length movies.”For me, a story is a story, whether it’s five pages or a novel,” Hagan said. “If it’s a story worth being told, to me, it has no weight how long it is. You hear people criticizing, like, ‘The Aviator,’ saying, ‘Oh, it’s too long.’ Stories, no matter who’s telling them, find their natural length. For myself, I wanted to do a film that was less than 20 minutes. I thought a real nice, concise story was the most important thing. “Hagan, who has a background in writing and directing commercials, co-wrote “Pee Shy” with best-selling author Kathy Hepinstall (“House of Gentle Men,” “Prince of Lost Places”). She is considering making a full-length feature film out of one of Hepinstall’s novels. “Pee Shy” premiered in February at the Boulder International Film Festival, where it won for Best Short Film.”It’s basically a story of comeuppance,” Hagan said. “It’s about a scout troop that takes the same hike every year, that stops in the same places to pee and stops in the same places to camp. The scout master is a bit of a jerk, so this one year, the challenge is, they stop and they tell spooky stories. Kathy and I both like stories that take you on a good adventure and have some twists and turns. I’ve been asked how a couple of women came up with a script about men and peeing. It seems like standing in a line and peeing is always a test of manhood.”Excluding the student films, the Vail Film Festival will feature 16 short films this week. While film festivals are virtually the only places a person can see short films, shorts are often considered to be the work of amateurs or stepping stones to feature-length films. Some of the most renowned directors, however, create short films, and, as in Hagan’s case, short films, like any 2-hour movie, have a clear-cut introduction, plot, climax and resolution.”It’s a reasonable task, particularly shorts that have a proper arc – a beginning, middle and end. It allows you to explore that,” Hagan said. “They’re so underexposed, short films. They’re getting to be a little more. It’s a way to flex your muscle. They can be a vehicle to use as a calling card for directors.”Whoever’s wearing the shorts …When asked why short films don’t get any airtime in regular movie theaters, both Hagan and Vail Film Festival CO-organizer Sean Cross said it has a lot to do with – surprise – money.”What’s sad is, there are a lot of respectable shorts that just don’t get seen,” Hagan said. “It would be fantastic if regular theaters would screen a half a dozen of the Academy Award-nominated shorts. There’s not the money, or the marketing to get the word out.”In the same way that a larger portion of the population reads novels than short stories, a larger part frequents theaters that play feature-length movies rather than festivals featuring short films.”It requires different skills for filmmakers,” Cross said. “It’s like the difference between writing a novel and writing a poem. You have to pack everything into a short amount of time and space. It’s considered a different art form. You have big directors and big actors making short films. It’s a really great learning tool for aspiring filmmakers. You can learn your craft that way. They’re great because they tell a story in a different way than most of the films we see. Short films are cool because they’re something you can’t see at a regular movie theater. Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Shorts appearing at the Vail Film Festival

(source: http://www.vailfilmfestival.com)”Almost Romeo,” by Justin BensonWorld PremiereA gothic tale of a suicidal young man and his encounter with a benevolent ghost. “Bodies,” by Amy WendelAfter months of chemotherapy and living with a family that is not her own, Annie denies her illness, longing for the family’s health and success, but the eruption of a dark family secret forces her to turn within for strength” “Clean,” by David PalmerColorado PremiereClean is a brief look at a man and his obsessive desire for a spotless car. The film also offers a possible reason for his behavior. “Decaf,” by Jeremy ArthStory of four people with one problem. Completely unaware the other pair exists, these two couples walk similar paths between love and loss. “The Doorstep,” by Brian Paul and Jason NaceyWorld PremiereA penitent man is released from prison after many years and decides to visit the woman whose father he murdered.

“Getting to Know You,” by Liz LachmanA short film that explores the love life of Tenny, a thirty something woman played by Elizabeth Keener so focused on the exterior beauty of women that she forgets to do the basic dating homework and look before she leaps. Tenny’s neurotic needs blind her until she meets Samantha…and the wrong girl teaches Tenny the real beauty of “getting to know you.” “Intimations,” by Matthew TestaAn encounter with a troubled student leads a prep school English teacher to re-examine her life and marriage. A poignant, beautifully-made film about self-awareness, intimacy and finding the will to change.” “The Journey,” by Chris StoverUS PremiereSanford, a young, eager being is on a quest to find happiness. He believes happiness will be found upon arriving at the much touted Island of Destination. “Just Pray,” by Tiffani Thiessen Colorado PremiereMisunderstood, yet wise beyond his years, a nine year old boy unknowingly finds hope and salvation in a beauty shop of his rural, Southern town. “Life’s a Bitch,” by Matt DaleEugene and Jasmine show up to collect the deed to their Grandmother’s estate, which includes a very old, smelly dog. On their way home the dog has a heart attack and dies, but when they hide it in a box which is suddenly and inexplicably stolen, they realise they need the dog back… “Oedipus,” by Jason WishnowThe story of “Oedipus”, in eight minutes, performed by vegetables, in the tradition of Ben-Hur.

“Pee Shy,” by Deb HaganA boy becomes so frightened by his scout leader’s campfire stories that he humiliates himself one night, and becomes the object of the scout leader’s vicious humor …. until the troop encounters something truly terrifying in the woods. “Raveling,” by Todd AlbrightWorld PremiereAn exhausted elderly man, covered with feathers, in an apartment that has been completely destroyed. This inventive short stars screen veteran Richard Angarola (Ben-Hur, Valley of the Dolls, Jeremiah Johnson) in his final film role. “Stricken,” by Jayce Bartok and Christopher J. ScottWorld PremiereStarring Hayley Mills, a quirky short drama about three very different women who only happen to be related. “Traffic Warden,” by Donald RiceNorth American PremiereA lonely traffic warden, a beautiful girl and a bowl of goldfish… Love in London never did come easy. “Trip in a Summer Dress,” by Janine Turner Set in the 1950’s in a small Texas town, Janine Turner (“Northern Exposure,” “Cliffhanger”) makes her directorial debut with this rich, complicated story about a mother and a daughter who are divided by a family secret. For five years Sara Jean struggles to confront her mother about an issue that haunts her soul.Vail, Colorado

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