Stand Up - Short Film

Stand Up is a 2017 American live action anti-bullying short film produced by Matthew Huh Productions and distributed by Rocket Center Studios. The film is about a student named Johnny (Matthew Huh) who gets bullied by a trio. But one has second thoughts about the path he’s on.


Directed By

Matthew Huh


Produced By

Matthew Huh


Screenplay By

Matthew Huh


Starring

Matthew Huh

Dennis Gromov

Juan Pablo Fernandez

Junior Yturralde


Cinematography By

Matthew Huh

Justin Tinoco

Nathan Jay


Edited By

Matthew Huh


Production Company

Matthew Huh Productions


Distributed By

Rocket Center Studios


Release date

June 21, 2017 (Work-in-progress)

June 29, 2017 (Official premiere)

July 1, 2017 (YouTube)

October 8, 2017 (Bangaroo)


Running time

6 minutes (Final Cut)

2 minutes (Work-in-Progress Cut)


Language

English


Country

United States


Plot (By John Bilkey)

In the beginning sequence, we see Huh walking out of his house with a dim filter. This filter makes his blue backpack and green foliage stand out. The camera starts rotating around Huh like in the ending of The Force Awakens. Huh passes a VHPD Police Car, though it is unfortunately not a Crown Victoria. Eventually, the title "Stand Up" is shown.


The film begins its first major part as we are introduced to a gang of 3 bullies. We can infer that they constantly torment Huh's character. Interestingly, the leader of the gang named Sam (played by Dennis Gromov) decides to exclaim "Look who it is, here's Johnny" in reference to The Shining. This tells the audience that the bullies are either as obsessed with movies as Huh, or Huh's character is named Johnny. It is revealed that his name is indeed Johnny in the credits.


Another bully (played by Juan Pablo Fernandez) named Drake makes physical contact with Huh after Huh makes it clear he does not wish to be disturbed. Sam reminds him of the previous times he had beaten him up and demands money. Johnny is pinned against a port-o-potty and "gets it" from Johnny as he holds back laughter The bullies end up getting about $5. As they walk away, sympathetic bully (played by Junior Yturralde) named Andrew questions the group's actions. Johnny replies with "Shut the hell up", which was actually improvised according to Huh.


Johnny goes home and enters the bathroom. He looks at the camera through the mirror and exhales, proceeding to wash his face. He exits the bathroom and enters his bathroom and plops on his bed head first.


An alarm clock buzzes and Johnny smacks the clock to turn it off. He then exits his house. We can imagine him saying "I'm late for school!" and The Power of Love playing in the background. Johnny pulls out his iPhone and plays the La La Land soundtrack. He is confronted by the gang of bullies again, though sympathetic bully refuses to participate. The bullies make fun of his music choice and drop his phone. Sam says Johnny will "Get it again this time" and has him apologize for running away from him. Sympathetic bully has had enough of being a bystander and exits the car, running to rescue Johnny. He makes a good point in exclaiming that they've been "beating up this kid for years for no reason" and tells them he is "done". The Sam and Drake walk past Sympathetic Bully and bump into him on purpose. He makes a shrugging action and sarcastically repeats what they said. Johnny and Sympathetic Bully become friends and walk off into the sunset sharing earbuds.



Cast

Matthew Huh as Johnny

Dennis Gromov as Sam

Juan Pablo Fernandez as Drake

Junior Yturralde as Andrew



Pre-Production


Writing

The screenplay was written in 2 days as it was a short. Some lines like when Sam yells “shut the hell up” was improvised while filming.


Production


Filming

The short was filmed over the course of 3 days, and was shot at both Huh’s house and a local park nearby.


The first day of shooting began on June 15, 2017 at Century Park in Vernon Hills, IL. The first day was notable for having to change locations due to a town day camp. The first bullying scene was filmed on the first day.


The second day of filming occurred on June 21, 2017 with the filming of all the indoor scenes.


The last day of filming occurred on June 24, 2017, once again at Century Park. It was notable for being very stressful. Many of the actors were uncooperative and the film needed to finish shooting due to it being the last day to film.


One notable thing that occurred while filming was that the original camera Huh was using to film the short actually died during production. The footage was fortunately saved. Cinematographer Nathan Jay had a second camera that was used to shoot the final scenes of the film. This explains why the film switches from a grainy quality to 4K.


Post-Production


Editing

The film was edited with iMovie. Some scenes were altered due to weather conditions. The final scene was initially intended to have dialogue (as it is inaudible), but due to high wind, it was mute. Even with help from editor Nathan Jay, the dialogue could not be heard.


Music

The film is notable for featuring music from the movie La La Land. This is the case for several reasons. One: the character of Johnny listens to the soundtrack in the film, two: La La Land is Huh’s favorite movie, and three: it was the only music Huh had at the time.


The music used in the film is listed in the YouTube description:


“Another Day of Sun” from La La Land

“Mia and Sebastian’s Theme” from La La Land

“Engagement Party” from La La Land

“Epilogue” from La La Land

“The End” from La La Land

“Pursuit” from iMovie


References to Other Films


The short is notable for having several references to other films.


The bathroom and bedroom scene is a clear tribute to a scene in La La Land where Emma Stone’s character Mia stares into a bathroom mirror as well as when she flops down on the bed in sadness.


Sam’s line “Here’s Johnny!” is obviously taken from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as Jack Nicholson’s character axes down a door.


The film is notable for having many long, continuous shots. This is a reference to Birdman, a film having one long, continuous shot.


Bangaroo creator John Bilkey has stated that the opening shot of the camera spinning around Johnny is a reference to the ending shot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


The scene where Johnny enters his house is similar to the shot in Beauty and the Beast where Belle first enters the Beast’s castle.


The ending is a reference to La La Land in both its pacing and style.



Release

Stand Up was shown as an unfinished work-in-progress at the Vernon Hills Film Studies Festival on June 21, 2017. The work-in-progress was well received praising the cinematography and shots. The finished film held its official premiere at the Vernon Hills Film Studies Festival as the closing film of the festival on June 29, 2017. The film was released to YouTube on July 1, 2017.


On October 8, 2017, Stand Up was released on Bangaroo, following John Bilkey’s review.


Reception

Stand Up received positive reactions from critics at the festival. The work-in-progress was well received with many praising the shots, and funny acting. The final cut received praise for its camera angles, story, lighting, acting, and use of music. Some critics were critical of the loud background noise apparent throughout the film, and some dialogue could not be heard.


Bangaroo creator, John Bilkey gave the film a 10/10 praising the effort put into the film, but criticized the story and characters calling them cliche. However, he does take into account that it was a school project.


Legacy
When Stand Up premiered, director Matthew Huh was proud of his work. However, in the months following the film's premiere, Huh has been very open about his eventual dissatisfaction of the film. He stated that "It was my first film, I had restrictions, and I was immensely stressed. I tried too hard to be dramatic and focusing on the quality of the story. I was not expecting Citizen Kane, but I knew I could do better."

Since Huh owns the copyright and distribution rights, Stand Up has been rarely screened since its premiere, and Huh has said there are no plans for future screenings.

Following the opening of The VH Media Screening Room, Stand Up had its first public screening since its premiere on March 11, 2019. It was shown to a small group of members in the Screening Room. Huh was in attendance, but left the room while the film ran. Even though people were impressed by the short, he remains dissatisfied with the final product.