This should have been posted a week or two ago. Those who are familiar with my internet issues know the problems I’ve dealt with. Still, it’s better late than never. This is more a companion piece to episode 37 of Imaginarium (releasing on 7/37/15), but felt Eli Hayes, the director and talent behind them, deserved a bit more spotlight. I really dig his work, and the following 12 movies really represent what can be done with a 0 budget. His style may not be to everyone’s liking, but the gift is undeniable. Check out the podcast when it drops, and learn some behind the scenes stories about some of the shorts.
A female figure with gloves and a ski mask is searching the house. Searching for what, isn’t clear, but along the way she picks up letters strewn throughout the home. Hayes’ use of music is perfect and allows that to set the tone of the film. While there’s an overuse of soft focus shots, they somehow seem to be necessary. The imagery in Vanished is beautiful and haunting, and some moments may linger after you see this first film from Hayes.
Hide And Go Seek
This short starts off in a Koyansquatsi fashion, lots of nature shots intertwined with music that melts into the scene like butter on waffles. We see two girls show up at different times and disappear after touching a tree. When we see them next both are wearing masks and searching. The search seems to be an underlying theme in much of his work, and here it’s put into good, eerie use. Hayes once again shows his talent in all of aspects of the film, and I only wished there had been a little more.
This is one of my favorites, if not the favorite of Hayes’ work. As I alluded to earlier, much of what his films are about are what you think they are, and for me Reflections is about mourning childhood, grieving almost for the days when life seemed simpler. There are three distinct changes in tone, which follows the little girl we first see in different stages of her life. There’s a lot of interesting choices he made with filters, which enhance the sometimes vague and frightening nature of memories.
Stalk (Final Cut)
Stalk can be seen as a simple case of multiple serial killers in some seriously creepy masks, or it can be seen as a metaphor for the choices we make. There’s a very David Lynchian quality to Stalk, and as usual the marriage of sight and sound is a good one. There was a lot of sound design here, more than the others I believe, and it’s quite effective. When we see two teens on a couch it’s through an almost drug induced fog, and the killer in the background they don’t see, could easily be their addictions. I think it’s the most mature film of his to this point and definitely a stark contrast to his other work.
When I first started talking to Eli about his movies, one of the first ones he mentioned that I would like is Eye Contact, and he was right. An homage of sorts to the classic slasher Maniac, EC id creepy, freaky, and chilling. The entire movie reminds me of the chase scene through the subway in Maniac, and that’s a not bad. Using a voice over for the first time, the killer comes off as A Frank Zitoesque basket case. The sound is nothing short of fantastic, and this is probably the most narrative driven work.
Pixels returns to two constant themes: searching, and drugs. We see the home of a teen girl, the camera following her into her room where she’s surrounded by school books. You can see the stress in her face and when you see the search terms she’s typing into Google, your heart breaks just a little. Pixels is a bit of a throwback to Hayes’ first couple of movies. It’s simple, not a lot of flash, and works best if you let it wash over you rather than trying to make sense of it.
Despite the fact we used to call them snow globes (though to be fair there’s always more water than the plastic snowflakes), this short is the least structured, and as Hayes himself refers to it, “a visual poem”. Divided into three parts, or stanzas even, each part and the characters in them, two masked girls, a smoking reader, and a man with a photo and the titular globe. All could be3 seen to be stuck in their own globes, being shaken be their deeds, words, and thought. As always the music and imagery are in perfect sync, making for a philosophical viewing.
Here Even So
A woman’s grief and inability to cope with the loss of a loved one drives this darker than usual piece. With some music by Sigur Ros to fill things out, Here Even So is very haunting. From the dramatic beginning with close ups of masks, idols drawings and devils, to the almost wistful ending and somewhat upbeat music, and fond memories, Here takes us on a journey that all of us are far too familiar with.
The key to time travel isn’t a Tardis after all, but a grapefruit being pressed in a George Forman grill. Don’t believe it? Then watch Dr. Grapefruit, and you’ll see. Perhaps the lightest and most whimsical of Hayes’ work, Dr. G is very simply the story of one mad scientist using household items, discarded electronics, and citrus to make a time machine. Is he merely crazy, or is there a method to the madness he has scribbled on a pizza box? Who can say, however watching him put it together is quite a bit of fun.
Waves is a difficult film to watch if you know the backstory behind it. If you don’t, then check out the latest Imaginarium podcast with Eli Hayes as our guest. He talk about the real life experience that he based this moving short on. Once again drug addiction takes center stage, and what happens when a user od’s in front of her dealer. It’s a stark reminder of what humanity can be capable of, whether on drugs or not. Beautifully shot, with the music by Hayes himself, Waves is a quiet gem of a movie, providing a message without beating you over the head.
He Takes The Pills
The most recent of Hayes’ work, He Takes The Pills could be the culmination of everything that came before it. It’s his most mature work to date, and shows a confidence in his style and ability that many directors twice his age lack. The plot is simple, a pill popper trying to quiet those voices of whether to take the pills or not. It gives a realistic glimpse of what addicts can go through at times when they try to do right, but still fall to the power of their demons. Hayes’ score for He Takes The Pills Is spot on, and worthy of a few minutes of your time.
Penis Man: Dickapitated
The name says it all really. A short short film Eli shot while in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, Dickapitated is…well, see for yourself. You can thank me later.