A tomato in an elevator.
That is the premise not only for Todd Sullivan’s short film Tomato, it is also the punchline to a joke told to him by his daughter from a fruits and vegetables-themed joke book she had recently received as a gift.
“For days, she was hounding me with every joke in the book. One of the jokes was, ‘What’s red and goes up and down?’”
That curiosity led to a short film that premiered at the 2019 Kamloops Independent Short Short Film Festival, picking up third place in the contest.
“I don’t know why that joke stood out to me, but at the moment I imagined myself walking up to an elevator, having the door slide open and there being a bright red tomato in the middle of the elevator. What would I do? How would I react?” he said.
In the year that followed the short film’s success at the festival, Sullivan went back to work, responding to a challenge to create a one-minute short film based on the theme ‘What’s behind the door?’
That short film screened at Paramount Theatre last weekend. Tomatoes received the honours of best sequel at KISS.
“It was the best sequel. It was also the only sequel,” he said, laughing.
Days after that win, Sullivan, who works as a reporter at Kamloops This Week, got word that Tomato would be going international, set to screen at the FIFES Comedy Film Festival in Zagreb, Croatia, on April 3.
Sullivan submitted the film to free-entry festivals and said he didn’t even realize FIFES was in Croatia at the time he submitted the film.
Meanwhile, he’s still waiting to hear back from festivals closer to home in B.C.
His recent success does not end with his own films. He also played the title role in The Economist, a short film written and directed by Mbongeni Mngomezulu and shot by Christo Vutev. It took first place at KISS this past weekend.
Now he’s got plans for a third film in the Tomato cinematic universe.
While the title still eludes him, he said he does know the story — partly inspired by recent screenings he’s seen at the Kamloops Film Festival — and who he wants to cast. He also said it will be the first Tomato film with dialogue, and will likely run a little closer to the five-minute limit for KISS submissions, where he plans to submit the film next year.
While the short film portion of the festival has concluded — with a complete list of winners pending — festival screening continue until Saturday at Paramount Theatre.