It is rare in the DiY-world of internet short film to have a truly anticipated event, but the buzz for Ghost Stories over the past several months has been palpable. Part of it is the novelty—a collaborative project of this scale, pulled off independently is pretty much without precedent—part of it is the sheer quality of the contributors. 17 creators total have banded together under the Late Night Work Club banner, and several of the names are familiar to SotW-fans, including Dave Prosser, Eamonn O’Neill, Conor Finnegan, Jake Armstrong and Sean Buckelew.
Tomorrow we’ll publish a think-piece to further explore the Late Night Work Club model, and see what it promises and portends for short film online, but today we’ll cover the product itself, an omnibus comprised of 11 distinct short films.
At 38 minutes, Ghost Stories, taken as a whole, falls into the category of a mid-length film. Whatever awkwardness this entails is mitigated by the fact that the individual works are short, and stylistically diverse, so attention does not waver. There is a downside however as well, which is that, at an average of 3minutes per, none of the films have the opportunity to be expansive and allow you to really sink your teeth into the world or story. The result is some uneven bits of storytelling, but what is uniformly excellent, and sure to be the primary draw, is the excellent design that is showcased, as all of participants are truly world class.
There is no common storytelling thread, so one is able to jump around to the various pieces, and knowing the short-attention spans, and view-at-work habits of many of you, the film is ideal to be consumed in chunks. If you click through to the Vimeo clip page, the crew has added timecodes to the description so you can selectively view or revisit favorites. My personal picks? Charles Huettner’s The Jump is a visually impressive piece of spooky fantasy, with a pitch-perfect twist ending that just nails the spirit and format of the project. On the non-narrative front, Caleb Wood, who has impressed us on Vimeo with his diversity and creative experimentalism, turns in the most freakishly scary entry in Rat Trap.
As both a showcase of talent and unified piece of media, Ghost Stories delivers on the hype. It would be great to see this mode of presentation imitated and expanded. There is room to innovate still within the format as well. I’d love to see more collaboration in individual pieces, producing works that are longer and more narratively complex—reminiscent of the great anime anthology films like Memories or Robot Carnival. Part of getting there is proving to creators that this is a worthwhile endeavor though, so I encourage you to take a look at the items the team has for sale, or consider donating through Vimeo’s Tip Jar.