Fresh Guacamole clocks in at one minute and 45 seconds – making it the shortest film ever to receive an Oscar nomination.
“It’s a personal triumph because I’ve been making these short films for 10 years and believing that just because an idea is short doesn’t make it any less powerful than a longer film,” said director Adam Pesapane, who works under the name PES.
He traces his preference for films that are very short but inspire repeat viewings to his work in advertising. PES’ 30- to 60-second commercials for companies such as Nike and Sprint are not that much shorter than the minute to minute-and-40-seconds range that he calls his sweet spot for films.
Fresh Guacamole, which took four months to produce, is PES’ follow-up to a 2008 film called Western Spaghetti, a stop-motion short where objects like pieces of a Rubik’s Cube and a sewing pin cushion stand in for ingredients of a pasta dish. The idea for a follow-up began with the central ingredient for guacamole.
“When I walk into a food store, I see a pile of avocados and I think grenades,” PES said. “I couldn’t shake it, and I wanted to make a film around it.”
For his follow-up to Western Spaghetti, the Los Angeles-based director was determined to take the objects-as-food approach a step further. Beyond Spaghetti’s simple look-a-likes (like dice as sugar cubes), PES played with puns – an onion that looks like a baseball is diced into dice. A green Christmas light bulb stands in for a jalapeño, with the filament playing the part of the hottest part of the pepper, the seeds. The hands in Fresh Guacamole are PES’ own.
Some of the objects-as-ingredients on-screen are the real objects, like the dice and Monopoly game pieces. Others, like the grenade and the light bulb, are fabrications made by artists at SCPS Unlimited, who also made Bane’s mask in The Dark Knight Rises.
There’s no clay in the film, but PES did create the innards of the avocado with green Play-Doh – which may be why he had so many festival-goers and online commenters tell him that the short somehow makes them hungry.
“How did I make people want to eat guacamole by showing them all this plastic? I think it’s because of the Play-Doh. Don’t you always want to eat Play-Doh? Of course it tastes awful once you do, but it smells so good,” PES said.
After 10 years specializing in very short films, PES is now ready to turn his attention to feature films. He is currently developing an animated Garbage Pail Kids film, which he will direct. Also in the works is an original feature called Lost and Found, about a lost boy who finds himself in a world of misplaced objects, which PES is developing with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter writer Seth Grahame-Smith.
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