Manhattan Shorts Fest Set To Bow In September...Outdoors!
by Mark Rabiowitz
Nicholas Mason is a man with a plan. A plan to turn New York City into
Shorts City. Mason is the executive director of the inaugural Manhattan
Short Film Festival (MSFF), set to take place on Sunday, September 27th.
One of the things that makes this festival different from most others,
however, is that the films are being screened outdoors on three screens
on Mulberry Street in Little Italy — that and the staggering amount of
goods and services to be handed to the winner of the festival. As of this
week, the winner of the fest stands to receive a prize package valued
at $270,000, including 54,000 feet of Fuji film stock, a Panavision 35mm
camera package, 6-8 weeks time in a digital editing suite, opening titles
from R/Greenberg, among others.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Mason attended acting school in his
native country and found it difficult to get work upon leaving school.
Instead, he bounced around Thailand, Turkey, the Middle East and Eastern
Europe before making his way to New York. Once in New York, he immersed
himself in the city’s performing arts world, doing Off-Broadway plays
and appearing in student films for NYU and the School of Visual Arts
(SVA). He was especially drawn to the energy surrounding student films,
saying, “I suppose it was the fact that it was just people going out and
doing films which is what it was all about.”
“Just going out and doing it” was pretty much how the MSFF took shape.
When attending SVA’s Dusty Awards (presented to graduating students for
short film work — Mason was in one of the films) he was struck by the
effort and dedication put forth by the honored filmmakers. “The artwork,
the camera angles, the edits, the performances they extracted were
wonderful.” While at the ceremony, Mason noticed an apparent lack of
acquisition activity there, “If I ran one of those studios…I would
have sent the coffee boy just out of respect,” he explained, adding that
he became determined to find a showcase for short films in New York.
What Mason seems to be getting at is that short films are a fertile
breeding ground for up-and-coming directors, and it’s about time that
some distributors start to take notice. Regarding his selection process,
Mason reveals that he would like to see some more international entries.
“I’m getting so many in from America, that I want to get the class in
from Europe. It’s got to be (an) Olympiad.”
To be trite for a moment, only time will tell if Mason’s vision is
realized to its potential fulfilled, as the MSFF actually does become a
place where producers and development execs scout for “the next big
thing.” However, In the meantime, Mason and his tiny staff are working
feverishly to pull off what appears to be a gargantuan task.
[For more info on the MSFF, check out their web site at:
www.msff.com, or call their 24-hour entry line and voice mail at: