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When I presented a set at the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival in 2014, the programming was clear. I'd programmed sets for six previous events and the various sci-fi shorts I'd selected from Arizona constituted 82 minutes. Easy!
Well, returning to this festival a year later to host a new set, I found it wasn't quite so easy to follow suit. I'd programmed sets for six events since Jerome 2014, which included thirteen short Arizona films, but the festival and I promptly ruled seven of them out, leaving only six viable for a new set that wouldn't be long enough to work.
Here's why I dropped those seven titles... Three were films I'd screened the previous year but then reused at other events to new audiences and I didn't want to repeat at Jerome. I'd also screened a fourth in 2014, Closed Quarters, because the festival had asked me to, but it would otherwise have shifted to my 2015 set because I'd independently obtained permission to screen it at FANtasm. Two others had already played Jerome in regular programming, so those were out too to avoid repetition. The last was a film which had been independently submitted to the festival in 2015 and accepted for a couple of other sets, including the setpiece Verde Valley train ride, so it was out for mine.
The other difference was that I'd only selected sci-fi films for my 2014 set in Jerome, because the majority of events I'd programmed were for sci-fi cons and so I'd predominantly programmed sci-fi films. The only Arizona film I excluded from my 2014 Jerome set was Helsing, as it would have been the only horror short in a sci-fi set. However, as I've been expanding since then to cons that feature other genres, my list of six Arizona films constituted three horror shorts, two sci-fi shorts and one steampunk music video. So, clearly, my Jerome set wasn't just going to be sci-fi this time out!
I looked around for some other Arizona titles worthy of inclusion and found three that would break up the various tones of the set nicely and make it flow well: one horror short, one sci-fi short and one that really has to be defined as both. I call it a horror/sci-fi set.
My choice to include Arizona shorts in my mini-film festivals was partly aimed to showcase local cinema but mostly to allow filmmakers to attend and do Q&As, as Jim Politano, writer and producer of The Class Analysis kindly did in Jerome in 2015. Thanks, Jim! However, with 2016 promising to send me to a few different cities and states to host events, I'm not sure how well this will scale geographically and I may need to reevaluate the concept behind this set if I'm asked to return to Jerome for a third year.
|1||Hellytubby||2012||2m||Matt Iseminger||Conquistador Cats||USA||YouTube|
|2||Timeline Two||2015||5m||Adolpho Navarro||N'Raged Media||USA||IMDb|
|3||Where Terror Sleeps||2014||10m||Jake Roberts||Mr Beagle Productions||USA||Vimeo|
|4||Ouroboros||2014||15m||Alexander Broderick||University of Advancing Technology||USA||AL||IMDb|
|5||The Class Analysis||2014||15m||Webb Pickersgill||Dreamlook Productions||USA||AL||IMDb|
|6||The Babooshka Beast||2014||8m||Adolpho Navarro||N'Raged Media||USA||YouTube|
|7||Vault of Souls: The Pact||2006||5m||Kevin R Phipps||Intellectual Machine
|8||Helsing||2013||21m||Ryan Johnston||Art of War Pictures||USA||AL||IMDb|
|9||Caravan||2014||6m||Katherine Stewart||Jeff Hunt Band||USA||YouTube|
Hellytubby, a faux trailer for a horror feature about exactly what you think, is so much fun that I've been using it as my test reel when setting up at conventions for a while. People love it and pay attention even when there's no sound, but it's even better when actually screened in a set and I was happy to get a second chance to show it properly after including it in one of my FearCon de los Muertos! mini-film festival sets in 2014.
As I did there, I used it to kick off the set in Jerome. It's tough to place faux trailers anywhere but the beginning of sets, which does make it awkward when you have another great starter. Here it was the only obvious one and, as always, it worked well.
It can be seen online at YouTube, with an additional scene at the end that plays really well to audiences but does depart a little from what would normally be included in a trailer.
Timeline Two is one of two films from Adolpho Navarro and N'Raged Media that I added late to this set. He's so prolific and so consistent in what he does that it's easy to recognise his style, even when he's not personally on screen. This, along with his choice of scripts, means that his films are generally very accessible.
As with many of Navarro's films, this was a 48 hour challenge film, made for the Almost Famous Film Festival in 2015, where it won as Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for the 10 year old lead, Zoe Cunningham.
Also, as with many of Navarro's films, it's a much bigger story than it seems with what could easily have been half an hour of material compressed down to five minutes. Here, it's a time travel feature, which unfolds roughly as you might expect but with a couple of little twists added in, with all the fat taken out, leaving it as a well-paced five minute short film.
Unlike most of Navarro's films, this one can't be watched online. Yet.
Where Terror Sleeps was my last minute inclusion for my FANtasm set and it played OK there. I felt that it played better in Jerome, perhaps because I had a bigger screen to work with.
It's a slower film, as you might expect from an adaptation of a Lovecraft story, so it helped to slow the set down from breakneck pace, but it didn't lose anyone's attention and the chilling moments sold better.
With that observation, I'd recommend that you see this on as large a screen as possible, but if you want to watch on the device in your pocket you can see the film on Vimeo or YouTube.
My feelings on Ouroboros are laid out in my Apocalypse Later review, so I won't repeat here, except to say that it's the visual tour de force that we've come to expect from UAT, even if the story doesn't offer anything new.
That visual style plays well in short sci-fi sets, because it isn't just good; it's great. It brings work of the level we might expect from big Hollywood budgets into short films made predominantly by students at a local college and that realisation is usually a shocking one.
UAT usually shares its films online but this one is still doing the festival circuit so isn't available to watch online yet.
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