I was recently sent copies of Shorty & Morty and Shorty & Morty: Hollywood@Steak - two short films written, created and produced by Eva-Marie Fredric that are on the Festival Circuits and making news. Shorty & Morty had its premiere in Los Angeles last year at the Reel Recovery Festival and the short is gaining international attention with five screenings in various festivals in Australia. A few of note are - MUFF (Melbourne Underground Film Festival) - Short Cuts Film Festival in Australia with one win in Comfy Shorts for best of fest and more are coming. Shorty & Morty: Hollywood @ Steak is quickly following suit as a contender for the Peninsula Film Festival in Melbourne. In short – these two yet to be released short films – are gaining both an audience and accolades. Fredric credits her associate producer - Peter D. Flaherty – for the films continuing success abroad along with her cast and crew.
Fredric’s writing, acting and producing - along with the actors’ execution in both shorts - is refreshingly original in a world of entertainment that repeats itself. The community she has created for Shorty & Morty is a unique anomaly that somehow transcends the viewer to become a part of their darkly comedic lifestyle while living among the "ordinaries" aka "normals".
Eva-Marie Fredric plays Celine/Shorty – a woman who walks on both a crutch and a mannequin leg crafted by Morty – her handsome, ex-stuntman boyfriend – played by Dana Michael Woods. This extraordinary homeless couple appear clueless to being handed a lousy deck in life. Situated in the darker recesses of Hollywood - they explore the breath of their unknown day-to-day existence by quick-witted ease with love and devotion. Also newcomer, Dylan Bocanegra, as Peter, gives an exceptional performance as a lost young man whose girlfriend is, shall we say, blown up all out of proportion. The comedic sight gag abounds as he dutifully carries her throughout the film.
In the first film, Shorty & Morty, the couple crashes a puppet addict meeting to lift some money and doughnuts. Morty pretends to be a ventriloquist dummy until the leader of the group discovers them. Ralph Guzzo – as Jared - pulls off an extraordinary full-on psychotic performance as the leader of this group of misfits played by a cast that are intrinsically right for their roles.
Shorty & Morty: Hollywood@Steak brings us into the center of Hollywood as the couple vies for money again - among the costumed characters in front of Grauman’s Theater. Fredric directs as well as writes and produces while crafting new realities that are constantly broken by pacing and visuals. She interweaves metaphors artfully in her introduction of characters that embody society’s less celebrated foibles in under eight minutes.
Shorty & Morty: Hollywood @ Steak - explores the merits of the unknown and manages to embrace their commonalities as people. Morty - played by actor Dana Michael Woods - puts on a hard display for his girl. His lack of height doesn’t preclude him from standing his ground – faithfully – whenever Tinseltown’s underbelly impugns his girlfriend’s honor. Dana’s charm is delivered to an audience who can’t help but love his devotion and humor when the situation seems dire. The love that the main characters have for each other - despite the ridicule of the masses - transcends their harsh reality. Fredric and Dana are a delight to see as this couple who merrily stumbles through life against the unknown yet they persevere. They play off of each other so effortlessly that one could believe Shorty and Morty do exist.
Eva-Marie Fredric’s portrays Celine/Shorty - as a beauty with flaws is seamless. Homeless and legless - Shorty crawled her way through life until she met a man who helped her believe that the world could be special - even for her. Notably, Ms. Fredric pulls off her accents as a seasoned well-trained professional. I could easily see a project in her future that could capitalize on her ability to deftly use this gift as she had me convinced many times that she was someone she wasn’t.
Together or apart, I found both of these films charming with ambiguous clarity. A touch of Lynch – a tad of Burton – perhaps a bit Kaufmanesque – Ms. Fredric is unique. A funny and heartfelt foray into a seemingly hard life can only be lifted through love and these films portray that beautifully.
Gary D. Henry