News Column

Laugh out loud at a traveling 90-minute film festival Thursday night in Camarillo

June 21, 2013

YellowBrix

June 21--Soda just might shoot out of your nose when Joe Edick brings what he describes as the antidote for long and snooty film festivals to Camarillo next week.

Edick's traveling brainchild, the second annual Laugh Out Loud Short Film Fest, rolls into the Roxy Stadium 11 theaters in Camarillo on Thursday night.

It turns the conventional film festival on its ear with a sampler plate -- a one-day, one-off event. Heck, it's not even one day: The Laugh Out Loud festival consists of nine comedy shorts crammed into a single 90-minute film.

"We've condensed the film festival experience into an hour-and-a-half program for the casual moviegoer," said Edick, the Laugh Out Loud festival's executive director.

In other festivals that range from a long weekend to 11 days, he noted, the abundance of material can seem overwhelming.

"You pretty much need a vacation to attend one," he said. "And let's face it: There's a hint of pretentiousness associated with them as well."

He can say that. Early last decade, Edick founded and was president of a three-day festival. While he enjoyed it, he always thought another opportunity was beckoning out there somewhere.

Edick, whose longtime Pelican Productions is based in Muskegon, Mich., hit upon the idea of a short, traveling film festival. He and others decided to focus on comedy shorts, based on their universal appeal -- or as he put it, "Everyone likes to laugh, right?"

So this isn't George Clooney or Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet at Cannes. Among the subjects in this year's Laugh Out Loud lineup are a puppet named Howard who apparently drinks in the dark, a man whose hangover has a name, an awkward first date that's marred by a bodily malfunction, and a spoof on a fake product that instantly prevents children from throwing tantrums.

Only one thing more fun

It's edgier comedy than last year's inaugural Laugh Out Loud run, Edick noted. Across the board, he added, it's basically R-rated material (even though it doesn't carry an official MPAA rating).

Fringe comedy, he noted, can be polarizing. Website pages boast that this year's lineup is unrated, uncut and unapologetic, and not for the easily offended.

"Some of the humor in a few of them is different," Edick said. "Some people get it, some people don't. Some people are easily offended; for others, it doesn't matter."

The event has a certain vibe, down to the T-shirts available for $16.95 at lolsff.com. They sport such lines as "Only 1 thing is more fun in the dark," "Just try not to pee yourself," and, yes, "Soda actually shot out of my nose."

Attendees can vote for their favorite of the nine shorts in the Audience Choice Award. An on-screen announcement at the end will prompt them to use their cellphone to text their vote.

The Roxy audience in Camarillo will have to wait a bit to find out who wins. The 2013 Laugh Out Loud festival began May 23 and will continue through Aug. 25, and Edick indicated there might be more showings in other cities in the fall.

Screenings this year are being held in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.

In addition, a jury made up of film buyers will select a Best Short Film winner, Edick said.

The universal language

Edick said they received entries from 10 countries for this year's festival. A committee of film industry people and fans whittled it down to the final nine.

"We watch every one of them, as a group," Edick said.

Though they all have their own preferences, the bottom line, he added, is "Did we think it was funny?" Art might be in the eye of the beholder, but in comedy, he opined, "funny is funny. I've told some people that 'I don't care if this star or that star was in it -- it wasn't funny.' And I've taken some flak for that."

The nine film shorts range from 19 minutes in length all the way down to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Six of them are from the United States, two from Canada and one from Australia.

"We want people to see the quality work that is being done by total unknowns on the bottom rungs of the film industry," he said. "That's what every film festival is about -- or should be about."

Edick averred that Laugh Out Loud will continue as an annual event, and he hopes to get it into more theaters. It's a tough juggling act, he noted, to find screen time amid all the major studio releases.

The number of films selected will vary from year to year, he indicated, though practical considerations play a role, too. The inaugural run in 2012 featured 17 shorts running about two hours, but they got feedback from theater owners indicating it was too long.

It seems they've got short on the brain, right down to the event's official title. If nothing else, Edick said slyly, they're trying to cut the "-ival" out of the word "festival."

Here are thumbnail sketches of the nine comedy shorts screening next week as part of the Laugh Out Loud Film Fest in Camarillo.

"Status Update: A Facebook Fairytale": Allan's status updates are ALL freaking coming true!

"Dream Job": Dave Koumanzales is an out-of-work filmmaker who's been selling his comic book collection to pay his rent. Just as he's about to give up hope, he's offered what he thinks is his dream job a chance to work for George Lucas.

"Charles, Your Hangover": After a night of excess at the local pub, Martin discovers the true cause of a hangover. His name is Charles.

"Naptime": This is an infomercial spoof for a fake product that stops children from throwing tantrums instantly!

"Couldn't Be Better": Two roommates support each other's dating neuroses, including the importance of a really good desk.

"The Dark Companion": Howard (a puppet) has an existential crisis and nervous breakdown when he, and only he, can see his puppeteer -- a featureless, humanoid shape that always looms over him, that he calls his "Dark Companion." His relationships with his wife and friends quickly break down when no one believes him, forcing Howard to take drastic measures.

"Dinner Date": A girl's dream date might be a guy's nightmare. In classic he-said, she-said comedy form, two women and their men recount the unexpected pleasures and pains of the night before.

"Tug": After winning a high-stakes game of beer pong at a party, two best friends are challenged by their rivals to prove who is the better pair of friends. With $300 and their "manlationship" on the line, they are determined to do anything to win. Anything.

"First Date Accident": First dates tend to be awkward especially when you s--- your pants!

Laugh Out Loud Short Film Fest

The second annual event, featuring nine comedy shorts, will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Roxy Stadium 11, 5001 Verdugo Way, Camarillo. Ticket prices are $18 general admission, $16 for seniors and $14 for children. For tickets, call 388-0532 or visit http://www.srentertainmentgrp.com. The fest's website is http://lolsff.com.

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(c)2013 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)

Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com

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