Short film recommendations from the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival – Part Two

by Martin Hafer

In the previous article, I mentioned a few shorts that really impressed me or made me laugh.

But there were simply too many for one article and I have six more here that are well worth your time.

The Fear Inside

Rick Hamilton has crafted a gripping story about a woman with severe agoraphobia.  However, through the course of the film, she starts to think that perhaps what’s inside her apartment when she sleeps is worse and scarier than all the things she imagines are outside!  After all, footprints start appearing in her bedroom and she sees more and more of the each time she awakens!

What I loved about this film is how well the plight of an agoraphobe is portrayed.  I also appreciate how the viewer is left wondering just how much of the woman’s fear is real and what is not.  This sort of ambiguity is exciting and the film keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat as they watch.  A simple story, yet very, very well done.

Fire on the Green

Fire on the Green was made as part of a 48 hour challenge–a film contest in which filmmakers have to complete a short film from start to finish in only two days.  Because of time constraints, 48 hour films have almost nothing in the way of budgets and they are very rough…such is the nature of such projects.  However, despite the film’s shortcomings, it is, above all other things, hilarious!

The film is a mockumentary that talks about a fictional sports battle that shook the world back around the time of World War II.  America’s best miniature golfer was battling the Nazi’s best mini golfer in a battle that would make the Max Schmelling/Joe Lewis fights look insignificant by comparison!

Despite the cheesy props, mustaches that fall off and an utterly ridiculous premise, the film worked well because the writing was funny and kept the audience laughing.  And, if you do see this wonderfully dopey film, you might want to know that the man called Mr. Pamplemousse is, in French, Mr. Grapefruit and all the German dialog is complete nonsense!

By the way, the film had two directors (Tony Ahedo and Nick Lennon) and Tony is now working on a comedic web series (Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer).  I haven’t seen enough of the series to recommend it, but I like what I saw.

Office Pranks

This might be one of the darkest and cruelest comedies I’ve seen in some time but it’s well worth seeing.  When Rob comes to work for a company, he has to share an office with Jerry.  However, his office mate turns out to be a serious jokester and plays prank after prank on the new guy.  But these aren’t ordinary pranks…and over time it escalates to an insanely ridiculous level.  What makes it funnier is that no one at the company sees any problem with Jerry’s ‘harmless pranks’…such as burning down the guy’s home or kidnapping his wife!  It’s so incredibly absurd…to the point where it’s so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh.  And, as the pranks become more and more vicious, Rob slowly begins to lose his mind!  Truly a film about e–when folks derive extreme pleasure watching the miserable things happening to another person!  Expertly crafted, funny and a short you won’t soon forget!  A.J. Korkidakis really impressed me both with his direction and his hilarious script.

Star Child

This sci-fi film is about a mother who is very depressed.  Her child is missing and the mother has no memory of what happened when the kid disappeared.  Her marriage is a mess and she’s been seeing a hypnotherapist to try to piece together what happened to the boy.  Ultimately, she’s able to recall his being abducted…by some sort of aliens.

In many ways, this film plays like parts of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The big difference is that this Spielberg film cost a fortune to make…and the finale of Star Child was done on the cheap…though it sure looks very expensive and realistic!  This was, to me, the most technologically advanced and breathtaking short at the festival and I simply cannot believe how good a job Tommy Demos did directing the film and created a very cinematic sort of picture.

You can visit the Star Child website here: Also, www.Facebook/starchildfilm and Instagram: starchildfilm

Zero Hour

The film is set in the home of a woman obsessed with aliens.  She apparently saw one when she was a child and it promised to one day return for her.  In the meantime, the Earth is being destroyed by wars, terrorism and human nature and the film shows the lady counting down the hours until her friend’s return.  However, the plan isn’t going to go quite as promised and the alien is coming…but perhaps not for her as originally planned.

Zero Hour really created a great mood…very foreboding, tense and exciting.  Also, at the end of the film, director Karl Huber showed enough of “Baxter” to give the film a realistic look…and to make the viewer want to see more!  In fact, it encouraged me to see Huber’s other film in the festival, the very dark but exciting full-length picture, The Broadcast…which is also well worth your time.


Tommy Demos, producer/director of Star Child and Karl Huber, writer/director of Zero Hour at a question and answer session following their films.

I Hate the Color Red

Jazmin Jamias wrote and directed this short about a brother and sister who own a DVD rental store.   Not surprisingly, Sophie and Junior are struggling to keep this store going in the age or Red Box, Netflix and the internet…but they try because the store had been started by their deceased parents.  On a lark, Sophie decides to make a short film about their plight and enters it in a film festival…and is shocked to not only win but get a lot of attention for their struggling store.

While the plot is pretty simple and not essentially exciting, how this is handled is the key.  The characters (particularly Junior) are well written and very exciting to watch and not surprisingly the film earned awards at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival including: Best Student Film, Best Supporting Actor.  Easy to like and fun.