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SHORTS

About The Production
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez has earned acclaim for a wide range of films, including such family hits as the "Spy Kids” trilogy and "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.” His new family film, "Shorts,” unleashes the imagination around the central premise of a rock that can grant any wish. "That's the ultimate playground,” he says. "With a story like this, you are challenging yourself to come up with the most amazing things you can possibly imagine. The Rainbow Rock is the ultimate in wishful-fillment. I mean, you tell kids that concept and they immediately start dreaming about all the things they could wish for if they had that rock.”

Rodriguez is not only a do-it-all filmmaker but the father of five children. His action-packed family adventures are, at their core, contemporary fables, which are both inspired and informed by his own kids. Just as his son Racer had come up with ideas for "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D,” another of Rodriguez's sons, Rebel, helped dream up "Shorts.”

Rebel suggested making a film with the kind of episodes his family loved watching on "The Little Rascals.” The director offers, "‘The Little Rascals' felt like real kids, but not exactly like real life. It was an idealized state, where they all mixed and matched through different adventures. I wanted to take that magical kids' world a hundred times further and set it in suburbia.”

The original idea was to structure the film like a series of "Little Rascals” episodes. "They'd be completely separate stories but utilizing the same kids in the neighborhood,” Rodriguez explains. "Then, as the script evolved, I took one of the ideas Rebel had about a wishing Rainbow Rock and used that as the unifying element.”

The film's episodic structure also mirrors the director's experience with his kids when they want to share a story they've seen. "When my kids want to show me something funny they saw on TV, they'll use the DVR to speed up to the good parts, so I see the story zipping by,” he notes. "Once they have me hooked, they'll circle back and show me the middle and, if I'm a good audience, they will rewind to the start. It's a lot of fun to tell the story by rewinding and fast-forwarding and juxtaposing scenes.”

Rebel, who plays one of the neighborhood kids, also provided the title: "Rebel said, ‘It's called "Shorts,” because the stories are short, the kids are short, and they wear shorts,'” Rodriguez recalls with a laugh. "So for him to play one of the leads is a fair thing since it was his idea.”

The tale unfolds through the eyes of friendless outcast Toe Thompson, played by Jimmy Bennett. "Toe is a nerdy kid who is always getting picked on,” Bennett comments. "Every day he goes to school and they just keep picking on him and even dumping him in the trash can. But he was still a lot of fun to play.”

Toe isn't the first to find the Rainbow Rock, but since the tale is told out of order at the whim of his own memory, Toe's episode marks the Rainbow Rock's entrance into the film when it gets lobbed at his head by a pack of bullies who are chasing him.

Bennett continues, "They are throwing rocks at him and don't even think twice when they see the Rainbow Rock; they just throw it at him. When Toe picks it up, the rock tells him to make a wish, so he wishes for friends that are just as cool and interesting as he is. What he gets are these little alien friends who try to help him, although it doesn't always work out. They cause a real ruckus, but, just as he wished, they are really cool.”

The 12-year-old Bennett already had numerous acting credits under his belt when he captivated the filmmakers with his audition for "Shorts.” Rodriguez recalls, "Jimmy walked in and just floored me. He may be young, but he brings a lot to the table. He<

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