deadCENTER Blitz: Discovering The Visiting Short Filmmakers–Unlikely Friendships, Debra Winger, Love, Sex, Death, Family



More Perfect Union plays tonight with love, sex & death shorts at 7:30 p.m. (IAO Gallery) and also thecomedy shorts Sunday at 7 p.m. (IAO Gallery, 706 W. Sheridan Ave.)


In Matt Porter’s More Perfect Union 30 minute short a heartbroken architect visits a bed and breakfast run by an elderly Indian couple. The house has the character of age, and more importantly, it’s a place where the lovesick guy can get lost. He drinks by himself on a patio. He plays acoustic guitar songs to himself. He has a plan to see his ancestor’s Civil War plaque, but he’s not in a hurry.


As he sticks around he has time to observe the relationship between the older couple. When he gets in the way of their bliss, the plot starts moving, and the young man has to lend advice to the old timer that he might have given himself a few weeks prior.


Porter, an NYU grad, and his staff were interested by relationships between generations.


“The three of us, while writing the film, were thinking a lot about turbulence in relationships, and how experiencing those rougher moments is very different for someone our age versus someone who has been in the trenches and weathered the stress of making a relationship work for years.”



Porter scoured NYC for the right man for the part of the Indian bed and breakfast owner. He even joined some Indian dating services to look. When he found the right guy, he was lucky enough to find the man’s wife would be right for the part too. What’s more, they gave them things the young filmmakers may not have written.


“The actors that played the hosts of the bed and breakfast were an actual married couple,” Porter says. “And observing and talking to them about their own marriage added some honesty and specificity to their characters that we may not have been able to find otherwise. Neither of them had done a lot of acting in the past, but they understood the aspect of relationships we were trying to get across, and it resulted in some great performances, I think.”


Porter started making films at 14, growing up in upstate New York. The public access show and short films he worked on there gave him an opportunity to work with his friends, which he still does at the self-started production company Dial Tone Pictures. Porter, Phil Primason and Max Azulay (the young actor pictured above) are now working on a web series.


OKC.NET Sleeper Pick….“Floating Lantern” with the do or die SHORTS, Sat 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. (IAO Gallery)





Jamie Williams is a recent film school graduate from California who’s showing her 9 minute short Floating Lantern today. It was interesting talking to her at the Buffalo Lounge yesterday about the trouble with getting funding for projects. A friend of hers had a web series developing, and they were interviewed by potential funders. The first thing they asked the friend was how many You Tube hits the series had had. The filmmaker kind of shrugged, thinking that’s what the company would help with. Other buyers have suggested to filmmakers that they bring a “You Tube celebrity” to their proposals or pitches.

More and more production companies and producers look for filmmakers who have already one-man banded ideas and have attracted a mass audience. The Lonely Island narrative comes to mind. Sometimes, You Tube hits can just be bought. Pressures of the marketplace for this sort of thing haven’t stopped Williams from taking on some serious storytelling, though.

In Floating Lantern a Japanese-American girl who thought she outgrew her mom finds her in need of support after her brother commits suicide during the Japanese festival for the dead.

The movie is very well shot for a first time filmmaker with an ambient soundtrack with metallic hints that add to the foreshadowing. There’s an interesting mix of Japanese and American culture present to present the rift between mother and daughter. The actual setting of California served to bring this own. Williams originally intended to shoot it in Japan, where she grew up as a military daughter. 


“How it Ended” plays 7:30 Saturday at IAO Gallery with love, sex & death SHORTS



When director Gabriel Nussbaum sent Debra Winger a letter to be in his short he considered himself lucky that she agreed. She gave him four days, and even worked on her birthday.

“Debra brought a lot of thought and specificity to the role,” Nussbaum says. “And she and I discussed her character’s motivations and backstory in detail. Debra doesn’t do anything by accident; every line and every move was considered, though on screen she seems quite spontaneous. I think she brought out an unexpected warmth to a character that, initially, felt cold to me.”

How it Ended tells the story of an older couple (Winger and Pine) who invite a young friend (Halley Feifffer) over for coffee. Things go bad pretty quick.

Nussbaum made the old school move of shooting everything wide, without closer shots of the actors. The choice partly reflects his taste in long forms—How it Ended is based on fiction by James Salter.

“On this short, my DP Jody Lee Lipes and I created a style challenge for ourselves: we barely filmed any coverage of the actors, and let the scenes play out in long master shots. It meant the actors had to perform continuously, more like live work.”

If things go downhill for the characters in this film, it’s not because Nussbaum doesn’t like them. He’s drawn to the imperfections realist tales can bring.

“Even though some unfortunate things take place,” Nussbaum says. “I think the three leads all mean well. Their intentions are basically good, but emotional situations can provoke unexpected behavior.”

The buzz from festival judges was very strong for How it Ended. 

Nussbaum will also soon be filming in Oklahoma, and says he’s excited to do so. 


Loft screens with the Love, Sex & Death Shorts 7:30 p.m. Saturday at IAO Gallery


Loft, which screens along with Nussbaum’s film and was edited by him, follows Lindsay and her well-to-do existence in a Brooklyn loft. She begins getting restless in this life and commences to an affair with a man down the block. He is kind of a bum, asking for cash, but pays her compliments. When things get more serious Lindsay must start to get more serious about her actions and also sense of self.


Wood says it was very important to find the right actress.


“Performance is everything,” Wood says. “Without my actress Joanne Tucker this film would not have been possible. This intimate and challenging role called for a highly talented actress that could communicate the inner conflict that character is experiencing. Joanne, trained at Julliard in New York City, is the most talented actress I have worked with. I look forward to working with her again.”


I asked her if this sort of experience was a common story passed among Brooklyn dwellers.


“This film is actually based on a true story,” she says. “And I can think of numerous examples of women who have had this kind of experience in New York.”


In her next film she’ll delve into the dangerous side of the cultural exchanges to be had in New York.


“In fact, this short film is an exploration of themes in my upcoming feature film ‘White Girl,’ a story about a young woman who moves to a Latino neighborhood in Brooklyn, falls in love with a drug dealer, and when he gets arrested takes over his drug ring to raise the money to get him out of jail.”


In That Moment screens 7:30 p.m. tonight at IAO Gallery with the love, sex & death Shorts


In a nod to the silent eras of yore, NYU trained Shripiya Mahesh films her short exchange in Central Park between a beautiful blond and one of those frozen statue models.

The statue’s regular routine of beguiling passerbys is interrupted when this girl captures his attention. She sees him when a boy and his balloon catch her eye.

Mahesh actually found Oklahoma City native to complete the film.


“Casting the right actors for the role is such a huge part of the process,” Mahesh says. “I got lucky because I found Jennifer Laine Williams (an Oklahoma City native) very quickly and she was perfect for the part.”


For the frozen trickster, she went straight to the source.


“For the role of the living statue, I wanted someone very authentic,” Mahesh says. “Someone who knew how to do that ‘job’ and so I ended up meeting many of the people who are living statues in NYC and David was an instant fit. I loved the fact that he had a strong acting background in addition to his skills as a living statue.”


Mahesh likes to work with narrative. She is currently working on a feature. But this film reflects her tendency to think in images.


“I love films where things are communicated visually,” Mahesh says. “And I try to keep dialog to what’s needed. I do adapt the approach to the film, but usually a visual concept will stay in my mind for a while and that will lead to characters and then story development.”


Mahesh is a filmmaker with a past life in other industry. The idea to film came after a long break, and she’s continuing on with it.


“I’ve always wanted to do something visual, but I spent the first part of my professional life in the technology/product marketing world in Silicon Valley. I made the switch to film in late 2005 when I took a sabbatical and made a couple of shorts. That propelled me to apply to the grad film program at NYU. At NYU I’ve made 3 narrative shorts, 2 of which have done nicely on the festival circuit and the third is in post-production.” 

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