Spirit is a Killer: A Short Film by Joewi Verhoeven

Here’s a short film from Beijing, China directed by Joewi Verhoeven. It’s an odd and discomforting tale about a solitary writer whose fictional world is intruding upon the real world. The film is a quiet and focused examination of a writer’s creative doubts and fears. I particularly like the bit where a Chinese policeman who is a friend of the writer comes over and can’t seem to see the dead body that is perhaps a result of the unrestricted imagination of the writer. The film also has a lovely soft celluloid look even though it was shot entirely on a Canon DSLR.  Also, pay attention to the beautiful and eerie background audio.

The Living Want Me Dead: Short Horror Film by Bill Palmer

The Living Want Me Dead‘ is a short independent horror film that’s won a bunch of awards at festivals because it deserves to. I enjoyed every minute of this wild ride along with a desperate slacker as he realizes that he’s been contaminated with a substance that causes everyone within sniffing distance to want to disembowel, devour, decapitate and dismember him. He’s hounded by vomiting, mouth-foaming lunatics who simply won’t rest until he’s dead. It’s a clever commentary on the overdone zombie genre that manages somehow to be frightening and hilarious at the same time. The film was written and directed by Bill Palmer who employes techniques typically seen in independent feature films. Vimeo is full of filmmakers who want to strut their pro-quality stuff, but very few of them make anything I can watch for more than several seconds. I’m sure that director of photography Jeremy Hayward had a lot to do with this because the camera work is fluid and clear, even when following intense action and movement.

Director Palmer handles his equipment, crew and actors without letting the job overwhelm his natural instinct for telling a ripping good story and making us want to know what’s going to happen next. In fact, he made much of his own equipment, including a simple rig for filming underwater! He used water guns to shoot fake blood. I love that kind of filmmaking. And I love that he did it all without ridiculous shooting permits. He just hit the side streets with his little crew and turned the whole neighborhood into what I imagine was a hell of fun time. He has created a tight little view into a California suburb at Christmas time by littering the landscape with decorations that lend a sort of lunatic and false joy to the dark comedy and spurting blood.

So the main character, played to intense and despairing perfection by Adam Conger, tries to get away from his attackers by lying low at a friend’s house. Conger really hits his role on the money. He’s perfect as the overwhelmed slacker-type dude who’s actually fairly driven and maniacal in survival mode. But he just can’t seem to find a good way to explain the desperate situation to his friend who is played with great comic ability by Tony Nunes. I believe that during the violent proceedings in his backyard, this friend is primarily engaged with heating up a HotPocket. Needless to say, the hero’s plan for lying low does not work out very well!

Diary (2010): A Film by Tim Hetherington

Mature Content and War Footage:

This is a film by Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist who was killed yesterday in Libya. This film is his personal statement on being immersed in violence and trying to make some sense of it through the lens of journalism.

Not Every Time – DSLR Film from Yemen

This is a preview for a television show from Yemen. It’s all shot on a Canon 7D digital SLR camera by Aimen Kasem who functioned as the show’s cinematographer.  The show is directed by Sameer Al-Afeef. People are making very beautiful things with these DSLR cameras. I’ve been using one recently for my own films and appreciate the flexibility and quality that they offer. The post production work can be very challenging but the end results are often gorgeous. I like the looks of this dramatic show from Yemen. The preview stands on its own as a short film. With such high-quality equipment and editing tools available for a modest investment, it is becoming increasingly possible to see how people in different cultures approach and think about color. The fine manipulation of color in digital film is now available to any filmmaker and has become just as much a personal expression as it has long been for the painter.

See Aimen Kasem’s work on Vimeo.