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Muslim Death Metal

I knew it had been a while since my last blog, but I didn’t realize it was a month. Yikes. For anyone who actually reads this thing… I apologize.

Aspen Shorts Fest was just fantastic. When young filmmakers come and ask me where they should submit their short films, I always start by saying Aspen. They have a separate festival strictly for shorts and have impeccable taste. They treat short filmmakers like artists and create a community among them for those four days that lasts a lifetime. I am still close with directors from my first year there.

That said, this year was different. This year, they were showing a retrospective of my short film work including commercials. In addition, this year I was a judge. The show of my shorts was a lot of fun. I got a real kick out of seeing work from almost a decade ago projected for an audience. But it’s kind of like looking at old photos of yourself from the 80’s. You can’t help thinking how dated everything looks…

I can’t believe I used to be into that music over the end titles.
That camera technique is so 1998 - Speed Ramps – Yikes!
Did I think white flashes were cool?

However, they ended the festival by showing TYFS. In looking at everything I’ve done over the last decade, I could actually trace my style and see how I got to where I am now. It also got me thinking about what I would learn over the coming ten years.

Being a judge was trickier than I thought. First of all, you’re not allowed to sleep through any films. I know this seems like a dick thing to say, but you’re watching a hundred films over four days in a dark theater. When I come just as a spectator, if there’s a thirty minute Polish film about the emotional crisis of a deep sea fisherman… I might just nod off. It’s a rare occurrence, but it happens. The nice thing about short films is you can wake up twenty minutes later and there’s something new to enjoy.

However, you can’t do that when you’re a juror. Reason 1 – You’re watching the films with the filmmakers… and for some ungodly reason, you always happen to be sitting across the aisle from the director of that short with five minutes of straight cow milking. (It’s a metaphor!)… Yeah, I get it. Reason 2 – If that one turns out to be brilliant, you can’t be the tool in the jury room that can’t quite remember what happened from minutes 2-14.

For the most part, the shorts are incredible and often make me want to be a better filmmaker. Favorites included a Spanish short film called “Crash” about a husband and wife going through an emotional crisis during a game of bumper cars. A British Short called “Antonio’s Breakfast” about a teenager forced to take care of his dying father (it’s better than it sounds). An Australian horror short called “Monster” that scared the bejesus (sp?) out of the audience. I think my favorite was this little short called “Heavy Metal Drummer” about a Muslim kid who just wants to play death metal, but is forced to play drums in a smooth jazz wedding band.

So much more has happened in the last month. I will try to write over the weekend. I’ve been doing all kinds of interesting interviews. Going on cool meetings. I even went to the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Stay tuned. I’ll catch up. Happy Cinco De Mayo.