Saturday, August 15, 2020

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: Black Lives Matter: A Short Experimental Film

Black Lives Matter: A Short Experimental Film by Rosella Joseph

Running Time: 9 minutes
From 2019
Documentary, Experimental 

Six black women dancers interpret the struggles of racism and police brutality through there movements.




Director's Bio:

My name is Rosella Joseph and I currently attend University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and I am currently pursuing a major in film making.

Director's Statement:

I hope to change my world with my films.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: Charlie and the Empty Factories

Charlie and the Empty Factories by J. Anthony Ramos
Running Time: 4 minutes
From 2019

Charlie never bought into that, The World is Ending crap, was never afraid of it, but then it did end, he survived, and it suuuuucks. 

Director's Bio:

J. Anthony Ramos (you can call him “Tony”) was born and raised in Southeastern WI. He is an actor, writer, and director who enjoys all film genres, Sci-Fi and Horror in particular. He looks forward to continuing to grow as a storyteller.

Director's Statement:

Having a conversation about the end of world as we know it, I mentioned to my friend, that if it ever did go down, I’d hope I would go quick, and not survive whatever cataclysm ended all civilization. He asked me why, and I told him that because with my luck, I'd be the only one to survive and that would suck. I also added that instead of being grateful to have survived, I’d most likely be a very angry, bitter person, who'd probably turn a little crazy with no one around to talk to. This conversation created Charlie in, Charlie and the Empty Factories.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: dark_net

dark_net by Tom Marshall
United Kingdom 
Running Time: 13 Minutes
From 2015
Dark Comedy

Alan (Johnny Vegas) searches for answers in all the wrong places and this time he thinks he's found them...on the internet in the form of a highly trained deadly assassin. But he's about to learn the true price of entering the 'dark_net'.

Tom Marshall previously won Best Film in 2008 for bigboy_74, and he screened Happy Clapper at our 2011 festival. He recently directed episodes of Netflix' Space Force. 

IMDb listing


Director Bio:

Tom Marshall grew up in the Northeast town of Middlesbrough and began making short films with his friends in college. He went on to study TV & Film Production at Teesside University.

In 2007 Tom’s self funded short film ‘bigboy_74' won the BBC New Talent Award, the Think Sync Film Award, ‘Best Film’ & ‘Best Director’ at Milwaukee Short film Festival and later broadcast on BBC 3. It was made on a budget of £300.

In 2008 he was named a ‘Star of Tomorrow’ by Screen International magazine as well as being nominated for a 4Talent Award in the Best Director category.

Tom’s short film ‘Happy Clapper’ premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and is currently being developed into a feature film with funding from Northern Film and Media.

For his TV work Tom has directed 5 episodes of the highly acclaimed and highly controversial comedy 'London Irish' for channel 4 and Company Pictures.

The Independent called it “not only edgy, but most importantly, very, very funny”

He also directed the second series of 'Drifters’ for Bwark Productions and is currently directing 6 episodes of a brand new E4 comedy called 'Chewing Gum'.

Director Statement:

'dark_net' is a completely ungoverned arm of the internet, a "gateway into the abyss, where anything can be bought and sold." When I first read about this 'dark side of the web', I was particularly drawn to the reports of contract killers offering there services to anyone with a bank card. It filled me full of questions and ideas and prompted me to think about how the fantasy would measure up to the reality. What fascinated me most was the idea that a man as 'geeky' and 'normal' as our central protagonist 'Alan' (Johnny Vegas) could get embroiled in a world so deadly.

The idea lent itself perfectly to indulge my passion for stylized, fast paced, action packed and ultra cinematic film-making, yet providing me with the opportunity to undercut it in a very comedic, tongue in cheek and British way! Its a film that wears its influences on it's sleeve. Edgar Wright, Nicolas Winding Refn, Luc Besson and Michael Bay (seriously!) have all had a big influence on me, and this film is very much a homage to all those great directors and their work.

The film was made on a shoestring budget using a lot of great local cast and crew from the north east. After a few years directing TV, this film was about making something I wanted to make just for the joy of it. About taking time to craft something that felt really authored and cinematic. However, this came with it's own challenges as we were trying to make something that felt big on a very small budget. But this was helped hugely by the fact we had the amazing locations we did, one of which was actually the inspiration for the skyline in Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner'. As well as locations, our leading man also helped bring a certain amount of production value! But alongside the amazing Johnny Vegas, there is also some new talent on show, like Craig Lines (Barry) for instance, a man who we discovered in a local gym and who had never acted professionally in his life.

Above all, I want people who watch the film to laugh and be entertained. However, 'dark_net' is a passing comment on the dangers of a world where the first solution to a problem is Google and where having Facebook friends is more important than having real ones. 'dark_net' is a warning that sometimes buying a bunch of flowers is probably better than hiring a hitman.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: The Trap

The Trap by Dick Grunert
Los Angeles 
Running Time: 6 minutes
From 2015
Comedy/ Horror/ Sci-Fi

A man invites his friend over one night to show off his latest invention: a trap for catching aliens.


Director's Bio:

Dick Grunert was born on April 7, 1974 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. He is known for his work as a writer on Adventure Time (2010), script coordinator on The Boondocks (2005) and the writer on House Call (2014).

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!!

I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! by Charlie Tyrell
Ontario, Canada 
Running Time: 13 minutes
From 2015

In the late seventies David Boswell created Reid Fleming, the World’s Toughest Milkman, a comic book anti-hero and counter culture icon. By the following decade, Warner Brothers was preparing a Hollywood feature film. Now, over 30 years later, the character is still mired in contractual limbo, or development hell. 

Narrated by Academy Award-Winner Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense), I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! combines stop motion animations with interviews from Boswell, his Hollywood friends, and fans as they discuss the enduring appeal of the World’s Toughest Milkman.






Director's Bio:

Charlie Tyrell is a Torontonian filmmaker and the New Year's Baby of 1988. His work has screened internationally at such festivals as Sundance, SXSW, Hot Docs, Tribeca, Nashville Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Raindance, Brooklyn Film Festival and many more. His latest short doc, My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes premiered at Sund
ance 2018 and went on to win best Documentary Short at Cinema Eye Honors, the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at SXSW 2018, TIFF Canada's Top Ten 2019 and was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2019.

Charlie's work often combines live action footage with stop motion and 2D animation. He also likes skateboarding and swore he would never eat another hot dog until the Blue Jays win the World Series.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: A Dubious Night

A Dubious Night by Nelson Tony Oliveras
Running Time: 16 minutes
From 2015

At a local tavern, unhappy citizens share their hopes and dreams and later become aware they have never left their hometown. Which triggers debates and conspiracy theories.



Director's Bio:

Nelson Oliveras has had an interest in filmmaking since he was very young.

He has directed and produced many short films in the past decade.

He is currently involved in two local feature film productions and he is looking forward to step back behind the camera to direct his two upcoming short films.

Friday, August 14, 2020

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: Ready to Go

Ready to Go by Lynda Reiss
Running Time: 10 minutes
From 2018

Lance Mitchell is taking his cat to be put down. As he and Missy make their weary way to the vet, Lance is keen to work over the thoughts he has on the subject. Cornering an old woman on the bus, Lance relates a story he's read about a man who, fearing knowledge of impending death, has planned to kill himself impulsively by stashing a handgun in his kitchen cupboard. But you shouldn't believe everything you read in the paper. Having successfully had Missy put to sleep, Lance returns home, makes a cup of tea. A handgun lays next to his ginger snaps.


Director's Bio:

Lynda has worked on film and television in American since 1986. In 2003 She moved to the Isle of Man and opened an American Prop House to facilitate the UK and IOM film industries. She was involved in several visiting productions and also Production Designed several Mannin Shorts projects here on island. 

She first directed theatre, with a well-received ‘Steel Magnolias’ run on the Isle of Man. Having worked with some legendary directors as Sam Mendes, Gus Van Sant, Norman Jewison, Lynda has had an amazing directorial education and hopes to bring that knowledge to this project. She has worked on such memorable shows as American Beauty, Cruel Intentions, American History X, True Detective and Stranger Things.

Director's Statement:

Next to the director and writer, no one knows the script as well as the Prop Master. We work with story and create back story. We work with the actors, and collaborate closely with every creative department head. It feels to me a smooth natural progression from Prop Master to Director.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: Gorilla

Gorilla by Tibo Pinsard
Running Time: 15 minutes
From 2016

Hollywood, 1947. Henry Corso performs as a costumed gorilla on horror movies and adventure movies. For Jungle Jenna, he must terrorize the leading actress lost in a cardboard jungle scenery. But scaring the woman he desires is going to be particularly tricky for the gorilla man.

Director's Bio:

Darrowan Prod co-founder, producer, filmmaker and journalist, Tibo Pinsard discovered art when he went to Dijon Fine Arts School. He was a fellow of very different and well-known artists such as painter Yan Pei-Ming and body artist Orlan. After a couple of years parodying video games with pictures and films, Tibo Pinsard went for fiction in 2008. He wrote and directed "Island", a short film, starring Alysson Paradis, Simon Charasson and Thierry Frémont. The short tackles one of his favorite topics: the lack of communication between people.

In 2012 he directed a new fiction, "Le Dernier Voyage d'Emile" (The Last Trip of Emile), a personal tribute to the king of burlesque Buster Keaton. Tibo is also in documentaries, like "La Reine du Meix " (The Queen of Meix) or "The Stooges Guide To Eternity" – produced by Darrowan Prod - on the legendary proto-punk band Iggy Pop founded.

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: The Quilting Queen

The Quilting Queen by Mark Winter
Milwaukee, WI (MKE Premiere)
Running Time: 10 minutes
From 2016

An unexpected artist and their personal journey of self discovery and their race against time.

Director Bio:

Mark Winter was born and raised on Milwaukee’s south side, and still calls Milwaukee home. After starting and raising a family early in life, Mark decided to pursue his creative aspirations by entering film school at age 46. “The first half of my life, I did what I had to do. The second half of my life, I’m doing what I want to do!”

Director Statement:

Being raised in the Midwest, I developed an eye for the uniqueness of everyday life. My goal as a storyteller is to share a perspective with the audience that they may not have considered on their own.

That’s why the story of “The Quilting Queen” was so attractive to me. It’s more than a story of overcoming obstacles. It’s really about the attitude it takes to live a fulfilled life by being open to recognize and accept it’s opportunities unconditionally.

My goal was to get the audience to acknowledge the stereo types we all carry and hopefully make a self-assessment of how we look at our world around us

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: the good boy

the good boy by A. L. Lee
New York 
Running Time: 15 minutes
From 2016

A morality tale, "the good boy" is a film about a young boxer who accepts a challenge to fight a brute of a man only to discover his opponent has the mental capacity of a five year old. This is an unflinching look at what happens when you feel honor bound to doing something you know is morally wrong. "the good boy" is about the decisions we make and living with their consequences.




Director's Bio:

A. L. Lee received an MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University. Her screenplay "The Legend of Pig-Eye", which is an adaptation of the short story with the same title by Rick Bass, won the top prize in the Columbia University Screenwriting Awards.

She originally trained as a violinist at the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory.

She live in New York City with her husband, two sons and two cats.

Director Statement

I'd been studying the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski (Double Life of Veronique, Dekalog, Blue, White Red) when I was writing "the good boy". Watching those masterpieces, you can't help but think about moral dilemmas. Why do people knowingly decide to do something that they know is morally wrong?

I started to watch my own actions and the actions of my friends. I realized that it's easy for most people to do the right thing if they believe they don't have much at stake. But it's just as easy for people to convince themselves that what's at stake is more than what they're willing to pay. Honor, loyalty, money, religion and even love are used on micro and global levels to justify our actions; even actions we know are morally abhorrent.

For Cal, the young boxer, what's at stake is his deal with Ray. "No losin', no forfeitin'." He feels honor bound to Ray. The stake for Quinny is more tragic because what he wants is the love and respect of his step-father and the patrons of their bar. I wanted to explore the consequence of a room full of people, one after another, deciding to do what they know is morally wrong and how they justify their decisions to themselves. 


DisOrient Film Festival
Eugene, Oregon
April 19, 2015
World Premiere
Best Cinematography

WorldFest Houston International Film Festival
Houston, TX
Gold Remi for Original Story

DC Asian Pacific Film Festival
East Coast

The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival
Brooklyn, NY
May 13, 2015
New York

Kaliber35 Munich International Film Festival
Munich, German
June 19, 2015
European Premiere

WILDsound Film Festival
Toronto, Canada
June 25, 2015
Canadian Premiere 

Best Film, Best Overall Acting, Best Cinematography
Periphery of the Empire
Caserta, Italy
July 24, 2015

Louisville's International Festivals of Film
Louisville, Kentucky
October 1, 2015

Commffest Global Community Film Festival
Toronto, Canada
September 23, 2015

Roma Creative Contest
Rome, Italy

First Glance Film Festival, Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
October 23, 2015

Visionaria Festival
Siena, Italy

Mexico City, Mexico
November 2, 2015
Mexico Premiere

SNOB Film Festival
Concord, NH
February 21, 2015

December 1, 2015
South America

Sydney World Film Festival
Sydney, Australia
December 25, 2015

College Town Film Festival, 2015
College Town, PA
March 16, 2016

Film Festival of Castilla-la Mancha ® FECICAM
Castilla-la Mancha, Spain
March 1, 2016 


Ouchy Film Festival, 2016
Lausanne, Switzerland

OvertimeFilms 2016

Mexicali (Baja California) Mexico
March 17, 2016

Kansas City Film Festival
Kansas City, Missouri
April 14, 2016

2020 Best Of Covid Edition Film: Screen: Righter

Screen: Righter by T.C. De Witt
Running Time: 8 minutes
From 2016

On June 10th, Chad Halvorsen brought together a team of Firmament alum and some new friends for the 2016 Milwaukee 48 Hour film Project. What followed was a weekend of indie romance, Michael Bay hero shots, slow-mo running, and cre-a-tivity!
This is "Screen: Righter".

Our required elements:
Genre - Romance or Fable
Character - Luke or Laura Coppersmith, retired circus performer
Prop - a painting or photo of a deceased relative
Line of Dialogue - "What's the big idea?"

Director's Bio:

T.C. De Witt is a multi-awarded writer/director/actor originally from Wisconsin and now based in Los Angeles. His life has been devoted to the arts since he was a child. He's been a stage performer, playwright, stand-up comic, film and television actor, radio DJ, published author, recorded musician, and comic writer/illustrator. While beginning his career on the stag
e as a playwright and stand-up, he eventually moved into screenwriting and film & television production and has been thriving for nearly a decade. His films have screened at numerous festivals around the world garnering many accolades both in the States and internationally. His success include 5 Best Director Awards, 10 Best Picture Winners, 5 Audience Choice Awards, and a trio of Best Writing awards. He regularly offers his skills to several YouTube partners, Production studios in Los Angeles and the Midwest, and has been a script consultant and ghostwriter on over 60 production just in 2017 so far.

He has worked in Los Angeles since 2007, but he always finds his way back to Wisconsin. As a founding member of Firmament Films, a Madison based production company, as well as a co-founder of [REDACTED] Media out of Milwaukee, T.C. knows Wisconsin and the Midwest to be the best source of creativity, dedication, and an underrepresented wellspring of talent for storytelling through film, and he is proud to continue to work out of Milwaukee with [REDACTED] Media and Wisconsin talent.