by Mark Rabinowitz
Next month, fXM: Movies From Fox will air the second group of six original
short films produced by the network, and directed by seven independent
filmmakers. The first edition, which included Academy Award winner
Jessica Yu's "Better Late," has played at some 60 film festivals around
the world in the past year and one of the films in the second edition,
David Birdsell's "Phil Touches Flo," screened at this year's Sundance
The six films in this second group are a mix of first-time efforts and
continuing work from directors with previous shorts under their belts.
"The Housekeeper" is a touching drama by first-timer Nancy Keystone
about a woman with a psychic healing connection to the people whose
houses she cleans and to the houses themselves; Ryan Rowe's debut
film "I'm on Fire" is a surreal and hysterical look at a man on fire;
David Birdsell's sophomore effort, "Phil Touches Flo" revolves around a
man who doesn't react well when his dog Flo is handled by someone else;
"One Hand, Left" by veteran short filmmaker Corky Quakenbush is a tale of
jealously told from the point of view of a left hand who is being
dominated by his right partner; Betsy F. Thomas' "Pam Flam & The
Center of the Universe" is an off-beat look at falling in love and how it
changes the way people look at the world around them, and Victor
Fanucci & Matt Nix's "First Prince" is different look at a classic fairy tale.
The group of films, five comedies and one drama, have at the core of them the
energy given to projects by eager, young filmmakers and the "go-for-broke"
attitude that often surround projects like these. The works were screened
for cast and in Los Angeles last week. Asked about working with fXM,
filmmaker Betsy Thomas told indieWIRE that "it was just a great experience
which changed a lot for me, creatively. I loved making the film and it made it
really clear to me that I wanted to be a filmmaker."
The fXM Shorts program also helps filmmakers in another, more tangible way.
"It's hard because it's expensive and there's no money (returned) generally
out of a short which was a nice thing about (working with fXM). Having it paid
for and produced," said Birdsell. His previous film, "Blue City," played at the
1997 Sundance Film Festival and Aspen Shorts fest among others, and it was
at Aspen where he met series producer, Kim Adelman. After speaking with her,
and finding out that fXM was going to do a second series of films, he
submitted an idea for "Phil Touches Flo" and the network took it from there.
While Birdsell had a previous short and a script for a second film, Thomas had
only an idea. "I got in touch with Kim Adelman and told her I had an idea for
a film. She liked it, I did a script and (fXM) liked it and decided to do it."
Both Birdsell and Thomas are working on feature screenplays, but neither of
them rule out more shorts. "I love shorts," said Thomas. "The reason I did
"Pam Flam" as a short was that I had the idea and it was perfect for a short.
You couldn't really make it into anything more. If I have another (short) idea,
I would definitely (shoot it)." Birdsell feels much the same way, telling
indieWIRE that while the current plan is to make a feature, "who knows...I
like making shorts. If things lead in that direction, I'll definitely do it."
[fXM Shorts II premieres on fXM on April 17th at 8pm.]