Featured video: Follow the red balloon

Micah Byers and Sadie Byers star in the Filmworks featured video for February 2014, an homage to the short film "The Red Balloon." Via Zoë Smurr.
Micah Byers and Sadie Byers star in the Filmworks featured video for February 2014, an homage to the short film “The Red Balloon.” Via Zoë Smurr.
Our featured video this month for The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2014 stars an inquisitive street performer, a precocious little girl, and a pesky wayward balloon.

Local freelance videographer Zoë Smurr produced and directed the video, now airing on CMAC and on our YouTube channel. A frequent volunteer for Filmworks, Smurr previously made the featured video for “Frances Ha” in July 2013. She also creates the “What’s Happening in Downtown Fresno” monthly video series for the California Creative Group.

For her latest Filmworks video, Smurr drew inspiration from the mostly silent 1956 French short film “The Red Balloon,” a 34-minute featurette about the adventures of a boy who finds a red balloon. “The Red Balloon” is the only short film to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and it won long before Oscar awards categories for shorts existed. Here is Smurr’s video:

“I wanted to evoke fantasy, short film, and incorporate The Tower Theatre into it visually, so I played off of previous featured videos where an object compels the audience to seek out the films playing at the theater,” says Smurr, an aspiring filmmaker who earned her bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley.

“But I needed more,” she says. “So I thought of my boyfriend, Micah Byers, who has become a staple on the corner of Wishon and Olive outside The Tower Theatre as his street-performing character, Mr. BeforeDawn. We added in his adorable niece, Sadie, to create the balloon rivalry, and then we’ve got a ‘micro-short’ video!”

Smurr says making the short featured videos for Filmworks really feeds her creative itch.

“It’s a fun and challenging way to be able to ‘do what you can, with what you have, where you are,’ to quote Theodore Roosevelt,” she says. “It’s super rewarding for me to see who will come out and volunteer to make it all come together.”

Keep an eye out in the audience for Mr. BeforeDawn and Sadie at the Oscar shorts screenings on Feb. 13 and 14.

Jefferson Beavers serves as President of the Fresno Filmworks board, and he teaches journalism and film studies at Fresno City College.