Catie Olson has always had a fascination with short films. She says they’re a bit like a one-liner. A quick, sometimes simple setup that, if done correctly, can have an enormous response. The 38-year-old artist says she watched several short-film festivals and screenings come and go in her sixteen years in Chicago before she began to consider doing one on her own.
In 2007, along with her husband, Erik Brown, Olson launched Spiderbug, a mobile festival that’s a mash-up of music and visual art drawn from a broader theme she provides. In the past, Spiderbug has called for filmmakers to submit their worst short film, or create one around the idea of pH (yes, as in the measurement of acidity in a liquid). A bit of a vague task, Olson admits, but it’s part of the fun.
“I really wanted to create a unique experience, something that went a little further beyond a normal film screening,” she says.
Spiderbug has screened everywhere from Facets and Green Lantern Gallery, to backyards and lofts. The point is to not only give area filmmakers (although, Olson says they’ve had submissions from as far away as Thailand) opportunities to build a body of work and have it seen, but to also explore different parts of the city. “There are a lot of really great spaces in Chicago,” she says. “I think it’s something that’s flexible, as long as you have a minimal amount of equipment, anyone can really do it anywhere.” Spiderbug has also gone on the road, showing previous Chicago screenings in San Diego, St. Louis and Kansas City.
Their upcoming show is Friday, July 8 and Saturday, July 9 at the Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery at 1136 North Milwaukee. This incarnation’s theme is “Land of Monsters,” with music accompaniment by the Bodice Cobra Philharmonic. Olson has given filmmakers, whom she contacts mostly through word of mouth and social media, a list of phrases to build a film around, such as “All you lost, blind and lubricated strangers,” and “The sleeping sewers of the Troglydactoids.” Obviously, it’s up to the artist to intemperate whatever that might mean. (Alex Baumgardner)
Doors open at 8:30pm, with a $5 suggested donation.