A grocery store clerk’s boyfriend suddenly dies, and she keeps their love alive by taking his body to the store’s cooler. A dutiful young man is fated to maintain the balance of the world, and his mischievous sister is determined to upset it. These are the plots of two of the films chosen as finalists in the first-ever Shot On RED Film Festival, taking place today and tomorrow in Hollywood. Chicago-based filmmaker Aemilia Scott’s 22-minute short Best If Used By is a not-so-tragic tale of a young woman named Maggie, whose life takes a dramatic turn when her boyfriend Max dies. But for Maggie, death isn’t necessarily a deal breaker when it comes to love. Milwaukee-based filmmaker and animator John Roberts’s 13:30 The Wheel is a whimsical fantasy set in an alternate steampunk world. Both films, shot in 4K video, bring together the narrative and visual elements that result in a rich cinematic experience.
BEST IF USED BY
Synopsis When Maggie, a grocery store clerk, learns that her boyfriend Max has died, she copes by stealing his body and taking it to the store’s cooler.
“I like to think that no situation is too grave for a joke,” says Chicago-based actress and writer Aemilia Scott, who can now add filmmaker to her list of accomplishments. Her first short film does indeed administer a dose of black humor. But Scott, who has been writing and performing sketch comedy for much of the past nine years, says she wanted “to use film to explore subjects of a complexity and length that you can’t quite hit in a short sketch.” She does just that in Best If Used By: As Maggie and Max start their new refrigerated lives together, we learn that good love never dies. “The idea came to me out of the blue,” says Scott. “I was visiting an old Victorian house in Chicago and someone said, ‘Do you know why the doors to the living room are always so wide in old houses? So you can get a casket in and out easily.’ That made me think about the way our relationship to death has changed in the modern age.” Trained as a photographer, Scott attended the REDucation filmmaking workshop in 2011 to learn about filmmaking. “I had the most talented production team I could have hoped for—people who wrapped work on NBC and Showtime, both in front of the camera and behind, and the very next day brought their skills over to my humble short,” she says. Because of her crew’s “totally inexplicable devotion to micro-budget independent filmmaking,” Scott was able to make her 22-minute film for $5,000.
Synopsis The tale of a dutiful young man fated to maintain the balance of the world, and his mischievous sister, who is determined to test that careful balance.
In the fantasy steampunk world of filmmaker John Roberts’s 13:30 short The Wheel, gears spin and life proceeds with clockwork precision. If the machinery controlling it all slows down, someone needs to be on hand set things right. It’s a big job, made more difficult by mischievous spirits. “One person who saw the film called the visual style ‘Seuss-punk’ instead of steampunk,” says Roberts. “The look just reminded him of a Dr. Seuss book.” The Wheel’s imaginative visual style is the result of meticulously detailed art direction and set design, as well as Roberts’s own background as an animator. Indeed, the film marks Robert's first step away from animation. Two years ago, a film he made (which he describes as a "motion-graphic novel") won top honors at the Milwaukee Film Festival, and his prize, provided by the city’s North American Camera store, was the use of a RED ONE camera for 14 days. The festival also brought him together with Ryan Plato, who had already written a script for The Wheel. While working at his day job at Milwaukee’s Independent Edit post-production house, Roberts and a crew of volunteers worked on the project. “The good thing about having my regular job, besides the paychecks, was having access to tools we needed,” says Roberts. Most of the film’s $7,000 budget went to sets and prop fabrication. “We spent two years worth of weekends on the film, about one month of which was actual shooting,” Roberts says. You can see the film's composite breakdowns here.
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