Snow Boat (2013) – 4.5 stars
What happens when the blizzard stops and the sun comes out? The Eskimo must save his girlfriend, who just so happens to be a block of ice. Despite the overbearing sound effects, you’ll want to hop right on his little boat made of snow to see if he can save his icy friend. It’s the little touches, such as that extra element of 2-D animation in the blizzard and storm, that make this short film sparkle.
The Storyteller (2014) – 3.5 stars
Be careful not to blink because you might miss this one. Writers and directors Ai Zhang, Danielle Paulet, Holly Fields and Zhou Quan created an animated short that shows the struggle between a storytelling deer and the city construction threatening his world. The cut-out animation is definitely worth a watch, but the storyline is not. Then again, when a short is less than two minutes, can there really be much of a story?
Lambing Season (2013) – 4 stars
This 15-minute flick takes the audience to Ireland, where Bridget and Patrick go off to find her father. Writer, director and producer Jeannie Donohoe had just enough of a twist to keep it from being too predictable. And when it ventured into the I-know-what’s-going-to-happen-next territory, the funny quirks and a small secret keep it from staying there.
Sweet Corn (2013) – 5 stars
Sweet Corn succeeds. Writer/director Joo Hyun Lee captures the tension between the farmer father and his independent son in a story that is sure to get smiles out of every audience. When Bong-Moo learns the secret to keep his corn sweet, you can’t help but laugh with him. It doesn’t even matter that the film is translated; this proves that a touching story can cross languages, and Chang Gil Moon, Ho Won Kim and Yerin Kim’s performances in the film will make you want more.
SouthSouthWest (2014) – 3.5 stars
When Neil’s camera is stolen, it just takes a little chat with a girl to give him the courage to stand up for himself and conquer his fears. It’s too bad the girl jumps in and out of the movie before you can understand what’s happening. Even with the great cinematography and sentimental story, SouthSouthWest fails to bring it all together in the end, leaving the audience with more questions than answers.
A Toast to our Youth (2014) – 3.5 stars
A montage or a movie? The audience might find themselves asking this question after watching A Toast to our Youth, which follows a group of young adults on a road trip. Originally filmed to be a commercial for Coca-Cola, writer, director and producer Taylor MacDonald decided to make it more, which is probably why the cinematography is spot on. Even though the storyline is lacking, you’ll want to sneak a peek at this flick for the great music and beautiful shots.
Q&A with student filmmakers
How did you decide to end Snow Boat like that?
“We had a lot of discussion about how this story should end; there were people suggesting that the man should die, just let him die. But at the same time, it’s too tragic; we want some hope at the end. So we kind of left some imaginary space for the audience,” said director Mirror Su.
I know that A Toast to Our Youth was originally a commercial, so can you tell me a little bit about your creative process for that?
“It was very challenging, to be honest. It started as a Coke commercial, if you couldn’t tell. We didn’t have a script at all. We set out to shoot this 60-second clip about kids going on a road trip. It was really tough — a lot of it was improv and a lot of it was just kind of in the moment … It was a really challenging but rewarding experience,” said writer, director and producer Taylor MacDonald.
Could you tell me a little about the process of the animation of Snow Boat?
“Since the film is not purely 2-D or 3-D, it’s a mix. For the animation, we divided it into three parts. The character animation was mostly done in 3-D but the environment and the water effects and the snow were done in 2-D.”
Where did you film A Toast to Our Youth?
“We filmed here at Bobbie’s Diner, that’s were everything started, and then we drove to Asheville, North Carolina, and did four different locations there and then we had a long day in the truck to Atlanta, where we captured the scene in the city, where they honked for us and all of that,” said producer Dumaine Babcock.
Did Coke help fund your production?
“They did, thankfully. Originally the commercial was financed by Coca-Cola, so we worked with them on creating the concept of the road trip and eventually, this product is everything we didn’t use for the commercial,” said director Taylor MacDonald.