Vimeo presented Staff Picks Cinema: Director’s Commentary LIVE during SXSW, featuring a selection your favorite shorts and music videos from Vimeo’s celebrated Staff Picks Channel. We were treated to live, unscripted commentary from the filmmakers, providing insight into the talented (and wonderfully eclectic) minds behind the films.
#1: Director: Leah Shore: I Love You So Much
Two people love each other so much.
Like the Isabella Rossellini ‘Green Porno’ Sundance series that sparked the film’s concept, director Leah Shore does not disappoint. After primarily creating animated films, Shore shared that ‘I Love You So Much’ was born out of the desire to do create a live action film. The multi-talented artist wrote, directed and starred in the film, while also creating the animated seen throughout, as well as the credits.
#2 Directors Ian Schwartz & Cooper Roberts: Mr. Little Jeans – Good Mistake
A trucker reminisces on the past.
Ian Schwartz and crew represented the directing duo in Cooper Roberts' absence for the event, discussing the theme and filming of the official Mr. Little Jeans music video. The film's concept centers around watching life pass you by and the regret and anger that follows life’s disappointments – personified by our grisly, pill popping, mirror-smashing truck driver.
The filmmakers revealed that the dancing ladies of the truck stop represented mother figures to the man and that the actor was so committed to the part, he really punched the mirror in the video, breaking both the breakaway glass and real mirror, and really bleeding on-set.
#3 Director Danny Madden: Confusion Through Sand
A 19-year old kid finds himself alone in the desert, scared as hell, but trained to react.
Director Danny Madden and crew shared that the inspiration behind the film came from high school friends shipping off to join the army and the Iraq war while they went on to college. The filmmakers wanted to explore their friends’ crazy experiences through film, deciding to use a gritty style of animation.
They shot live action references in their hometown of Peachtree City, Georgia, which basically involved Madden riding his skateboard around with a camera. For the animation, they used two types of coarse and grainy paper and backlit the paper to allow the light to shine through.
Madden was also offered the opportunity to use the foley room at Skywalker Studios and record the sound effects. Madden also emphasized the importance of color correction in post for the piece. The film was photographed very flat and colourist Sean Wells was responsible for shaping it and adding dimension.
The filmmakers also asked veterans what they like or found corny about typical Hollywood army movies before filming, which paid off with the positive response they’ve received from vets to the film.
For more on how the project was animated, watch the ‘Making of ‘ here.
#4 Director Hiro Murai: Flying Lotus - Never Catch Me ft. Kendrick Lamar
The official music video
Flying Lotus came to director Hiro Murai with the concept for the music video: a black boy being late for his funeral. Murai gave the audience insight into the casting for the film, revealing that the young girl in the dancing kid pair was cast 36 hours before filming. He discovered her from a YouTube video she uploaded and flew her in from San Diego to the filming location, Inglewood, California.
Murai did admit that he didn’t realize how creepy filming would be until he was on set watching the kids climb into coffins. One of the children even fell asleep in the coffin, taking the on set weirdness up a notch.
For the shot of the children driving away in the car, a PA had to wear a “car seat suit” and drive the car while the little girl sat in her lap. While possibly illegal, it still may be safer than allowing a child to drive -all in the name of art.
#5 Directors Jonathan & Josh Baker (TWiN): Bag Man
In this understated story, a 12-year-old African American boy takes us on an introspective journey out of the city and into the remote countryside of New York, with a mysterious duffle bag in hand.
Directors Jonathan and Josh Baker explained how the concept of the film is a lot about stereotypes, which can be seen in each character throughout the film. The filmmakers wanted to play off the audience’s preconceptions of these stereotypes, turning them around with the twist-ending.
Silence is another theme the directors played with, leaving viewer’s to question the father's absence and pushing it to the edge with the primary character’s lack of dialogue.
The colour palette features spots of yellow throughout the film, primarily because the filmmakers wanted to use yellow in the gun’s design. The filmmakers also shared that they had to have a "real" gun and actually flip the car, using VFX to enhance the props, live action stunt and story.