Time to kick off Day 2! As the first full day of films, this set of screenings are packed with some incredible selections for everyone to see. From Adult Animation, LGBTQIA+ films and so many more, this is a day that will live up to the hype. The films listed below are just a few of the highlights of the day’s entries, but there are so many more to enjoy! If you’re able to make it in person, enjoy the show with the filmmakers and fans in attendance. If not, you’re still welcome to join in online, via BitPix. Also be on the lookout for our interview with one of the filmmakers, which will be included after the highlights!
Boomerang – A film that focuses on life during the pandemic, the team of writer/director Rylee Jean Ebsen and writer/star Sydney Steinberg bring a project that is a wild and hilarious romp that shows a family full of secrets and hang-ups as a struggling millennial is forced to move back home with her parents. While navigating the problems of her parents, she also decides to hook up, something that is further complicated by the lockdowns and social distancing suggestions. It’s heartwarming and fun, with the entire cast bringing their own hilarious and wonderful take to dealing with all of the complications of everyday life in a global emergency.
Listen To Mother – Pippa Nixon, Tom Sweet and Kelly Mizell star in this UK film from Jamie Gyngell that is an intense work of horror. It stars Nixon as a bereaved social worker sent out on a call to a rural farmhouse, only to find a young boy living there, seemingly by themselves. As things progress, they get more and more harrowing. Everyone was excellent in this film, that continues to ramp up tension in the best way.
Twin Flame – An incredible and esoteric film, Twin Flame tells the story of a young woman as she searches for her twin flame after attempting to get spiritual guidance. It’s a hard film to describe, but it’s beautiful and so engrossing. The team of director Saddiq Abubakar and writer Taylor Petracek (who also stars alongside Brittany Lewis, Irene Georgerian and Robert Douthat) all do such an excellent job of showing this excellent independent film.
Coming Out With The Help Of A Time Machine – Karan Soni, Sangeeta Agrawal, Raghuram Shetty and Trella Mebieth star in a film about coming out to a set of parents who may not be as accepting as you would hope. As Sid (Soni) attempts to tell his parents about his sexuality, he gets aid from a watch that can reset time so he can attempt it enough to get the best result he can. This is a film that takes you on a ride, emotionally. It’s bittersweet and painful, but also heartwarming and joyous. The act of coming out is such an incredible act of bravery, especially when the culture of your household doesn’t seem to be the most open. It’s such a wonderful film.
The Record – Jonathan Laksar gives us a beautiful animated film that focuses on an instrument dealer, a magical vinyl record and lost memories that reemerge while listening. With each spin of the record, more and more memories return, until the most lasting comes to the forefront. This animation style is beautiful, a shadowy, pencil-like black and white masterpiece of animation that also features Bogdan Hatisi, Emmanuel Laskar and Samuel Müller as part of the voice cast.
Today’s interview will be with Boomerang’s Rylee Ebsen, who directed and co-wrote the film. We really appreciate Rylee for taking the time to speak with us! Enjoy!
Q: Tell us more about your film. How did it come to be?
At its core, Boomerang is about complicated family relationships and how deeply funny life can be even in its most serious moments. A heartfelt, funny, timely, and relatable tale about an entire generation of people who were forced to move home and suffered arrested development. The script is based on several experiences and it was constructed with care. We mined tidbits from my own life, my co-writer Sydney Steinberg, and loved ones around us. The lockdown impacted everyone. Many of us had to juggle life’s responsibilities while also dealing with crippling fear & anxiety, wiping down groceries, navigating work & Zoom calls, etc. I did not have the 30th birthday celebration I had dreamed of, instead I felt like Little Edie in Grey Gardens sandwiched between my parents, worried the isolation would never end and that this would be my new normal. Though our specific experiences may vary, we are connected to our larger shared history of going through it together. This story is our love letter to anyone who hosted family or was hosted by family during that time, especially if that family drove you crazy… which is a lot of people! And I think that’s why it’s been so well received and why it seems to be so cathartic for viewers– it certainly was cathartic to write.
Q: What was your budget?
I would prefer not to say! Indie projects are hard to make and I respect any filmmaker who’s just trying to tell a story that’s important to them– big or small. I’m really proud of the film we made! Sometimes I think the number can give people the wrong impression about how hard or easy it is to make a short film. I’ve been directing commercials and content for ten years now and I called in a lot of favors from my trusted community (across pre pro, production, and post production) and I’m so grateful they loved the story and showed up to support me and this film. It’s difficult to get things made and I’m super proud of the talented team and Boomerang fam who came together to make this lil movie.
Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?
The feedback has been so positive and I really love that our film has sparked a lot of conversations around processing viewers’ particular lockdown experience. Most audience members seem to relate to the film and that makes me happy because it’s what we set out to do– to make people feel less alone. It might be the difficult mother/child relationship, the preserved adolescent bedroom, or the dysfunctional long term marriage, whatever it is, it’s something specific the audience connects with. I’m a big fan of therapy, having important conversations, processing trauma and growing from it. I hope this film helps people work through what we’ve all been through. As this pandemic continues to unfold, all we can do is hopefully use our gifts to give these moments meaning. And laugh. We can’t forget to laugh.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?
It can be difficult to pivot from one type of filmmaking to another. You can’t tell people what you want to do in this business, you have to show them what you can do. I’ve been a director in the commercial space for a long time, about ten years, and I absolutely love it! So many of my heroes started out in commercials and then pivoted to narrative work. I know I also want to direct film and tv, so I decided to make a comedic showpiece to help that pivot. I’ve done narrative branded content and digital series over the years, but this is my first official narrative short film since NYU (I graduated in 2013). It’s a story that came from my universe, and my voice. It’s a sample of my vision for the types of stories I want to tell, characters I want to develop, and worlds I hope to build. It can feel scary to put yourself out there with a piece that came from YOU, but I was sooo excited to dive in and make a hard comedy about dysfunctional family relationships because those are the stories I want to tell! Plus, we could all use some levity and laughter these days. Some of my favorite films are comedies about complicated life moments and I think that’s why I gravitate towards making films with a similar tone.
Q: What is next for you?
I cannot wait to direct TV! I just graduated from the Directors Guild of America’s TV shadowing program where we studied the ins and outs of how network and streaming television is made. I’m looking to book my first comedy episode and it’s just a matter of time– heyyyy showrunners, producers, writers– put me in, coach!
Also I cannot wait to make movies! Indie comedies, but also big big movies down the road. I want to make my first indie feature – like what’s my Booksmart or Lady Bird, or Band Aid? It might be something I write or something I read that I just love! I have a ten-fifteen year plan of wanting to make big blockbuster comedies with hilarious and strong female leads. Bridesmaids meets Deadpool, where is it? I want to make it.
My dreams scare me sometimes, which is good. They should scare you! If they don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.
That’ll do it for day 2, but be sure to come back each and every day of the festival for highlights and interviews! We’ll be here covering the entire festival, so please make sure to come back again for even more from the 18th annual HollyShorts Film Festival!