Anyone who's ever lamented the lack of creative possibilities in Atlanta is advised to hightail it to the highly reassuring garden of indie delights, Dailies 4: Back Story / Back Image at PushPush Theater. It provides ample evidence that local filmmakers are sowing a fertile regional movie scene.
Inaugurated in March 2002, the quarterly Dailies events give filmmakers the chance to make short movies according to changing themes. One program had three different filmmaking teams adapt the same play; another one featured a group-made mockumentary. The Dailies mission is to encourage collaborations between the city's indie filmmakers and Atlanta's wealth of thespian talent, says Rob Nixon, who, along with Claire Bronson and Jacob Genry, coordinates the events.
Dailies 4: Backstory / Back Image is a combination class project and creative truth-or-dare. The assignment for the nine participating filmmakers was to make a short film inspired by a 1968 black-and-white photograph: Robert Adams' "Colorado Springs." Sandwiched between films like the striking "Loss" and "Goodbye Day," which plumb the photograph's emotional discontent, are clips from Kelby Kessler's hilarious guy-on-the-street interviews of passersby responding to that same Adams photo.
Many of the films tend toward the laddish, with a predominance of guy themes featuring gunplay and hot-and-cold running babes. But despite the occasional testosteronal tendency, the participating filmmakers offer an unpredictably delirious range of inventive, non sequitur and plainly silly reactions to Adams' moody snapshot. Though it is the sketch comedy anarchy of films like the Itaki Design Studio's "Sometime Later ..." and Workhouse Digital Pictures' "Dial a Hitman!" (both distinguished by inspired performances of thuggery from Randy Cohlmia) that seemed to strike the biggest chord with the opening night audience, it was also nice to see at least one filmmaker, Robin Brasington, goosing the comfort level a little with her Kenneth Anger-esque, creepy experimental short "Separation."
The most poignant in this strong and highly entertaining Dailies 4 program is Psychopia Films' lovely "Goodbye Day," featuring an affecting Adrian Roberts as a beaten, worn-out elderly man who returns to the woman and the house he left behind. Like several of the productions, the film boasts a lean, tight storyline and exceptional performances.
More often, the films in Dailies offer unapologetically wacky responses to the assignment, with the filmmakers clearly juiced about indulging their creative impulses as in the whip smart playboy's lament "Clive Coopecheski is Dead" from Eyekiss Films. Absurd comedy is also in the house with "Cat Scratch Fever," which only glancingly references Adams' photograph but certainly gives full comic vent to the deliciously goofy Courtney Patterson as a deep-fried neurotic. "Members" is another expression of the peculiar dips and summits of individual psyche with its witty, economical story of a sexy political canvasser (Claire Bronson) who unleashes the libidinal moorings of a sleepy-eyed, absurdly earnest Liberal Guy (Brad Brooks), bowled over by this Utne Reader fantasy babe on his doorstep.
With style to burn, local wunderkinds POPfilms offer a sexy, self-referential meta-Adaptation in their comic, movie- crazed thriller "Stanley." A baby-faced director (Jacob Gentry) chews the creative cud with his pothead roommate (David Bruckner), debating the best way to approach his own hilariously second-generation Vertigo-cum-Body Double-cum-Adaptation cineaste's opus. Wickedly clever, "Stanley" offers no better evidence that Atlanta's indie scene is the reel deal.