This story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
At the DGA Theater on Feb. 21, The Weinstein Co. unveiled Justin Tipping’s Swimming in Air and Cristina Molino’s Beyond Memories, the first two of five titles in the Lexus Short Films series, produced by TWC in collaboration with the carmaker.
“It’s a much more cutting-edge version of Project Greenlight,” says TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein, “without Matt [Damon] and Ben [Affleck], who just weighed the project down as far as I was concerned -- that’s a joke!”
Both shorts, by 27-year-olds, were seriously more promising than the films resulting from HBO’s 2001-03 Weinstein/Damon/Affleck reality show. The film by 2012 Student Academy Award winner Tipping, about an outsider kid (Gunnar Sizemore) who braves fire and water to win his love (Madison Steinacker), has the flavor of his childhood idols Steven Spielberg and John Hughes.
To motivate Sizemore in scenes that called for heroic exultation, Tipping asked the actor’s mom what his favorite band was, then told Sizemore, “Imagine you’re the drummer in Nirvana!”
Still better than Swimming in Air is Spanish director Molino’s kinetic Beyond Memories, in which a beauty (Jolene Anderson) sprints through the redwoods and dives into a river to retrieve a pendant evocative of a lost love. “It was inspired by my brother Dani’s music score,” says Molino, “melancholy but full of growing anxiety.”
Tipping’s film floats, but Molino’s is driven by emotion. “It’s about that moment when you start to forget a boy’s face, and it hurts not to be able to re-create that feeling,” says Molino.
Vows Weinstein, “We’re gonna take all five movies to the Cannes Film Festival and next year’s Academy Awards!”