AFI FEST 2009: Shorts…and to the point! Todd Luoto (OIL CHANGE)

Posted in Uncategorized by johnwildman on October 31, 2009

Todd Luoto’s short film OIL CHANGE is one of those precise and finite works that remind me why I love film festivals.

Because without film festivals, you don’t get the acerbic bordering on acrid social interplay that happens in Luoto’s version of a date from hell. You don’t get it because things called “studio notes” and “lowest common denominator” thwart this kind of film, which keeps pushing the boundaries on of common decency in a social setting – literally. And joyfully, in my mind. You also don’t get it in this case, because Luoto’s “day job” is being a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival. So – thank you film festivals for Todd Luoto and the shudder while you giggle nervously brilliance of OIL CHANGE.

The obvious question – can you and have you changed the oil in your car before? I really want to lie and say ‘yes’ here.  Make a point that the only reason I go to Jiffy Lube to get one done is for the complimentary vacuum and free coffee. Unfortunately, that’s dishonest and my father raised me better than that. Sure, he didn’t teach me much about mechanics, and one look at my scruff will assure you I’m not the shaving type, but the man instilled lessons/values in me that go far beyond grease and razors…like Jefferson Airplane for one.  Not that that should be a feather in anyone’s cap by any means, but oddly that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

In your mind, what would be a worse “bad date” scenario: Having to quell the desire to point out bad behavior on your date’s part to avoid confrontation or resist the urge to put their offensive friends in their place in deference to that person?
Both seem like pretty miserable options, but I think it’d be a lot more difficult to bite my tongue if my date wasn’t too cool. Then again, if she had my Playstation at her apartment, or perhaps my favorite pair of sneaks, I’d have an easier time holding my breath until I found a reasonable escape plan for them. The woman with the bad attitude, I could bear losing…Chuck Taylors or Grand Theft Auto, not so much.

How has the experience of making OIL CHANGE and then attending other festivals with the film colored the way you look at and approach programming now?
I think programming gives me a better idea of what works in terms of storytelling, and this film in particular had me really understand how difficult it can be to deliver your vision in abbreviated form.  There’s now an added appreciation for films I see that do and especially don’t work, and this project also probably left me a little more impressed by bigger budget fare.  We got lucky by making this on the cheap with limited resources, and I can’t imagine pulling off something much more elaborate.  Like the rapper/prophet/guy on my fav t-shirt, Biggie Smalls, said, ‘Mo’ Money, Mo problems,’ and I don’t think we could afford any more setbacks.

You made the film for very little money. Where did the bulk of it go? Camera rental, generic soda and licorice for the craft service table, and of course, the space battle sequence.

What is your favorite “ride”: Swing Set, See Saw or Slide?
Swing set – one of these days I’m gonna finally make it over the top and transport into another dimension. One in which Crystal Pepsi and Franken Berry cereal is still found in your local grocery store.

What will happen in the feature-length sequel to OIL CHANGE? Well, I’m thinking the two (ex-)lovers eventually get back together, find God, raise four wonderful children, and live happily ever after. I don’t think anyone, anywhere would actually ever program that version, but I’d finally feel comfortable letting my Mom watch something I made.

OIL CHANGE screens as part of the SHORTS PROGRAM 4:00PM November 2 @ Chinese Mann 6

Todd Luoto will attend the screening and participate in a Q&A afterwards.




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  1. Oil Change – AFI Fest review said, on September 7, 2010 at 5:38 am

    […] AFI FEST 2009: Shorts…and to the point! Todd Luoto (OIL CHANGE) by johnwildman on October 31, 2009 […]

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