My Rode Reel is an annual film contest hosted each summer by Rode Microphones. It's global, has no entry fees, and the only requirements for submitting are that teams also produce a short behind the scenes video that shows how they used a Rode product to make their movie. Because of this, it's one of the most gloriously diverse and entertaining film contests I've participated in, with teams from all over the world, of all different skill and budget levels, creating all different kinds of movie. It's one of the few festivals I know of where a team of scrappy kids in England making a low budget monster movie can go up against a slick production company's documentary from South Africa, who are competing with a group of Skateboarding Japanese teenagers making a donut commercial, and all of them have an equal shot at getting their films seen by a global audience and winning some truly cool prizes.
The Behind the Scenes component also makes it a great place to learn from this smorgasbord of short filmmaking, and can be almost as entertaining as the films themselves.
Recycling Man - Oliver Topp
What I love about this is how scrappy the whole thing is, both in the film itself and behind the scenes (seriously, watch the behind the scenes...SO MUCH DUCT TAPE I LOVE IT). The title had me primed for a very different kind of movie (a superhero, maybe?), and I liked how that subverted my expectations with what I actually got. The creature and sound design are clever and on point. Plus there’s a cute dog in it...always a plus.
Fishy Wish - Przemysław Stański
Coming out of Poland, two neighbors battle over a magic wish granting fish. It’s little touches from this that make it one of my favorites this year...the voice of the fish saying “Okay!”, the hiss the one neighbor gives when he sees his opponent sneaking onto his land, the slow sound of frogs and crickets as a little denouement at the end. This was the winner of the Judges’ award for this year, and it was a well deserved win. This short also holds a special place in my heart, because from the behind the scenes footage it looks like they used a Panasonic GH4, my personal camera of choice for the past several years.
Tokyo, the City that’s always drunk - Video Curazy
Something I look for in a short film is that it captures the feeling of a specific moment. A tone poem to an experience. ‘Tokyo, the City that’s always drunk’ does this for a night of heavy drinking in a vivid locale. The editing makes this a standout, the way the cuts slide from one moment to the next, the whole thing blurring together in a way where I’m not quite sure how we got from point A to point B, but it doesn’t matter because I’m just enjoying the ride.
Action Cop II - Revengance - Cannon Fodder Production
More cheese than the state of Wisconsin. I came for the Tank suit, but I stayed for the over-the-top-dgaf story and the Pinteresque pauses. I only wish there were more Arnold Style one liners. And please give the Tank his own spinoff short!
Keep Me Posted - Paer Waldemar Tobias Nilsson
A surrealist horror that combines a childlike sense of whimsy with a very adult fear (who among us doesn’t dread the arrival of bills, tickets, court summons, and other sneaky modern daybusting terrors slipping through our mail slots?)
Donut Wheels - AVII IMAGEWORKS
It’s exactly what it says on the tin, and then some. I don’t know that it works so well as a donut commercial - ‘food products I want to ingest’ and ‘things that make good wheels for transport’ remain two VERY separate categories in my mind. But this is some stylish madness. And it’s my favorite film of this year’s My Rode Reel film crop.
And one last film, though this one is kind of a cheat, since it’s actually from the 2016 My Rode Reel film festival, but I’ve got to give a shout out to Dognap by JKK films. This remains one of my favorite online shorts, period, and was the first movie to really make me fall in love with the My Rode Reel film festival. The fights are nuts, the twists are epic, and it’s got a cute dog too.
And some shameless self-promotion, check out our 2018 My Rode Reel entry - DRIP!
How about you? If you’re also watching, I’d love to hear what films stood out to you in the comments section!