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Hal Hartley and Brit Marling Anchor a Short-tacular Lineup at ShortsLab NYC

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Borderline Films’ Sean Durkin

Mike Plante, Short Film Programmer

It’s hard to truly comprehend how much the short film world has taken us by storm. “Viral video” is a dictionary term and news item. You can get a college degree by making shorts. Wes Anderson, Todd Haynes, and Lynne Ramsay started out with shorts on their way to impressive film careers. With a camera, microphone and editing program, you too can be a storyteller, joke writer or political thunderstorm. How about some advice?

To help promote and foster the world of short films, the Sundance Institute created ShortsLab, a daylong seminar of panels, screenings and discussions. With so many outlets in today’s world for the short film, the goal of each ShortsLab is to provide insight and specific case studies to show how to make a good short. The first ShortsLab for 2012 will take place in Brooklyn in June.

For a panel on storytelling, we are lucky to have three distinct writer-directors share their experiences on everything from ideas to dialogue. Ilya Chaiken‘s films are defined by her sharp, clever humor and the quirky yet realistic characters she created. Nicole Kassell forms very complex characters within a variety of divisive plots. The indie legend Hal Hartley has created such a unique style of characters and dialogue that it takes but one scene to recognize his films are recognizable based on any one scene.

The importance of collaboration is often overlooked and yet foundational to the filmmaking process – working within a group is necessary for every film. The Borderline Films team will discuss their modes of production and teamwork in shorts and such features as Afterschool and Martha Marcy May Marlene. After they create nuanced stories, they work closely with their cinematographer and editor to fully realize the vision of each film and make a personal stamp on all parts of the filmmaking.

An important facet of every film is a director’s connection with actors, so we’ve brought together three intriguing actresses to offer their insights into creating a dynamic and productive collaboration with filmmakers. Adepero Oduye took the extraordinary character in Pariah from short to feature, with different challenges in each form. Sarita Choudhury has acted in many fields, from short to television roles to independent and studio feature films, breathing life into otherwise conventional roles. Brit Marling combined acting in a lead role with both writing and producing in two features, having a hand in each part of creation.

Possibly the most fun discussion will ignite around a program designed to deliver the inside scoop on filming on the streets, subways and sidewalks of New York. Learn what you are really in for and how to survive with these veterans of filmmaking in the big city. Filmmaker Magazine editor, Scott Macaulay, has produced some of the most unique indie films of the past two generations and has become a veritable a hub of info about all things relationg to film productionbut . Cinematographer Michael Simmonds knows how to find both beauty and gritty reality from all kinds of locations. And producer Mike Ryan has more crazy production stories than the entire Internet.

Short Film Programmers will also be on hand, offering background on the Sundance Film Festival and the process of programming short films, giving real advice and dispelling some myths.

ShortsLab NYC takes place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM Rose Cinemas) on Saturday, June 16. For registration and more info:www.sundance.org/shortslab

In advance of ShortsLab: NYC on Saturday, June 16, Rooftop Films will host a screening of short films the previous day (Friday, June 15) at Open Road Rooftop (Lower East Side), 350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002. The screening is open to the public, regardless of whether they plan to attend ShortsLab: NYC the following day. Tickets to the screening are available here.

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