At 7:30pm, Kathleen Shin and Sean Jackson, founders of Somnium Productions, were introduced and welcomed nearly a full audience. Sean stated, “Just the fact that we are here with you all, another big crowd, after our first attempt... alot of people put alot of time and effort into the movies we are gonna see tonight; again we just have to see some of the best film-making, acting, creative community here in Las Vegas out there.” The premiere of these films on December 21st, “Take One” was rough around the edges with many technical difficulties. With the help of RAVE and their crew, Somnium Productions was able to turn it all around with a great showing the films deserved.
The first of the short film of the evening was "Cunning Linguist" A half baked bank robbery is attempted by a group of misfit numskulls, who instead find nothing but trouble at every turn. Filmed all around town, the crew got kicked out of Las Vegas Academy twice and even got permits to carry around and shoot replica guns. Director Mitch Ebert mentioned, “This means alot to me... started making the film two years ago.” In many aspects, the time and effort put in shined through in the writing, acting, and camera work, but it could have used more substance. While at first I found myself amused, I began to lose interest as character patterns began repeating themselves. [ Rating: C- ]
The story behind the next film, "Bubblegum & Broken Fingers" was inspired by and shot on location in Nelson, Nevada. Written and directed by Sean Jackson, with Danish as director of photography, the script, framing, and actor selection were all top notch. Humbly, Sean noted "Film-making is the most collaborative artist thing anyone can do, and I relied on the help of so many people..." Sean made several bold choices with Bubblegum, including German dialogue, a mute character, and closed the movie silent, backed only by nine solid minutes of John Lee Hooker and Johnny Cash. Although these radical decisions can make or break an entire project, this film just got better with each minute and wrapped up beautifully. Initially I was intrigued by the title, but now that I understand the meaning to "Bubblegum and Broken Fingers." I'm enthralled. [ Rating: A ]
Introducing the movie the majority of the audience came to see, Sean proudly announced, "Let me tell you... If you are at all easily offended, if you do not like racial jokes, if you are sensitive in any way, get out right now." "Sweet Ninja Brown" is about Leon Brown, who finally decides what he wants to be when he grows up, a black ninja. After a sweet montage, fitting back story, and hilarious circumstances of rival gangs, Leon quickly finds himself a wanted ninja. This film was a blend of modern day urban comedy and 70s kung-fu blacksplotation. Dynamic characters each perfectly fit their roll, deliver quick punchlines, all with great camera angles. All costumes, weapons, and props were all made from scratch and the choreography, completed by Steve 'Beef Brocolli' Chong , took eight months to complete. The dedication that went into Sweet Ninja Brown was clearly apparent, it reflected well on screen, and often had the viewers bursting in laughter. [ Rating: B+]
Be sure to keep an eye out for Somnium Productions, as they still continue to create films here in Las Vegas, and help expand the community's interest and industry in film-making. Sean Jackson is planning to follow up "Bubblegum and Broken Fingers" with a second act "Hand Job" (which was cast this week), and a third act "Exchange," hopefully ready to premiere by July 30th. I am also happy to report that on February 2nd, Sweet Ninja Brown won the "Award of Merit" at the Best Shorts Competition Film Festival in California. I certainly look forward to what Somnium Productions has to offer, because Take Two was a knockout!
* "Cunning Linguist" (Written by Mitch Ebert & Chris “Danish” Andersen [Gorilla Suit Productions], Directed by Mitch Ebert)
* "Bubblegum & Broken Fingers" (Written and Directed by Sean Jackson)
* "Sweet Ninja Brown" (Written by Sean Jackson, Directed by Alberto Triana)
Originally published on Stardust Fallout 03 February 2011