A scene from "The Devil's Dosh." (Hollywood Shorts Film Festival )
A rising star in Hollywood, Zachary Quinto may be best known for his dramatic turns in the TV shows "Heroes" and "American Horror Story" as well as recent movies like "Margin Call" and "Star Trek." But in the short film "Before After" he shows something different to audiences in playing an overconfident matador, priest and clown in a series of hilarious vignettes. "I am not really known for my work in comedy, so it's great to be able to step outside the zone of expectation in a short film," he said.
"Before After" will be screening Thursday night at Grauman's Chinese Theatre as part of the opening program of the HollyShorts Film Festival, which runs until next Thursday with daily screenings. Now in its eighth year, the festival has become one of the city's largest short form festivals, featuring over 300 films, including 50 world premieres, from 20 countries. Though HollyShorts began receiving only 25 short films in its first year, it now attracts over 1,000 submissions from around the world.
"There are a lot of great short film festivals out there, but most you have to travel to get to," said Theo Dumont, who co-founded and co-directs the festival with Daniel Sol. "We wanted to do something like that based in Hollywood. We wanted a platform for all these great and inventive filmmakers."
Quinto will be onstage at the festival's opening night to introduce a sequence of short films from the New York-based cult comedy Web series "Periods," which includes "Before After." Quinto's production company also executive produces "Periods" content. "We are all really excited to be able to watch an hour and a half of these shorts on a giant screen," says Quinto.
Made by a collective of actors, writers and comedians, "Periods" has built an avid online and social media following with quirky takes on human history. The HollyShorts program will screen 13 of the films sequentially beginning with "Re:Creation," a decidedly modern take on Adam and Eve, to "Nam," a comic re-imagining of 1978's "The Deer Hunter."
"I think that's what makes short film festivals so viable and so much fun today," said Sol. "What the 'Periods' crew is doing is a really great case study of what modern indie filmmaking is all about today, utilizing the digital and social media tools to get high-quality content to the masses worldwide without having to spend an astronomical amount on overhead and marketing."
The HollyShorts Festival includes all manner of short form content, including documentary, horror and science fiction, adult animation, action shorts, Web series and student work, along with music videos, commercials and film trailers.
"We didn't want to limit what we could include," Dumont said. "There are so many new distribution opportunities, and it's encouraging some great work out there."
Short films are also attracting high-caliber talent these days among actors keen to explore their skills behind the camera. The festival will also screen the Bryce Dallas Howard-directed "When You Find Me" (executive produced by her famous father Ron) as well as a short directed by "Transformers'" Shia LaBeouf, "HowardCantour.com." Starring comic Jim Gaffigan, the quirky comment on film criticism was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
A commentator for ESPN's coverage of the X Games, Sal Masekela will be showing his documentary "Alekesam," which tracks his often fractured relationship with his father, South African jazz artist and activist Hugh Masekela. The film explores Masekela's family connections to music as he records his first album, as well as eloquently unfolding the history of his father, who was exiled from South Africa for 30 years.
"People ask me if this is a film about my father or about me. I think it's more an impromptu father-son story connecting through music," Masekela said. "People know me as this action-sports guy, and it's the polar opposite of my heritage and where I come from."
"I think what is so wonderful about a short film festival is that you never know what is around the corner," said Quinto. "Each film can be exciting in its own way. It's like getting great, bite-size creative content."
8th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival
Where: Grauman's Chinese Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.
When: Opens 7 p.m. Thu. Through Aug. 16
Ticket prices: Opening night $50, individual programs and passes $12 to $300