THIS YEAR’S OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS ARE HONORED

(REUTERS – 22ND FEB) They are the filmmaker who don’t get the star treatment, big studio budgets, and A-list actors to star in their movies (sometimes) but that doesn’t mean the shouldn’t have their day in the sun.

On Tuesday (February 21), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, film’s highest honor, held a reception for the 10 films nominated in the shorts category this year, both animated and live action.

It is an evening where each nominated filmmaker is a winner, and able to commiserate with their peers over the delight of receiving word that their work was considered by the Academy to be the cream of the crop of the year 2011.

“I mean, just being shortlisted, it was so big. I didn’t believe it,” says director Hallvar Witzo, nominated for his live action short film “Tuba Atlantic,” a Norwegian comedy about a dying man trying to neatly end his life. “I just shouted out loud that ‘we are nominated’ because it’s surreal, I don’t think I could believe it if I’m not just screaming it,” Witzo adds.

“I would say it’s a dream come true, but I’m not sure it’s come true, we’re really just walking in the clouds, it’s absolutely amazing,” says Gigi Causey, producer of nominated live action short “Time Freak,” a comedy about a man who created a time machine but soon finds that it only takes him to the day before.

“The dream people keep telling us is true, we’re going to have to take their word for it, yeah. It’s unreal. It’s a real honor, it’s more than we can ever hope for this short film,” says Andrew Bowler, director of “Time Freak.”

Oscar-winning filmmaker and animator Brad Bird, who won the Academy Award in the animated feature categories for his films “Ratatouille” (2007) and “The Incredibles” (2004), a short film is more than just a way for a green filmmaker to get his or her feet wet, but rather, they are in their own right a career destiny for many. Bird was on hand to host the reception honoring the ten films, held at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills.

“I wouldn’t ever want to give the impression that it’s only a stepping stone to bigger films, I think some of the best films that were made are short, and they are just the right length,” says Brad Bird. “It forces you to be concise, and that’s good for filmmaking,” he adds.

For many filmmakers, the invitation to one of the most-watched global events means a chance to relax and celebrate the end of the road, which is an accomplishment that so few actually achieve.

“Going to go to the beach, get some sun, which we don’t have in Hamburg, so we enjoy that, and we try to relax, and we try to, yeah, to relax actually, not get nervous,” says Max Zahle, whose live action short is “Raju,” a drama about a German couple facing troubles adopting a young boy from Kolkata, India.

“It is like the greatest honor anyone could imagine,” says but you can never imagine what happens or writes emails and says ‘you’re on the shortlist’ and everything starts,” saysStefan Gieran, producer of “Raju.”

The feat of securing a nomination is not something you want to get your hopes up on in the beginning of a film’s lifespan.

“We don’t expect that when you’re doing a film, you’re just trying to do your best as possible, and the film has already a good life in film festivals last year, and to be here at the Oscars is just a cherry on the sundae,” says Patrick Doyon, whose animated short “Dimanche” is about a young boy fighting boredom during a day with his grandparents.

For filmmakers Brandon Oldenburg and William Joyce, making a short is a great way to express oneself through film, and with the advent of new technology driving the costs down, there is no excuse for someone who wants to make a film but think they cannot.

“The barrier of money is getting less and less of a variant, and more like ‘OK, I can see that possibly, I can get there, I can scale that,’ and that’s where we were with it,” says William Joyce, co-director of animated short “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” a whimsical film about a far-away land where books are real-life characters.

Whatever happens on Oscar night, these filmmakers are just happy to be a part of something historic.

“For this to kind of come towards the end of it is amazing, so certainly it was a huge surprise, but a wonderful and welcome one,” says Eimear O’Kane, producer of Irish live action short film “Pentecost,” about a mischievous young boy in a small Irish town.

The Academy Awards will be handed out in a live telecast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood Sunday, February 26.