An Analysis of Shorts, and Their Anthologies

Billion Euro House

The Billion Euro House is a short film from Dublin, Ireland and was directed by Alec Moore. It is a micro documentary / artist statement piece for and of Frank Buckley’s Billion Euro House project where he has, as the project title indicates, built a house out of shredded currency.

While I am used to people speaking with Irish accents, I would advise those that are not to watch this video through a second time to be sure they caught everything. A single watch takes about two and a half minutes, so watching it twice is no bother.

There is a fair amount happening right off in this ,from the first second. The music cue hits first, then the image of coins on this long metal sticks – they appear from the angle to be the bottom of a clock perhaps. The freeze frame of this is rather nice actually, and would make a nice photograph.

From there the image does a pan across these coins, where the ones closest to the middle of the frame are a bit out of focus, where the ones around the top edge are more in focus. I think that this helps make the pan seem very fluid, in that the in-focus parts act as a central point for the coins to appear to “swing” from during the pan.

Then Frank starts to speak, saying “I had my own difficulties at the time”, before it cuts to his face for the rest of the voice over. I think this was very purposefully done, as money is a common problem that many people have to deal with, which gives the audience an automatic in, while also letting them emphasis with Frank before ever seeing him.

Abstract Coin Display, 0:03

As Frank continues to speak the camera jump cuts to several appears around the building, using a heavy amount of shallow depth of field as it does to further abstract the money, as an attempt to get the viewer to perhaps challenge their preconceived notions of what money is and does with how it is being used in this situation.

Later on, as Frank is shown building a section of wall, his voice over comments “What is the Euro? What is currency? Who gets it? What do they do with it?”. These are rather important questions at this time, as several countries are facing economical problems. People tend to think of money as this very powerful thing, but really, as Frank shows in this gallery space, is that money is only as valuable as we think it is. Belief in power is itself a powerful thing, and perhaps people should not forget that so easily.

There are however, a few pan that happen during this part of the voice over (around 1:50) that I feel go a smidgen too fast, as they are suppose to be showing a wider view of the space, but due to their speed one can hardly get a good look at anything or a sense of space in those moments. This is corrected near the end, when there is a straight on shot of one of the hallways, and another of a larger room, in the house that are used as gallery space, but still, it would have been nice to see more of the rooms.

Over all, I think it brings up some solid ideas worth thinking on.

You can find out more about the Billion Euro House on their website: http://billioneurohouse.com/

And the short film can be watched below, or on vimeo:

Cognito

Cognito is a short film from New Zealand, which was directed by Russell W.B Kirkby. It was completed with a budget of $25,000, provided by the Screen Innovation Production Fund of New Zealand. To was also sponsored by Red Bull and Vodafone.

This short film has pretty solid replay value, and I feel like there are a lot of things that might be skipped over on the first viewing due to distractions from the CGI or other animations or tech things.

Now this short film really begins with the act of defining the word “meme” – memes in this context represent a shared connection to a thing via culture, as meme’d information is completely non-biological in nature. I say non-biological instead of non-cultural, because the whole short is about the ideas of ideas and how do people know things.

I also think that the opening credits go along with this thread because it shows how we as a cultural have basically decided that these letters in this order make other words – but that the whole thing of an alphabet is really quite extraordinary and absurd all at once, because that means at some point a bunch of people had to agree on the fact that an alphabet was an agree upon representation of ideas. Then that gets into the fact that pictures are not pictures of dog or cats or anything, but of representations of dogs or cat or objects. It’s very much like that famous painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – because it’s not a pipe, it is a representation of a pipe. It just so happens that cultural has made it so that everyone looking at the image thinks it’s a pipe, which is part of the concept of representational realism.

There is a part around 1:19 where the V.O. mentions chemicals and brains signals, and if we are nothing more than databases. This bring up the two ideas between how brains work on storing memories – one that says the more often that a memories is accessed, the stronger that synapses gets and the easier it is to access that memory, then the second idea is that the more often a memory is access the more damaged it gets, sort of like how fragmentation works on a computer harddrive.

There is also a line that goes “If a tree falls in a forest, do I believe in g-d?” which is important, because it points out another part of how are brain works. If I say something like “the dog in the yard is avocado”, that does not make any sense. But it also causes the reader to pause because your brain has hit a word that is was not expecting to find. Our brains, due to our frequent use of language, have an “auto-complete” of sorts in that we expect create words to follow other certain words, and when that doesn’t happen it through off our thought patterns.

There is also the issue of subjective and objective reality at play here. At about 3:31, the V.O. talks about how they might prove that the inner world of themselves and the inner world of others in the same place – which is part of what subjective reality is. Subjective reality works by saying that everyone and everything is an extension of the same consciences, and that how much we think about something, controls how often we see that thought projected around us in the world. This is part of how the book The Secret explains the universe. Then there is objective reality, which is the “default” reality where everyone has their own souls and thoughts and they live in their separate little bubble universes inside their minds.

It’s a little bit Matrix, in the whole red pill blue pill thing, and what with the man and women in the track suits switching colors back and forth, but overall I’d say if you are interested in perceptions of reality and the philosophy behind what thought is, this will be worth your time.

You can find out more on the short film Cognito website here: http://www.cogito.net.nz/

And you can also watch this short film below on youtube:

Carving the Mountains

Carving the Mountains is a short film which was directed by Juan Rayos. It is a longboard skating video done with Madrid’s Longboard Girl Crew that has been gaining popularity in small, niche pockets of the internet.

Being that is a sports short film, particularly one focused on transmitting the feeling of longboarding’s “stoke” to the audience, there is no plot or dialogue just nice, clean cinematography and well selected musical accompaniments. Now some people really like plot and ideas and things, but there is value in the lack of a plot. This short film is attempting to convey the emotion of fun, summer days spent out skating with friends, that idea is so basic is does not need to be spelled out because the emotive response is the important one and would be muddled in an addition of words.

If this is to be viewed as a type of commercial for longboarding in general, it would be attempting to achieve “affective economics” with / or “love mark” the viewer. The idea is not to have a plot, the idea is to have an emotion and have the viewer connect so thoroughly to that emotion that they then go out and do something – in advertising’s case buy something, in this case grab your deck and your friends and go out longboarding.

This short film can be watched below on youtube. It is also available on vimeo:

The Accidental Sea is a documentary short film directed and produced by Ransom Riggs about the mostly-abandoned areas around California’s Salton Sea.

This short film depicts a brief history of the area, from how it was formed to where it is now. I uses old advertisement clips from when it used to be a place for vacationers. It seems strange to think of such a place as for vacations now, as the water is toxic, the military area is full on non-detonated explosives, and there is no electric. However, the director does say something of all of this that is very important as he does his narration; so but for the grace of g-d go the rest of us.

This is a sampling the landscape we as humans will leave behind. Our ancestors certainly left remains behind: food remains, small tools, ancient monuments, and mountains of art. But they did not leave behind what the modern age is going to leave behind: skyscrapers, rusty cars, a broken environment, and toxic water. The idea then is to see what has been done is the resent past and see what that has done to the planet, for while we can retry all we want to build energy efficient cities or prevent environmental problems, we only get so many tries before the Earth gives up on us and dies under our feet as we sleep.

This short film can be watched on youtube below:

The Trace of Salt

The Trace of Salt / La Trace du Sel is a short film which was directed by Albert Merino and was recently shown at the Athens Video Arts Festival, which ran May 20th through the 22nd. I will say that this film is a rather odd surrealist / postmodern dream and I am sure there are parts of it I did not understand completely nor understood in the vein in which the director meant for it to be contextualized.

This short film goes out to tell the story of the none-named city is depicts, the history of how the cities has come to be and where it will go. The idea of using “salt” or the idea of salt to trace this fictional history comes from the fact that salt is a very basic mineral that is important to the continuing survival of animals. There are images of large blocks of salt sitting in the middle of the streets as fish gets dragged around the sidewalks, which gives an indication towards a water heritage as most landmass has at some point in time been covered by water. Later there is even an exhibit of large, dead squids which people peruse, a kind of mockery to aquariums while also being a reminder of how in order to create something new something else is lost or modified or otherwise marginalized. Art is art because people say it is.

As for the people in animal heads, they are a kind of folklore aristocracy. Think in the style of Disney princess movies how everything is wonderful and everybody is happy and royal and all that stuff. Here the video is trying to show how that vision of the past is a falsification of truth, and thinking of the past in those terms is as an absurd a thing as believing that the aristocracy was composed of tea-drinking rabbits. In truth there were few people that had that life, and the rest were like the crabs in the library, massive swarms of people getting washed away on the whim of weather and illness.

The pomegranate of course is for humanities decent into the abyss, as soon after the consumption of the fruit, a black hole comes to take everyone away. As it is a pomegranate the regular ideas of hell and the Greek mythos come to mind, but it can also be the idea that the over consumption of goods ultimately results in the lose of either oneself to the cycle of consumerism or a lose of the stability of the city as a whole.

This short film can be watched below on vimeo:

Electronic Performers

Electronic Performers is an animated music short film which was directed by Arnaud Ganzerli, Laurent Bourdoiseau, and Jérôme Blanquet in 2004 as a DVD extra for the musical duo Air’s CD “Talkie Walkie”.

There is a bunch of stuff going on in this short film visual. The wire-frames build up from single lines into much more complex shapes and ideas. It is a mix of late Wassily Kandinsky paintings, the graphic style of the video game Rez, and a dash of The Imagery Foundation. All, of course, set to the music of Air.

Beyond the mere style of the images though is what the wire-frames show. It starts with tiny cells, build up to chromosomes, and then whole body’s systems of nerves and blood veins; all sorts of human anatomy shown in its tiniest form. The title of this short film is Electronic Performers and that is what humans really are. For all the things we do and say and feel, everything is neurons and energy charges. That is part of why people should wear rubber shoes in thunderstorms because life is a natural conductor of electricity. People like music and sound waves and things because it appeals to our physical being, it is part of why people like to dance to music – to feel the music better and it interact with it. The reason it all starts with a single line, a single sound is because that is how life was built. Big bangs probably make big sounds after all, and the universe was built out of a speck of dust because a whole universe can fit into a speck of dust. All our little tiny bits of cells and nerves and bits of things that make like work are their own universe so removed from anything we really know, and yet it give us the ability to live. Any sufficiently developed technology looks a lot like magic, and life is the best magic trick of them all.

This short film can be watched on the Canadian Channel Moviola below:

http://www.movieola.ca/video_streaming.php?id=03725001

Anabafey

Anabafey is an environmental short film which was directed by Dominique Duport in 2008. It was shown at the 21es Rencontres Cinéma-Nature in Dompierre-sur-Besbre France.

The plot here is very simple: man crushes leaves, more leaves come back to avenge the fallen. But that anthropomorphizing of nature is rather important. Nature is, as shown in the film, composed of various bugs and animals or plants which are much smaller than us. However we fail to see all of these things because they are so small, yet they are what help to make the world we live on inhabitable. When people litter or damage planets they are also damaging themselves. If too much damage is caused to forest or oceans humans will dies because there will not be an equal exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen in order for the balance of life to be maintained. Humans when they are damaging nature are also killing themselves.

An excerpt of this short film can be seen below: