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Ollie Klublershturf vs. The Nazis

Today’s post features a short film yet again. But this time it is not so much a Stellar Short as it is a ‘this is what they did to get that first job that went on to make them famous’ short.

In fact this short film didn’t even start out as a short. It began life as a 24-page one-act play written by Damon Lindelof. Yes Lost fans, the very same Damon Lindelof.

The legend goes that this play got Mr. Lindelof a meeting with Carlton Cuse, sowed the seeds for a working relationship, and eventually led to the two of them co-running Lost over its six seasons.

So while this is something Mr. Lindelof wrote way back when, in the days before fame and fortune had smiled upon him, the play was converted into a 10-minute short sometime in 2010 by filmmaker Skot Bright. Which is what is embedded below.

I recommend watching the film before reading the rest of my post.

Apart from the boy who plays the lead character and the old man who plays the grandfather, every other character is played by an actor I recognize (by face if not by name), which makes this an impressive enough undertaking in the first place. The film features Rachel Nichols, Chris Hemsworth (before he played Thor), George Segal, Lainie Kazan, Norman Reedus and Samm Levine.

Here are the other things I thought were cool about this short:

  • All the action takes place in a single room, around a dining table no less. Contained environments seriously reduce the budget of a film and therefore increase its chances of getting made.
  • Even though the players remain set in their positions around the dining table for the majority of the film’s duration (some of them don’t so much as stand up) there is a decent energy to the piece. Though the blocking is static, the film doesn’t drag.
  • By employing the most basic of special effects (a sound cue and a transition effect) this film is given a scale far exceeding the awkward arrangement of players around a dining table.
  • Actions that appear innocuous or eccentric on first viewing, especially involving Ollie and Daniella, turn out to be of greater relevance when one watches the film a second time (which is also great because it means the narrative warrants a second viewing).

So was Damon Lindelof an amazing writer from the get-go? Hardly.

While Ollie Klublershturf vs. The Nazis exhibits an understanding of the three-act structure and is a good example of attention-getting writing, the dialogue is quite unpolished. If you don’t believe me, try just listening to the film. Go play Angry Birds or check your email in another tab while Ollie, Daniella and the rest of the lot prattle on, and you will understand what I mean.

And let’s not forget that Mexican joke. In no way is it okay to put that out there by a people so concerned with being politically correct.

But that is really not the point here. The point is that everyone has to start somewhere. And even though it might feel like the bright and the beautiful got that way without too much effort, it takes time, a million mis-steps and a little bit of luck to ‘get there’, wherever that is.

This film affords us a rare insight into an early work by a major player in Hollywood these days. To me it offered education and encouragement in equal measure.

Related Links:
Short film found via /Film
ScriptShadow’s analysis of the Ollie Klublershturf vs. The Nazis script
Direct link to a download of the original one-act play.