The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Meet Their Shorts

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 5, 2005 3:51PM

We’re not sure why it took so long for the Asbury Shorts touring festival to make it to Chicago but we’re glad it’s here in time for the 25th Anniversary of the fest. Born on Asbury St. in Long Island, NY, Asbury Shorts gets its Chicago premiere this Thursday night at the Vic at 7:30 PM. Reserving tickets ahead of time saves you three bucks although tickets can still be purchased at the door on the night of the show for $15. To make your reservations and get that discount, e-mail or call 312-458-9930.

Unlike many of the other festivals playing around town, Asbury Shorts takes place over one night and features 14 award-winning short films from other fests. The shorts cover such Seinfeld-ian topics as buying a pet fish, recording the ultimate outgoing answering machine message and the most erotic lunch hour ever. Plus: ninjas courtesy of Illinois filmmaker Peter Craig. Click here for a full listing of the films (Word file).

Yesterday the associate producer of Asbury Shorts revealed to Chicagoist that the host for the evening’s festivities would be none 2005_04_05_smithpic.jpgother than Scott Smith. Chicagoist was both honored and sort of taken aback at the presumptuousness of not even being asked but then we realized he meant the other Scott Smith, local director and Project Greenlight finalist for the film Ten. He’ll probably be pretty good too.

Chicagoist chatted with Elise Kleinman, the producer of Asbury Shorts, who talked about how she got involved with the fest, how hard it is to find the right time and place for such an event and why she likes Chicago’s film scene better than New York’s. (Take that, big sister!)

Chicagoist: How did you get started with Asbury Shorts?

Elise Kleinman: I actually moved here about a year and a half ago from New York. I had a very good friend who was involved with it and, in fact, have to admit I didn’t know anything about it. In New York, it had been done for 25 years—the reason it’s called “Asbury” is because the guys that started it had their first meeting was on Asbury St. on Long Island. Then about four years ago they decided, after having done it for 21 years at that point, that the advertising industry would be a great group to target a show to because a lot of the directors that do shorts also do commercial work. I’m a commercial producer so my friend said “Oh my god, you’d be the perfect person to do this.” And I don’t turn things down that sound exciting to me and I don’t do things half-assed so I’m like “Well, I guess I’ll do it but that means I’ll have to devote a ton of time” and that’s what I did. I wanted to bring it here a year ago but I thought it was better for me to take more time to really put the thing together.

It’s hard when you bring something like this to a city for the first time ‘cause there are so many festivals in Chicago. Ours is different because it’s one night, it’s all different shorts from different festivals and there’s no “winner.” It’s just “Oh let’s have a nice night of showing people good short films.” We just want people to see it and get to know us.

C: So you tried to do this last year?

EK:I moved in October of 2003 and I was like “Oh I’m going to be able to do it in six months” and I wanted to do it in June or July [of 2004]. And then I said “You know what? I just got here.” I didn’t really know enough people here to really make it work and thought “Let’s do this in October.” So we picked a date in October and then realized it was when the Chicago International Film Festival closing day was gonna be and we didn’t want to compete with that. So that’s how we picked this day. Every time I’ve postponed it, I’ve picked up one or two committee members. I think it’s all worked out for the best.

Doing it at the Vic is more appropriate for this type of show. Originally, we thought about the Chicago Historical Society but that’s just a more formal kind of thing. For the group we’re trying to bring in, we just felt like it was more appropriate to do it in a more fun kind of atmosphere.

C: Have you see any of the shorts?

EK:Yes, I have.

C: Do you have a favorite?

EK:I do! It’s called Fait D’Hiver [Note: this film was a 2002 Oscar Nominee for Best Live Action Short Film]. The Bloody Olive, I liked too. It’s between those two. I like intrigue and mystery so I don’t want to give too much away.

C: Is this the same show that played in New York?

EK:It’s the 25th Anniversary of the show. Ours, from the get-go, was a “Best of” type of show. So it worked out because this year’s New York show was more of like a “Best of” show but ours has a few different ones than that one.

C: What do you think of the Chicago film scene as opposed to the New York film scene?

EK:It’s obviously smaller but I feel like it’s more--and I mean this in a good way--incestuous. People are so much more willing to help people and people travel in the same circles. It’s not that hard to really immerse yourself in it, I think. There are so many websites of filmmakers in Chicago and just being an IFP member has helped me get to know a lot of those groups. You just find really good quality people and you always know somebody that they know. New York’s just harder to deal with a lot of things. You might have a lot of resources around you but the people just aren’t as nice or wanting to help and willing to do things for free. I found that here.