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The seminal short films of Hollywood heavy weights

The gateways through which directors transition from nobodies to cult favourites, laying their foundation for future stardom.

Young, autonomous, free of mind and spirit, and without the influence of big budgets and ownership control, early short films perhaps capture the true essence of a director.

Here are a few of Film Construction's favourites.

Martin Scorsese, The Big Shave (1967)

A satirical piece on the Vietnam War. As the man refuses to acknowledge his loss of blood and continues his shave, so does America continue to fight in a bloody and tragic war.

Wes Anderson, Bottle Rocket (1994)

A black comedy about two amateur crooks, shot in B&W with a soundtrack of Sonny Rollins, Duke Ellington and Vince Guaraldi. The film hints at the unmistakably meticulous and quirky framing of Wes Anderson, though his directorial style is not yet fully formed. The young Luke and Owen Wilson are energetic and entertaining, and 2 years later the short film was remade into the feature length Bottle Rocket.

George Lucas, Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, 1967

An archetypal dystopian future in which citizens are imprisoned within a subterranean world. The story follows the pursuit by government officials of an enlightened subject attempting escape, in a short more concerned with aesthetics than narrative. Filled with dark synth soundscapes, echoing voices, close ups of flashing buttons, long shots of sterile and empty interiors, and a mise-en-scene of retro-futurism, the mood elicits a detached yet uncomfortable intrigue towards this peculiar world. As much as FC admires Star Wars, Electronic Labyrinth perhaps traces the passage of a talented director who transitioned from art-film to conventional action narratives.

David Lynch, Six Men Getting Sick (1966)

If Electronic Labyrinth is aesthetically driven, then Six Men Getting Sick is pure audio-visual art. The short establishes Lynch’s unnerving style at the young age of 20, as well as his supreme ability of matching audio to visual.

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