Short films are celebrated every year at the Academy Awards, but for the everyday person, it’s harder to see short films because they don’t receive as much attention or air time as feature films.
Enter the next One Day University Short Film Festival, hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, coming to Richmond on Saturday, June 15, at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.
“Most of the people who come to this festival have never seen any of these films before,” said Douglas LeClaire, who puts together the program. “They probably don’t know they exist. They don’t know how to find good short films.”
“I try to mix it up and put together an eclectic overview of entertaining short films,” said LeClaire, a short-film expert and School of Visual Arts in New York City movie and television production professor.
“All of these films have had their day in the sun on the festival circuit. Some of them are 10 years old, others came out more recently,” he added.
One of his favorite short films, “The Caption,” was released last year. It’s about a cartoon caption creator who is frustrated after years of rejections by a famous New York magazine, which affects his health and his marriage.
“Suddenly, he finds a secret source that provides him with winning ideas for the magazine and his life changes,” LeClaire said. “It has the sort of ending that’s so hard to do in short films.”
LeClaire describes a successful short film as one “that is under 15 minutes and tells a story from beginning, middle and end. It’s hugely challenging to a filmmaker. They don’t have the leeway of two hours that a feature film director has. The director of a short film has 10 minutes to make a story work.”
He went a little farther back to find “Death, Taxes and Apple Juice,” a short film released in 2010 about a young woman who vents about her life’s problems to her tax preparer, who is also her friend. The twist? They’re 9 years old.
“That is one of my all-time favorites. The director, Tamar Halpern, is hugely talented. She’s moved on to TV and film,” LeClaire said.
Another short film, “The Pickle,” is a darkly humorous documentary about the director’s parents, who live on a farm in Maryland and whose mission in life is to help sick and needy animals of all types. They try to help chickens, opossums, dogs, hawks and more. The catch? They aren’t very good at it.
“A successful ending for a short film can have a twist, end with a wow factor or a laugh, or sometimes it’s just warm and fuzzy,” LeClaire said.
The two-hour Short Film Festival is a mix of comedy, drama, live action and animated shorts.
“I hope that a person who comes out of the festival leaves feeling educated, more knowledgeable of short film and the hard work that goes into these projects,” LeClaire said.
He described many of the short films as a young filmmaker’s “business card.” Directors make short films to launch their careers.
“This is a chance to see short films on a real cinema screen. There’s something to be said about 100 people in a room enjoying a film without interruptions,” LeClaire said. “And this is a great way to see short films from beginning to end.”
The One Day University Short Film Festival is 10 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $89 and are available by calling (800) 300-3438 or visiting www.onedayu.com/events/detail/981/one-day-university-short-film-festival-richmond.