HollyShorts 2022 Day 4 (August 14th) Highlights + Q & A With Grace Sloan!

We’re back again with day 4 of HollyShorts, and the festival returns with even more incredible films. With Thrillers, Sci-Fi and more on display today, we also get the honor to present an entire block dedicated to filmmakers from the Philippines.  There is a lot in store for today, so let’s get to the highlights! For more of what day 4 has to offer, be sure to check it all out online on BitPix, and get tickets for future days of the festival through HollyShorts if you’re able to attend in person! Stick around for an interview with one of today’s highlighted filmmakers as well to get to know them and their work a little better!

The Fore-Men – Adrian Bobb’s proof-of-concept film is a wonderfully beautiful and terrifying concept, as the past, present and future have melded together, bringing back creatures from the past, splicing others to their environments and signaling the emergence of something totally new. As two paleontologists (Sophia Walker and Gabriel Darku) survive the wasteland of this new world, they find the cause, and get some insight into their intentions. It’s an absolutely wild film, but one that could and should get expanded into a larger piece as it has the promise of something very interesting. Visually, it’s spectacular, with wonderful visuals and some unique costuming.

It’s Raining Frogs Outside (Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol) Alyana Cabral shines in this multimedia film from Maria Estela Paiso. As part of the spotlights on the Philippines, this is a stunning film that mixes live action, stop motion animation and a mix of other techniques as she confronts something from her past. It’s a fascinating and terrific film that can’t be explained in words, but is well worth the watch.

Mom Vs. Machine – Tesh Guttikonda brings us a silly and wonderful film that focuses on Vyom (Praneet Akilla), an adult man who spends most of his time in his “man cave”, which is the basement of the home that he shares with his mother (Nimet Kanji). As he’s progressed into adulthood, Vyom spends little time with his mother, even getting his meals from a 3D printing machine that makes his food for him. To the chagrin of his mother, she begins a rivalry with the machine in order to get more attention from her son, which results in some wild shenanigans. 

Death Valley – Writer and director Grace Sloan brings an old school sci-fi vibe to this film, which stars Norma Kuhling as a radiologist in 2080, an era in which the Earth is uninhabitable. During a trip down there to bask in the radiated glow of the sun, she suffers a mishap that changes her life forever. The nostalgic feel to this film makes it so much fun, bringing a very familiar but wholly unique character to Death Valley.

Cool For You – This animated film from Director Sherene Strausberg and writer Marianna Linz is based on the book by Linz and illustrator Caitlin B. Alexander and focuses on the emerging climate crisis. Aimed towards a younger audience, this rhyming animated book tells all about how the temperature is increasing and some ways to help get the Earth back to a cooler natural state. It’s wonderful to see work that helps make the children of the world more aware of climate change. Voice work from Todd Drucker, Yuri Drucker, Saretta Drucker, Iris Drucker and Strausberg are a wonderful companion to the piece.

Onto our interview with writer and director Grace Sloan, whose film Death Valley was spoken about above! It was great to get a chance to speak with her about the film and her next projects.

Still from “Death Valley”

Q: Tell us more about your film.  How did it come to be? 

As a production designer, I applied to a residency with Court 13 – their prompt was to build a set, whatever set you want, and a group of high school students would write a script based on the set. I loved this way of working, from aesthetic backwards. When I wasn’t able to do the residency for scheduling reasons, I decided to write a script based off of the set myself. So, the spaceship and space pod were the first things to exist, and Death Valley was created around that. 

Q: What was your budget?

Before post, $12k. Now, probably around $15k-$16k. I called in a lot of favors. You can only do that once. 

Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?

Relax! I was so prepared for the worst I sometimes forgot to have fun. Filmmaking is fun! Stay focused, but staying loose keeps you agile. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?

The standard ones: time, money. The space pod was held together with L-brackets in the desert, and then had to be transported and reassembled in the studio. Thankfully, I was working with understanding friends that were happy to help- our cinematographer Laura Valladao painted the interior of the pod on the day of shooting. 

Q:  What is next for you?

I’m working on a few projects at once: a very personal documentary about memory and VHS, a short abstract film on breakaway props, and a script about an island infested with coconut crabs.

Thanks for coming to us with our coverage of this year’s HollyShorts Film Festival! Be sure to keep coming back for more information on each passing day of the festival! See you tomorrow!

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