Drowning in short films

Short films have, in many important ways, undergone a renaissance on the web. YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sharing services provide a platform for films by professionals, amateurs, and everything in between. Animals being silly, supercuts of films, fake trailers, short narrative films, abstract films, documentaries, jokes, instructional videos, music videos, home movies: Short films are so fully integrated into our lives they are almost invisible.

Are you the favorite person of anybody?

The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2014 represent the best of a certain kind of short film, but there are a wide range of valuable, artistic, interesting, and occasionally bizarre videos that simply will never be recognized by the venerable Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The half-dozen videos you will watch today on Tumblr or Reddit or wherever are all short films too. They use the same cinematic tools, albeit with vastly differing philosophies, budgets, and intents.

One particular genre of short film that I admire, along with the classic and increasingly diverse “Monkey riding [other animal]” genre, is a kind of video that I always associate with a (now deleted) YouTube user named StSanders. StSanders had a shtick: He would take famous videos of rock-n-roll icons and overdub their virtuoso music performances with performances that were . . . somewhat less virtuoso.

An archive remains online at stsanders.com, and various brave souls have reposted the videos to YouTube here and there. You could do worse things today than work your way down the “Guitar Shreds” series.

Steve Vai shreds in Denver (a StSanders original reposted to YouTube).

Others have followed his lead. Mario Wienerroither performs a similar transformation, but with much more abstract official music videos serving as the foundation of his art. One of my favorites from his small selection is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The revised footage is eerie and disjointed–pop music filtered through the eyes and ears of David Lynch.

Based on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (original video).

There are plenty more of these out there. These parodies are works of art and craftsmanship that will not be coming to a theater near you, anytime ever. As you poke around online, keep an open mind and try to remember that GIFs, supercuts, and spoofs are in fact part of the same grand tradition of moving pictures that the Oscars celebrate.

In the non-music music video genre, I must admit that I have a favorite:

based on R√∂yksopp’s “This Must Be It” (original video)

Hope you enjoy it as well.

Jeremiah Sturgill serves as website coordinator for the Filmworks board, and he works as a computer support tech for the USDA.