Gorilla Film Magazine is still making use of the free drinks at the 4Q films screening, when the lights finally dim and Anton Short steps into the spotlight. Hurriedly, we sit down, and merge with the small crowd of friends and co-workers, still gulping at the wine and beer, and spilling salted peanuts into our laps.
“I actually wrote something for the occasion” says Anton, as he prepares to show his portfolio of short films, that he made under the 4Q films title “it was clever, full of gags, nothing like this.” everyone laughs, Anton seems like a nice chap and the relaxed atmosphere, and free bottles of social lubricant, puts us in a fine mood.
The portfolio is a selection of short films and even shorter sketches, the latter being performed by So On And So Forth, three comedy performers who seem like they’re destined for great things. Anton’s films are both funny and cruel, but also surprisingly warm. Living With Mum tells the story of a man’s awkward relationship with his mother, which was strained when she was alive, and even worse now that she’s undead. Sharing a house with zombie mum might be really annoying for young Jake, but it gives him a chance to work through some issues, and patch things up. The film has an element of Braindead, which of course you can trace back to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but this is just a superficial resemblance and actually the tone is very different. Living With Mum is not a horror film, in fact it’s the cuddliest short at the 4Q screening, with a genuine sweetness, evoking lighthearted laughs.
Suicide Tuesday, on the other hand, is a little different.
“I didn’t mean to go so far with that one,” says Anton apologetically “it ended up quite dark.” It’s the better for it; Suicide Tuesday is a gleefully cruel tale of a man who attempts to commit suicide, only to be told he needs a permit “I think it’s a universal feeling, it’s hard not to get fed up with all the bureaucracy that controls our lives. I was fairly pissed off when I wrote that script.” Despite the grim concept, there’s still a jolliness to the film which appears to be a staple of Anton’s work, indeed the tagline for 4Q films is ‘Serious about Silly’ and I think that rather elegantly sums up the theme.
The final short film was Tube Rage, a fun little sketch shot on the London Underground. The film shows off some rather wonderful prosthetics from make-up artist Hayley Barkway, who worked on the film for her graduation.
Says Barkway “I liked the idea of a classical werewolf character in such a modern setting. Although actually shooting on location was a nightmare; we didn’t have much time at all” in the film, a frustrated individual succumbs to Tube Rage and literally transforms into a beast man. The film is funny, but ends all too abruptly, perhaps a consequence of shooting in such a difficult environment. “The guy in the make-up is my boyfriend,” adds Barkway “he’s not an actor, but he’s someone I had regular access to! He actually got quite into it, but it must have been strange for other people on the tube, seeing this werewolf walking around”.
“Thanks for your patience,” says Anton, after the quickest screening Gorilla Film Magazine has ever been to “please stick around, there’s lot of interesting people to talk to, and more importantly there’s alcohol”.
We congratulate Anton Short on his pleasant screening, and ask him about his decision to have such a small gathering of people in such a spacious venue “I should have invited more people, shouldn’t I?” he sighs “or got a smaller venue, the place looks empty!” we ask him what’s next for 4Q films “right now I’m just plugging these films, and wondering whether I should just make them available to watch online. They’re not at the moment because I want them eligible for festivals, but now I’m thinking I’d rather just have as many people watching them as possible. That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?”
The people at the event all seem to be either involved in Anton’s projects or just enthusiastic friends, so this feels less like a screening and more like a celebration. However, 4Q films could certainly do with some more exposure, the shorts were fantastic, and Gorilla Film Magazine has a lot of respect for such a noble cause. There seems to be a focus on comedy that has a strong narrative, as well as a genuine passion for taking silly ideas seriously.
Check out the 4Q films website, to learn more and watch some funny clips.
You can also follow Anton Short on Tw*tter by clicking on this link.