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Watch: Short Film Series Twentieth Century Faux, by Jake and Will

With a sea of short films washing up on the shores of YouTube and Vimeo each day, how can filmmakers make their work stand out? One team with a solution is Jake & Will — Will Blank and Jake Bradbury — for whom their 16-episode online short film series Twentieth Century Faux is both a smartly packaged exploration of millennial anxieties as well as a kind of personal filmmaking challenge that connects these two filmmakers back to the essential pleasures of making movies. The shorts run from one to three minutes each, are released weekly, are titled after well-known movies, and, most importantly, are each shot in a day — and in sometimes as little as three hours. Subjects include VR alienation, unwanted dick picks, and Dungeons and Dragons, and each short is accompanied by a podcast episode in which the creators break down that week’s film. For a tale of a crumbling (?) relationship and a parking space, watch the just-released L.A. Story, above, and then listen to the podcast episode about its making.

From the press release, here are the director’s notes:

Though we have both been gainfully employed within the film industry, Jake working for CBS and Will for the Starz show Counterpart, we were each creatively unfulfilled, rarely ever having time to work on our own projects. What we found (like many others who move to LA) was that the time and money required to make short films, much less a feature, was almost insurmountable. This ultimately is why we conceived of shooting these 16 short films. Each film was made on the weekends in our spare time with whatever crew was available. Gradually, a small community of regular collaborators emerged, and with them, we found that we were able to quickly execute the ideas that came up in brainstorming sessions. We found a new kind of spontaneity possible, where we valued the “doing” over preparation or planning. It freed us up to try whatever we could think up (that we could afford). Failure was not an obstacle. If something didn’t work, fine. On to the next.

We found that themes began to emerge from the shorts, often about the contradiction between the 24/7 social connectivity offered by modern technology and the persistent loneliness and disconnection we all feel in spite (or because) of it. The dark humor and sense of loss in the shorts comes from living in the cracks of personal time afforded by demanding modern day jobs, where we often find ourselves caught in a Matrix-y loop of going to work, getting home late only to go to sleep and do it all over again. Through this project we met new collaborators, exercised our filmmaking skills, created art with our closest friends, and renewed our love of filmmaking. We hope that the spirit of that is imbued in these shorts.

Filmmaker readers will remember Will Blank’s previous short, Limbo, that starred Sam Elliott.

For all of the shorts — eight of which are currently online, with the remainder going up in the next two weeks — visit the Twentieth Century Faux site.

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