Internet video sites like YouTube have been a boon to independent filmmakers, allowing them to reach a broad audience while bypassing the roadblock of finding a distributor to place their work in movie houses across the country.
But still, there’s just nothing like seeing your own movie in a darkened theater, on a giant screen, in the company of other film lovers.
“This is really the first time many of these films are screened in this context — so many short films are seen on cell phones, on computers by just a couple people at home,” says Soozie Eastman, executive director of LFS and the driving force behind the Slam, a twice-yearly event now in its third year at the Speed.
“As a filmmaker myself, I understand there’s really not a lot of ways to get short films in front of audiences,” Eastman says. “I wanted to create an event where filmmakers actually connect with the audience … it creates a different kind of dialogue about work that would not be happening about films that otherwise would not be shown in this type of venue.”
As with every edition of the Slam, this year’s selection of eight short films are created by filmmakers with ties to the Louisville area. And unlike LFS’ annual Flyover Film Festival for feature-length works, there’s no requirement that submitted films be making their premiere at the Slam — many of the shorts have already been released online or screened at other festivals, including locally.
The event’s vibe is modeled after poetry slams and other informal artistic gatherings, Eastman says. Each screening is followed immediately by a Q&A session with the filmmakers.
That’s a significant change of pace from larger festivals that screen dozens, if not hundreds, of films back-to-back over several days, says Drew Cash, a Louisville-area native now based in Los Angeles who screened his short “Relics” at the most recent LFS Slam.
Cash had already debuted his drama, about a factory supervisor faced with the grim prospect of firing his own father, at the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival to qualify it for Oscar consideration, and at another large festival in Fort Worth, Texas.
When the time came for “Relics” to make its Kentucky “homecoming” premiere, Cash’s cinematographer on the project, local filmmaker Max Moore, suggested the Short Film Slam as a perfect alternative to larger festivals.
“The thing that kind of stuck out about the Short Film Slam, it’s just so much more intimate — it’s one evening, everybody’s there,” Cash says. “When I did the festival in Texas and the one here in L.A., they run for a week, and there are screenings all day … there’s just a ton of content out there. With the Short Film Slam, you get a greater sense of connection to the audience.”
Moore has screened works at numerous slams, ranging from music videos (the bulk of his professional work) to the short dramas “Glendower Drive,” which he described as a deeply personal piece about two young brothers, and “Door to Door,” about a con man who preys on elderly widows. And this fall’s event will feature his music video for Tyler Carter’s “Drown.”
“A lot of my work, the music videos, get millions of views online all over the world … it’s easily accessible, a click of the button, you’re good to go. The difference is, I never get to experience what it’s like to watch something I’ve made with people present in the room,” Moore explains.
“It’s a whole ’nother ballgame when you’re sitting in a packed theater with real human beings,” he continues. “It’s really about that personal connection and feeling that energy in the room … We’re all human, and as filmmakers we want to interact and feel that whole range of emotions with our audience.”
The eight films screening in November’s Slam range from drama to dark comedy, from animation to music videos. Eastman says she hesitates to say she has a favorite among the shorts, but did add that both she and Speed Museum curator of film Dean Otto, who helped in the selection process, were taken with “Pinball,” Naveen Chaubal’s drama about school bus racing and immigration issues that was shot largely at the Sportsdrome Speedway in Southern Indiana.
“When we saw it, we were both like, this is Sundance-type material,” Eastman says.
Here’s the full list of filmmakers and the works they will be screening at the Short Film Slam. Eastman adds that due to the mature subject matter of some of the films, the event is suggested for those 16 and up.
- Antonio Pantoja: “Haunted Pine Valley” (dark comedy)
- Max Moore: Tyler Carter, “Drown” (music video)
- Jennifer Howd: “Texas Annie: The Legend of the Moan Ranger” (music video)
- Naveen Chaubal: “Pinball” (drama)
- Matt Fulks: Houndmouth, “Golden Age” (music video)
- Roy Taylor: “poo” (animation)
- Derek Sepe: “Mountain Ultra Running” (documentary)
- T.M. Faversham: “203” (experimental)
- Drew Dingeldein: “Star Whale” (animation)
Tickets to the Short Film Slam are $9 for the general public, and $7 for Speed and LFS members. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, and is expected to last about 90 minutes.