Short of the Week

Memorize

In 2027, everyone is implanted with a chip which records everything they see. It is the end of judicial doubt, but not of crime, in this slick sci-fi action flick.

Fresh from Sweden, Memorize is our latest entry in the genre of short film alternately known as VFX/Proof of Concept/Calling Card/Feature Teaser. It  is a stylish action piece from Jimmy Eriksson and Eric Ramberg, childhood friends and aspiring film directors.

Like the recently reviewed film, Plurality, Memorize film envisions a world where hiding a crime is impossible. Rather than an elaborate network of DNA sensors though, here authorities are able to ensure justice by directly tapping into an individual’s memory unit, rewinding and playing past events like a video stream. It is still a violent world however—if you’re guilty there is no chance of getting off, so maybe you shouldn’t go quietly—and thus the need for the SSU, a crack police unit with the skills and temperament of Judge Dredd.

Sporting well-thought out fight sequences and impressive technology design, the film is a quality showcase of craft for both Ramberg and Eriksson, a former game designer intent on breaking into the film industry. Story-wise it’s not bad either, though limited in the way that this whole genre is limited—both by runtime and by differing priorities. There are certain logical inconsistencies, and our main bad-ass cop is utterly without personality, but the main concept is adequately introduced, and we actually meet a potential villain. Assuming there is a feature length script, this would be a pretty good cold open.

Elements such as the acting, photography, UI  design are good but not excellent, however the film is more than the sum of its parts due to some real panache it its direction. We are starting to see a lot crossover from games and design into film via these VFX pieces, and I think that the holistic way these artists look at space is a major reason why. Eriksson was a level designer for major game franchises, and I imagine there to be difference between deciding how to design the visual continuity of a space via shot selection—an autocratic power over perception—versus designing a space with a gamer’s 360 degree freedom of movement in mind. While there is nothing innovative per se in the film’s framing or edit, it does feel fresh.

The filmmakers are managed by Scott Glassgold, who has quite few short film clients under representation, including Jesús Orellana of ROSA fame and Stephen Zlotescu of True Skin. Will Eriksson and Ramberg be able to score a development deal off the strength of this effort? Time will tell.

~
Co-Founder of Short of the Week, Sondhi lives in Brooklyn working as a Curator for Vimeo. Follow his musings on online video, direct distribution and branded content: @jasondhi.
  • Griff

    I like this site, and while I can only fully engage with about 30-40% of the stuff posted, that’s a pretty high rate, and I can generally see the worth in all of it. I also love me some sci fi, the Matrix, Blade Runner, Looper, etc etc. I also dislike the internet’s tendency to promote ‘hating’, hence me not posting this to their Vimeo page which would be nasty…. BUT … in the context of it’s being posted as a standard bearer on a short film site – this is woeful. Juvenile, derivative, cod cool tripe. The games cross over is sorely evident, but games have never been at the forefront of advancement of story, style, content, characters or any other tropes, (all of which have always been eagerly & brazenly derivative of cinema and fantasy art) the hugely innovative element of gaming is in it’s vast scale outside of a linear narrative, and the ability for interaction and involvement. Remove those elements and you have this sort of thin, grey green filtered, dead eyed, bullet ridden drivel which amounts to little more than an Alan Partridge wet dream. Dystopian warehouse, police sunglasses, golf gloves, a goth jacket and a fat machine gun, endless gunfire, dead eyed acting, green filter and all assembled with a po face in the hope it’ll come across as dark, gritty and brooding. It doesn’t even want to be a short film, bucking the prerequisite of a story, or ending, or twist, it intentionally, cynically, casts itself as a trailer for something that would presumably have a bigger budget and a longer running time. But would it have a point?

    Is this the stuff you’d like to see picked up by studios – if so I’m genuinely intrigued as to why? …. though having said that … I’m sure they’ll go far :)

  • Raymond

    If I can be honest. I’m rather sick and tired of these EFFECTS SHORT FILMS and that a website that seems to dedicate itself to the art of films fails miserably by uploading stuff like this as the short of the week. Of course I’m going to end up being called a hater but I really don’t care because all that shows is that we’re living in a time of immature thinking and in a world that accepts quantity over quality. Yes, this short has cool looking effects, yes it does have some really cool angles but all we’re getting here is an immature filmmaker with some fancy cameras and software making a pointless advert for himself. I bet this guy doesn’t even know the history of cinema and how important the story is. I’m really tired of these kind of filmmakers being promoted and the worst part is that this website should really be promoting talents out there working hard from nothing but still maintaining an understanding of the story and that of movie making but it seems it’s all too interested in the fancy equipment in which makes it appear like a camera marketing department than an actual short film website.

  • http://www.lucky9studios.com/ Ivan Kander

    Some really astute comments, Griff. I definitely think we’re at the point now where the novelty of the “effects driven” short is starting to wear off. There’s just so much out there that it’s becoming fatiguing to even watch them all. I’m not quite as down on this film as you are (as a motion designer and general geek it’s hard not to admire the slick aesthetic and high production values), but you are right in saying that story is often given short shrift in outings such as this. The one thing you can’t deny is that this sort of film does very well online, and thus that sort of response creates an incentive for young filmmakers to make this sort of product.

    If you’re in the market for cool sci-fi with strong characters and story, be sure to check out Stu Willis’s Payload:
    http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/10/01/payload/

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    I think it’s all about finding the perfect balance – fx heavy pieces won’t stand the test of time unless they have some heart to them. As Ivan pointed out, films like Payload achieve a good balance, adopting a “Sci-fi with a soul” approach.

  • http://twitter.com/toscreenshots James McNally

    I’m not a fan of calling-card effects films, either, Raymond, but to slam SOTW for posting it seems short-sighted. I’ve written here about several short films that are all about story and character and I think as a rule, SOTW posts far more of those kinds of films than not. But the site covers the whole gamut of short filmmaking and to pretend that these films don’t exist or become popular would be doing a disservice to our mandate, I think.

    But I am very glad to see that others feel the way I do about glossy effects-based “trailers.” I was chatting with an agent at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and when he found out I wrote about short films, he wanted me to tip him off about any talented directors I’d come across. Of course, he was referring to people who could deliver an effects-driven box office blockbuster, so you can see why young filmmakers make things like this. They want to be noticed, and Hollywood is looking for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Ooh, some real pushback today. Thanks @disqus_t54E85dexT:disqus and @34dcb4e0aa42e9e0c3966766511a968d:disqus for your passionate responses.

    These films are not “short films” in the sense of what we otherwise cover, and I think the opening line of review addresses that difference. In spite of that, they represent an interesting and important movement for the entire medium of shorts.

    Remember, despite out best efforts, shorts are the neglected step-children of film. Their audience online is relatively small, and half the festivals out there only program them for the submission fees. Filmmakers who do make serious story-based shorts still largely do them as calling-cards for a different audience. These films are important because they HAVE captured the interest of two important constituencies: industry VIPs and online audiences. There is a demand—these films routinely get much more attention and higher view-counts on this site and on YouTube/Vimeo than the nuanced dramas or artistic animation we otherwise cover.

    While cognizant of our role as tastemakers, and the legitimacy we lend, we also try to represent the short film landscape as a whole, and the truth is the fact that these films have created opportunities for filmmakers to break into Hollywood and have demonstrated crossover appeal, makes them part of the most significant development to hit the short film world in a long time, irregardless of personal taste. And we’d be derelict in our mission if we ignored them.

  • douchenugget

    its not that we’re sick of the vfx, its the cliche childhood wet dreams

  • Raymond

    I’m not trashing the site, it’s a good and is one that I admire. All I’m saying is that I’m getting tired of the site and plenty of film people giving these kind of films the time of day when there’s a lot of better stuff out there. It’s glossy and for some reason some people out there enjoy it or feel as if the director is the next best thing, he’s far from it. Very far.

  • Griff

    Yeh – acknowledged. Not a criticism, but I think publishing a manifesto that states putting content and story in higher regard than polished production values, and then posting something that’s clearly a showreel piece, (reminiscent of a videocopilot tutorial video) is where the confusion arises.
    I would never deny, nor would I suggest at all that you guys can ignore the trend and popularity of these clips, just questioning their relevance here. Perhaps it’d be better suited to posting in your ‘articles’ rather than taking the main headline?
    just a thought.
    I know you guys have to get hits yourself. Wouldn’t bother me but there have been a few recently (No Way Out, True Skin) that (possibly) garner as much PR as they do through their being pushed by savvy managers over and above the films stand alone qualities. I’m also probably jealous of the fact I didnt get a SOTW and want their viewing figures :)
    Maybe I should make me a sci fi.

  • checkit
  • CountChocula

    wow what a dead on comment. this is EXACTLY how I feel. Its not the vfx (although these are straight out of video copilot as mentioned) its just that ANYTHING with sci-fi gets attention regardless of whether its any good…even one of a guy aimlessly walking around a desert, as long as he has a helmet on its SOTW winner.. …and I feel the same about all the Scott Glassgold stuff…I cant help but feel that its a “hook up”… if you dont have the strongest story at least give me awesome world building.(the gift)..but rad dudes doing rad things….(the Scott Glassgold choice it seems)…no thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=211600373 Stu Willis

    Thanks for plugging Payload, Ivan :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=211600373 Stu Willis

    Here’s the interesting question I find myself asking… have any of these filmmakers – meaning those of effects-driven teasers – actually produced any features? Or have they simply sold pitches based on the teasers?

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    If you could get Peter Mullan in a sci-fi short….I’m sure we’d all watch that.

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    Fede Alvarez (Panic Attack) got picked up by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House and he is now heading the Evil Dead remake (lets not even get started on why this is being remade!). And obviously Bloomkamp’s ‘District 9′ started life as a short. I’m sure there are a few more who have been signed up for features after making ‘eye-catching’ shorts, but only time will tell if we see features from them (and if they are any good!)

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    Fede Alvarez (Panic Attack) got picked up by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House and he is now heading the Evil Dead remake (lets not even get started on why this is being remade!). And obviously Bloomkamp’s ‘District 9′ started life as a short. I’m sure there are a few more who have been signed up for features after making ‘eye-catching’ shorts, but only time will tell if we see features from them (and if they are any good!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=211600373 Stu Willis

    Fede Alvarez is probably the best mention there. I didn’t realise he was doing Evil Dead. Props!!

    Neill Blomkampp is a different example, as District 9 only got reverse-engineered from the short after Halo fell over. He also had a very strong body of work in his short films – there was a clear sense of voice – and a strong body of commercial work.

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    Bang on Mr Willis. Fede did well for himself (but we’ll have to wait and see how his feature career goes) and Blomkamp is a different kettle of fish.

    There are some others that have been picked up by studios, but again we now just wait to see what happens next

    http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/07/21/ruin-picked-up-by-fox/
    http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2011/12/10/jesus-orellanas-rosa-to-be-made-into-feature-film-by-fox/

  • Dan

    Well, I don’t know what to say. I watched to the end in case a story appeared. It didn’t.

    The crew obviously worked hard and reproduced the effects well, but this is just an orgy of effects from tutorials on film riot and from video co-pilot. i didn’t see any original work, and there was no real story to tie the reason for any of the effects to each other. It’s great that people are taking the tutorials and using them, but they are supposed to teach you how to use the tools, not to be used et al in a movie.

    I don’t know. I’m not impressed by a film with SO much effort put in replicating effects line for line from tutorials, and mashing them into a script written in 5 minutes by someone who just wrote it to fit in all of the effects!

  • Notsogood

    Unoriginal, ill thought fights, and lazy script, sorry but I´m in slick films as much as any other guy, but this is just lame and derivative.

  • Neh

    That was shit

  • Meh

    Yeah this was bland boring stuff. Good if your a 15 year old.

  • Mpoehner

    it had potential for the first 60 seconds, but really lacked story. A good film needs more than a decent camera and up to date editing software.

  • Anonymous

    Unlike most people here, my problem with the film isn’t the fact that it’s a VFX-driven “calling-card” film. I’ve seen plenty of sci-fi films worth viewing on SOTW because of their technical and/or artistic significance. The real problem here is simply that the film is just plain bad. The VFX and production value, basically the whole point of the project, are substandard even to the untrained eye. Calling-card film? Ha, are you kidding me? The terrible sound design — the generic futuristic sounds from a sound bank. The amateur VFX — the crappy bullets in almost every shot especially when they “pierce” through the pool table. The low production value — how they not-so-subtlely evaded showing the entirety of the protagonist’s black vehicle as it was parking because it probably was just a regular car (ha). And people are worried about SOTW uploading too many VFX, calling-card films? Ha, give me a break. They just uploaded a bad film. Period. That’s the real problem.

  • rob

    Despite all the hating on this video. I really liked it. I would never say this short film has “brains” and it definitely lacked any sort of wrap up. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but it has it’s own appeal (a la Dredd and Ninja Assassin).

  • rob

    Despite all the hating on this video. I really liked it. I would never say this short film has “brains” and it definitely lacked any sort of wrap up. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but it has it’s own appeal (a la Dredd and Ninja Assassin).