The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Summer 2020 Short Film Festival – Films 3 and 4: “The Red Carpet” and “I Feel”

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Summer 2020 Short Film Festival continues with films 3 and 4 (of 10) in the festival: “The Red Carpet” (2018), which was directed by Richard Griffin, and “I Feel” (2017). The latter work was directed by Steve Blackwood. The connection between these witty and hilarious gems are their shared genre: Comedy. In a related note, this will be the first of two of these related categorical pairings in this festival.

As promised, the festival continues with:

Film 3: “The Red Carpet”

Cast information:

Directed and Edited by Richard Griffin

Written and Produced by Lenny Schwartz

Starring: Anthony Gaudette, Sarah Reed, Geoff White, Lee Rush, Dan Martin, Laura Minadeo, Graham Stokes, Bill Pett, Jim Kelly, Erin Archer.

Director of Photography: Dan Mauro

Production Designer: Margaret Wolf

Art Director: Angela Shulman

Assistant Director: Nat Sylva.

Plot:

When a young boxer suffers from a near-fatal hit in the ring, his slow struggle back to glory will fill you with hope and a promise of a new tomorrow. “The Red Carpet” is a movie for anyone who wants to know the true meaning of the nature of the human spirit, and what it means to be a hero.

Color.

Runtime: 4 min. 15 sec.

Contains profanity.

Film 4: “I Feel”

Summary:

A mockumentary about a couples therapy session gone wrong.

Cast:

Director: Steve Blackwood.

Writers: Karen Blackwood, Steve Blackwood.

Starring: Elle Matarazzo, Jeremy Labrie, Marty Smith, Marybeth Paul.

Music: Mathew Solomon.

Editor: Chris Esper.

Cinematography: Chris Esper.

Produced by: Steve Blackwood, Chris Esper.

Sonic Cinema review of “I Feel”:

http://sonic-cinema.com/movie/i-feel-short/?fbclid=IwAR0zV1_BbfNCEgHqaFxZVYyejUT3onA_5j34IqUyVZQ5C0ixRFcg2ZfVeZE

Color.

Runtime: 9 min. 53 sec.

*All films included in this festival are shown with the kind permission of the filmmakers.

 

Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams’ Summer 2020 Short Film Festival: Films 1 and 2 (“Yesteryear” and “Imposter”)

By Andrew Buckner

The Andrew Buckner/ AWordofDreams Summer 2020 Short Film Festival has commenced!

The idea behind this online festival will be to present two films each day, with a shared filmmaking crew member or narrative link to each other, for five days straight. This online festival will begin anew roughly every three months with ten more short films (all under forty-five minutes and in any genre, style and from any year). Each short film will be screened at AWordofDreams and kept on the site for the foreseeable future. 

The first day of this originating festival, August 8th of 2020, will be a Chris Esper double bill! We will be including screeners to his wonderful, thought-provoking short films “Yesteryear” (2020) and “Imposter” (2018).

As promised, here is a poster, general information, director’s statement and a screener link for each of Mr. Esper’s films:

Film 1: “Yesteryear”

Summary: “A visual documentary about the value of home movies through the eyes of those who filmed their valuable memories.” – Chris Esper

Director’s Statement: “With the recent pandemic causing unrest, many are turning to their memories as and nostalgia as a source of comfort. It could be a video or a photo. Whatever the case may be, these precious moments are a reminder of what is beautiful about life in a world of uncertainty.

This was the inspiration behind ‘Yesteryear’. I was initially in pre-production on another short film. However, amid the pandemic, I had to postpone production. This lead to me eventually coming across my home movies and concerting them. I was amazed by the storytelling home movies can possess. From there, I put out a call to folks in my circle who were kind enough to release their memories for this project. Two months and fifteen hours later, ‘Yesteryear’ was completed.

My goal was to show that everyone’s life has a story. With that story, there is a slew of memories that can be unforgettable. The documentation of these is very important in preserving what’s important.”

Color.

Runtime: 13 min. 52 sec.

Film 2: “Imposter”

Summary: “A silent drama that visually represents the inner struggles of suffering from anxiety.” – Chris Esper

Additional Information/ Director’s Statement: “According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the US, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. I am among these 40 million adults.

As a filmmaker, I enjoy telling personal stories about subjects that are close to my heart while putting a spin on that subject. “Imposter” is easily my most personal film to date. I have always felt that anxiety was a silent disorder that many can feel, but others can’t see and nor do we ever understand it. This is why I chose to make it as a silent film. For many, anxiety is different. “Imposter” was my way of showing how anxiety, particularly the idea of Imposter Syndrome, can be very real to some and how many are suffering around us that we don’t realize. We suffer quietly and often feel trapped or feel like prisoners of our thoughts. That is what “Imposter” is ultimately about in its themes.”

Color.

Runtime: 9 min. 53 sec.

*All screeners included in this festival are incorporated with the kind permission of the filmmaker(s).

Andrew Buckner Announces AWordofDreams’ Seasonal Short Film Festival

By Andrew Buckner

Submissions are now being accepted for the first ever Andrew Buckner/AWORDOFDREAMS Seasonal Short Film Festival!

Here is some basic information about the festival:

The festival will be held, as the title suggests, once every season (approximately every three months).

Entries will be accepted in any genre and in any style.

The submissions for this season, Summer 2020, will run from today (August 3rd) until 11:59 p.m. on August 17th.

Submissions are free. Please send submissions in the form of a Vimeo or YouTube link. Submissions can be completed any year, not just 2020, and are acceptable in any genre. For purposes of this festival, the project submitted must not run any longer than forty-five minutes. Please verify if this is your debut film and if you are a local (Ohio) filmmaker when submitting. Multiple submissions (more than one film per director) are welcome. Please make sure your film is not bound to festival agreements in any other festival where it cannot be screened at AWORDOFDREAMS.com. Directors please make sure to give AWORDOFDREAMS express permission to showcase your film at the festival.

The films selected and the filmmakers behind them will have AWordofDreams’ permission to use AWordofDreams’ logo on their respective film poster, for each film shown at the festival, as a respective nominee/ winner. They can also do so in any future trailer for the selected film.

Please send submissions to Andrew Buckner’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/andrew.buckner.3, via Messenger. 

I will be accepting 15 short films total per festival.

Thanks for your time and good luck to all submitters!

“Salvation” – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Stylishly and strikingly directed by Gabrielle Rosson, “Salvation” (2020) brilliantly captures the look and feel of its summer of 1957 setting. Based an original script entitled “Fink” by actor Kris Salvi, the twelve-minute short film never wavers as a masterclass in elegant Martin Scorsese-like mood. Briskly paced and fluently entertaining, the project benefits from the natural on-screen chemistry, likability, and overall marvelous performances from leads Justin Thibault (as Santo) and Salvi (as Salvatore). Further benefitted by often cryptic dialogue, especially in the masterfully done diner sequences which take up the bulk of the effort, Thibault and Salvi command every bit they are in together.

The plot revolves around the consequences of a grim past affecting the present state of long-time friends Salvatore and Santo. Rosson’s rich screenplay takes what could have been a relatively straightforward narrative and gives it intimacy, depth, and complexity. The endeavor never loses its eye on the central figures. Best of all, it smartly develops Salvatore and Santo in a largely banter-driven manner. It is one which is, like the entirety of the attempt, both slick and engaging.

What also helps the work become so magnificent and robust is the colorful, eye-popping cinematography by Manx Magyar. Additionally, Ian Rashkin’s music is superb. It suits the smooth attitude of the exercise terrifically well. Michael Hansen and Rosson’s editing is pitch perfect. The same can be said of Kimmi Monteiro’s set decoration. The fleeting turns from Paul Kandarian as Ciro and Sarah Morse as Bambi are just as effective. The opening, especially the early black and white portion which perfectly reflects the decade appropriate flair of the narrative, and concluding credits are visually remarkable bookends to the undertaking. What is just as noteworthy is the climax of the venture. It is beautiful and violent in equal measure.

In turn, “Salvation” is classy, sophisticated, and brooding. It is a bullseye of talent in front of and behind the camera. Like Rosson’s previous brief picture, “Being Kris Salvi” (2020), it stands as one of the greatest narratives of its type of the year. Similarly, it continues to establish Rosson as a fantastic moviemaker with a firm grasp of the medium. “Salvation” is highly recommended viewing.

“Undercover Vice: Strapped for Danger Part 2” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

The world is in desperate need of laughter in our increasingly bleak times. Director Richard Griffin and screenwriter Duncan Pflaster provide just that with their latest collaborative effort: the rapid-fire hilarious Undercover Vice: Strapped for Danger Part 2 (2020). Griffin’s latest feature is on par with the massively entertaining original entry in this series, Strapped for Danger (2017), in every way. I cannot recall a single joke in the brisk 88-minute runtime of Undercover Vice that doesn’t land with either a smirk, a chuckle or a slew of knee-slapping guffaws. Even the quieter sight gags, such as one clever moment that utilizes a water cooler at twenty-six minutes into the work, are effective and well-done.

As has become a trademark with Griffin films, the piece has numerous jokes pointed at the private lives of Republicans. While this attribute is successful enough to add a personal political point-of-view to the piece, the endeavor does not linger too long on these bits. It simply adds its own perspective, as is the right of every artist, and moves forward with the tale. In an age where subtly seems to be a forgotten art, such actions are evermore admirable.

What is just as worthy of respect is that there is never a bitter flash in the entirety of the production. There are a few dramatic instances. But they play out in a manner which heightens the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, joyously campy quality of the affair. A subplot involving a central figure getting his grandfather out of a nursing home is where many of these touches are mechanized. Regardless, the unabashedly quirky tone of the picture is never broken.

The plot involves two police officers, Andy (Sean Brown) and Kevin (Chris Fisher), who pose as porn stars to stop a ring of corruption involving a local politician. Pflaster gives this story life with dialogue that is endlessly smart and witty. Furthermore, there is an enviably quick and efficient pace throughout the entirety of the silver screen opus. This is largely due to Griffin’s masterful editing. There not a single unnecessary or overlong scene in the production. Such measures greatly compliment the jovial atmosphere of the project.

What also helps this matter is that every performance herein is gleefully pitch perfect. Brown and Fisher are brilliant with their endearing lead depictions. Sarah Reed is fantastic as Zooey. The same can be said of the respective turns of Sissy O’ Hara as Sister Dymphna and Samantha Acampora as Rebecca. Johnny Sederquist is always enjoyable as the delightfully named Pinata Debris.

Undercover Vice is bigger and grander than its predecessor. Still, its wonderfully intimate with just the right amount of character focus. Every frame is a visual feast for the eye. This is a courtesy of the marvelous, colorful cinematography from John Mosetich. It is as just as much a sonic smorgasbord with some truly excellent musical selections peppering the undertaking. This is especially noteworthy during the superbly constructed end credits. Yet, Griffin’s exercise is just as brilliant in sections such as the near two-minute opener of the chronicle. This sequence uses only voiceover dialogue to describe what is transpiring and the names of those participating in the article.

These elements come together to craft another inspired and dazzling masterpiece in Griffin’s cinematic canon. Undercover Vice is one of the funniest flicks in years. It is also one of 2020’s top-tier movies. Griffin has crafted another triumph of independent storytelling via the visual medium. Strapped for Danger Part 2 is a must-see.

The 10 Best Short Films of 2020 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*The inclusion of the short films on this list is based on the criteria of a 2020 release date.

10. “The Never Was”
Director: Mike Messier.

9. “Waffle”
Director: Carlyn Hudson.

8. “Dear Guest”
Director: Megan Freels Johnston.

7. “Thankless”
Director: Mark Maille.

6. “Wives of the Skies”
Director: Honey Lauren.

5. “Stuck”
Director: Steve Blackwood.

4. “The Dirty Burg”
Director: John Papp.

3. “Being Kris Salvi”
Director: Gabrielle Rosson.

2. “Fire (Pozar)”
Director: David Lynch.

1. “Yesteryear”
Director: Chris Esper.

Runner-Up:

“The Onlookers and Him”
Directors: Susruta Mukherjee, Saswata Mukherjee.

The 15 Best Albums and EPs of 2020 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

15. Molocular Meditation by Jan St. Werner

14. Versus (EP) by Jonezen

13. After Hours by The Weeknd

12. Mystic by Mackenzie Nicole

11. My Brother’s Keeper by Swifty McVay, Kuniva

10. The Allegory by Royce Da 5’9

9. EnterFear by Tech N9ne

8. Guided Meditations (EP) by RZA

7. Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn

6. RTJ4 by Run the Jewels

5. Gorilla Twins by Ill Bill, Nems

4. No Hermono by Sean Strange

3. Loud Is Not Enough by Public Enemy

2. All My Heroes Are Dead by R.A. the Rugged Man

1. Music to Be Murdered By by Eminem

Runner-up:

Your Birthday’s Cancelled by Iron Wigs

“Stuck”(2020) – (Short Film Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Director Steve Blackwood’s fourteen-minute short film, “Stuck” (2020)”, is an all-around clever and well-done comedy. It finds a plethora of successful laughs and a subtle undermining of heart amid its engrossing premise.

Such concerns the goings-on of George (Blackwood) and Helen Simon (Sandy Bainum). They are a couple from New York, employed in advertising, who are thrust into a situation of dire emergency. The duo bought a machine of an erotic nature. It is one meant to enhance their relationship. This is as well as their routine lives. Yet, when the inebriated young delivery guy, Finn (Max Schochet), passes out and becomes unmovably entangled in said device during its installation, the scenario becomes more than a little nerve-racking for the pair. Not only is this because they are unaware of how to get Finn out of the gadget, but also because their overly judgmental friends are on their way for dinner.

The script, from Blackwood and David Susman, does a fine job of telling this tale in an engaging, hysterical, and always credible fashion. It develops the all-too-relatable characters of George and Helen in an equally organic and satisfying manner. This is often through the knee-slapping banter between the team. Blackwood and Susman keep the pace brisk throughout the endeavor. There is not a wasted frame in the storytelling department. Moreover, the humor is successful and witty. The project gets funnier as it goes along. This is with it becoming even more effective in the second half of the production. Blackwood and Susman’s narrative also weave a nice bit of dramatic symbolism with the title word involving George and Helen themselves near the finale.

What also works in the undertaking is the cheery, sophisticated, and stylish opening and closing credit sequences. They beautifully echo the overall tone of the effort. The animation used in these moments is outstanding. Furthermore, the performances are pitch perfect. Blackwood, Bainum and Schochet are excellent in their respective turns. The cinematography is vibrant, and the musical bits are just as good. Blackwood’s behind the camera control of the venture is sharp.

In turn, “Stuck” is masterful on all accounts. It is one of the best and most uproarious brief pieces I have seen all year. I highly recommend it.

Press Release: Andrew Buckner Releases “12 Original Beats” and More

 

Filmmaker, author and musician Andrew Buckner, under the name Buckner, unleashed a sonic smorgasbord over the weekend. On Friday, he unveiled his second full-length album, 12 Original Beats (2020). On the same day he released his third album and the sequel to the aforementioned project, 12 More Original Beats (2020). As the title suggests, these brisk, but ambitious and musically varied, efforts are all grooves of Buckner’s own invention.

On Saturday, he unveiled The Poetry Rap EP (2020). This six-track project features Buckner rapping a half-a-dozen different sonnets from his book of poetry A Call to Life, A Cry of Pain (2013). The rhymes are married to more unique sounds created by Buckner.

On Sunday, he published another similar collection to his 12 Original Beats series. It is called 22 New Buckner Beats (2020). The 14-minute album showcases Buckner’s continued growth via sound. 

Last week, Buckner also showed the world his extra short film, “Quarter: A 0.3 Second Short Film (2020)”. The endeavor is a black and white shot of a twenty-five cent piece. Containing a quick flash of a title and end credits sequence, the exercise is meant to show how quickly money leaves the hands of hard and long-working individuals. It is meant to be one of, if not the, shortest short films ever conceived. 

The YouTube links to all of the above-stated productions can be found above.