The Hollywood Shorties stand center court at the Fabulous Forum along with the Laker Girls, in the center of whom is a nineteen-year-old Paula Abdul. Another Abdul, Kareem, towers munificently over the scene, as Shorty Kevin Thompson puts it, “Photobombing before photobombing was the norm."
Logline: In 1980s Los Angeles, the “world’s smallest professional basketball team” composed of recognizable-but-typecast actors finds itself the unlikely vanguard of a revolutionary movement to bring little people into the public eye as something other than objects of curiosity.
Length: 85 min.
Director: Ryan Steven Green
Producer: Ryan Steven Green, Craig Evans
Writer: Ryan Steven Green
About the writer/director/producer: Ryan Steven Green is a commercial and film director. A native of Los Angeles, Green received a BA in Cinema-Television with an emphasis on non-fiction filmmaking from USC. His documentary work has sent him around the world with Emmy-winning PBS show Travelscope, can be seen in the global collaborative documentary One Day on Earth, and has won numerous awards at festivals around the country. He lives in Los Angeles with his very-understanding wife and daughter.
Key cast: Tony Cox, Martin Klebba, Kevin Thompson, Jimmy Briscoe, George Rossitto, Joe Gieb
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Release date: Late 2016
Where can I watch it?
Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival - Friday June 10, 10:00 am, Old Town Center for the Arts, Cottonwood, AZ.
Dances With Films - Friday June 10, 5:00 pm, Chinese Theater, Los Angeles, CA.
San Francisco DocFest - Sunday June 12, 7:00 pm, Roxie Theater, San Francisco, CA. Tuesday June 14, 9:15 pm, Roxie Theater, San Francisco, CA. Thursday June 16, 9:00 pm, Vogue Theater, San Francisco, CA.
Little People of America National Conference - Tuesday July 5, 9:00 pm, Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston, MA.
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made the Hollywood Shorties because this was simply a film that had to be made. Though I have known of the team my whole life, the fact that their existence had been utterly forgotten to history all but compelled me to move forward with it. When I began production there was literally nothing online about the team at all! Throughout production I kept sort of looking over my shoulder, thinking, “Is this really all mine? I’m alone out here?!” A terrific feeling, one I can only hope to have again someday.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This is a story you have never heard of, and certainly never seen. Nor will there ever be another like it, because the story of the Hollywood Shorties is unique to history. And if that’s not enough, a year or two from now, when your friends hear about the Hollywood Shorties and are all excited, you’ll be able to say, “Holy late! I saw the doc in ’16 when it was still festivaling.” I mean, hopefully that kind of situation isn’t that important to you, but still…
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
From a personal standpoint, The Hollywood Shorties very much is. My late uncle was on the team from the early-70s to late-80s and I grew up with the Shorties very much a part of the Green family lore. So, in a way, this is a family story for me. As for universality, I think the theme that hits for me is that everybody does the best they possibly can given their circumstances.
I did not desire to make this a platform or issue film, so I really placed in the background the adversity that team members faced. To me what matters is that, despite all, here is a group of guys in their twenties, living in LA and having the time of their lives, making lemonade out of the lemons life has handed them and doing so in a most extraordinary way.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I recently looked back at my notebook from the very earliest days of development and, amazingly, it listed Shorties among four or five other ideas under the heading “Lesser.” Furthermore, next to the film’s title I had written, in parentheses, “SHORT!” So, to go from that fragile beginning to a world premiere at SXSW, yes, the film evolved greatly during production. I can state very simply why it was this happened: I found a compelling storyline, in addition to the compelling facts surrounding the curious history of the Hollywood Shorties.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback has been very positive! Each of the four screenings of the film has seen a number of folks staying after to ask questions, offer services, or just speak an enthusiastic congratulations. This is even how we met our distributor! The film has received two reviews to date, both very positive, with more in progress. Very pleased thus far.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I believed in this film from the moment I rolled camera back in April 2013. I am thrilled but not the least bit surprised that folks are loving it. If there are folks that hate it, they are totally entitled to that opinion as well. But to me, this film is just so precious.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
An independent documentary such as this one is such a tender little shoot, a solitary blade of grass in a wide world of media verdure. Every single mention, every like, share, write-up, interview, review adds just that much more nourishment to this budding plant. The chances that it ever blossoms into a mighty oak tree are so slight, but every little bit helps.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I know, because I have asked each festival audience I have yet encountered, that a very small minority of folks have ever actually met a little person. And while simply watching the film does not necessarily present that opportunity, my hope would be that any audience member would leave the Shorties film remembering a name or two from the Shorties team and saying to themselves, “Man! I’d love to take [that guy] to a beer!” If this film can manage to nudge the empathy meter just that much – success.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Were the Breakers a necessary step in the evolution of dwarf athletics? Why or why not?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The next one for me is going to be my first narrative, so I am very excited to bring my experience as a documentarian to a new genre. I’ve got two projects in the hopper that I am developing simultaneously, one, a broad comedy, is much further along than the other, which is a horror film. I’ve also got a commissioned short doc that will be shooting later this summer. As ever, it’s onward and upward!