Short Film Explores the Zombie/Robot Relationship

Art Hall Melodie Simond - sm
Mélodie Simond & Art Hall created A Friend at the End for the Guts N’ Bolts Short Film Festival

Toaster Music, in conjuction with the Arts Council for Long Beach, the Long Bach Cinematheque, and the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach, is presenting the Guts N’ Bolts Short Film, Music, and Art Festival on Friday, September 20th, at the Renaissance High School for the Arts, located at 235 East 8th Street. [The location of the downtown A LOT site is no longer on Pine Avenue, as was previously planned. – srw]

I’m in Toaster Music, an improvisational electronica performance duo, with my friend Sumako. Some months ago we applied for a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, called A LOT. Part of the challenge in crafting our proposal was a requirement to collaborate with other artists and arts organizations. Both Sumako and I had worked, together and independently, with Logan Crow, founder and Executive Director of Long Beach Cinematheque, so it was natural for us to reach out to him.

Recently, the Cinematheque brought a free outdoor screening of The Artist to the parking lot of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, and the completely restored Fritz Lang classic, Metropolis, to the O.C. Film Fiesta, both with original live scores. When it comes to art house cinema, Logan’s the man. He’s also responsible for the hugely successful Long Beach Zombie Walk, an annual event that, with humble beginnings, has grown to pull in record breaking quantities of slow moving attendees.

Toaster Music frequently uses site specific video projections as part of our performances, so it seemed natural to partner with the Cinematheque. We invited people to make a film, five minutes or less, that features a zombie and/or a robot.

Mélodie Simond, a film school grad from Columbia College in Chicago, and Art Hall, with a degree in theater, met while working for the U.S. Census. Since then, they’ve collaborated on a number of web series’, spec ad campaigns, and some short films. When they heard about the call for submissions for the Guts and Bolts Short Film Festival, they got inspired to make A Friend At The End.

“I thought it sounded like a really fun challenge,” Mélodie said, “and sometimes restrictions and deadlines can really help stimulate creativity. I had a vague notion of what I wanted to do, based on a scene from Frankenstein (1931), where the monster encounters a little girl by a lake. She hands him flowers to throw into the water and, when he runs out of flowers, he throws her into it.”

ArtHallRoboraptor“It was a poignant moment,” Art said, “and we felt it was worth exploring.”

“I wasn’t sure how to approach it,” Mélodie said, “and what kind of robot to make – a costumed one seemed silly. But then I thought of the Roboraptor, and what could be done with it in terms of reactions. It snow-balled pretty quickly into the story. We had a good two-hour writing session, but it wasn’t until later that I really figured out the ending. It was inevitable, and sad.”

“I really dug the idea of two beings, not terribly different from each other, interacting, trying to understand each other,” Art explained.

“I don’t think we intended on making the short be this sad,” Mélodie confessed, “but that’s how it came together. We had an incredibly small crew, and shot guerrilla style in Monrovia on a Monday. Few hikers, no park rangers. We got lucky.”

“It was a pretty quick shoot,” Art recalled. “Hell, the make up application took about a third of time it took to shoot once we were out there.”

The film, shot by Mélodie and starring Art, tells the story of an unlikely, tender, and tragic friendship that, quite frankly, is a bit of a tear jerker. With no dialog, other than some inarticulate but very expressive non-verbal utterances from Art, it plucks on the heart strings quite effectively.

It, and eight other short films, are awaiting your viewing, and voting. You can find them all at ZombieWalkLB.com/guts-n-bolts-vote-2013.

NOTE: The location of the event, and all Downtown A LOT events, has changed to the Renaissance High School for the Arts, located at 235 East 8th Street.

The Guts N’ Bolts Short Film Festival, and music performances by Toaster Music, will be taking place from 6 – 9 PM on Friday, September 20th. The Cultural Alliance for Long Beach is also hosting the Guts N’ Bolts Art Show at the Bungalow Arts Center, curated by Jose Loza, in the gallery located at 737 North Pine Avenue. 

To learn more about Toaster Music, visit ToasterMusic.com. To learn more about A LOT, visit ALotLongBeach.org. To keep on top of the Cinematheque’s efforts, including upcoming screenings of Rosemary’s Baby and Eraserhead at CSULB, visit LBCinema.org.

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