TRIGGA Short Film

Over the last few weeks, I have been working as the production assistant on ‘TRIGGA’, which is a Creative England and BFI Network supported short film that follows a young girl who confronts the bullies with the help of her horse.

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Build your own film night:

Last week Flatpack: Assemble hosted an evening masterclass in Birmingham’s Impact Hub to inspire a new generation of cinephiles to create their own film nights.

After Cocks & Docs I am more interested than ever to continue organising film nights in the West Midlands. I want to do this because I love the idea of bringing people together in a cinematic space to share exciting content and to build a community of creative, like minded people in my home town. Film nights also give people an excuse to actually leave the comfort of their own house and socialise with new people.

byofnm3 They explained that at their core, film nights consist of three elements. Films, Places and People. You can control the films, you can control the place but you cannot control the people. You need to make the event special in some way to encourage audience members to attend. This can be done by showing content that can’t be seen anywhere else, holding the screening in an unusual venue or having an interesting mix of people/entertainment (such as dancers/musicians etc.)


Here are some of Flatpack co-founder Ian Francis’s top tips on hosting your own film night:

  • Keep distractions to a minimum eg. natural light/noises from the venue
  • Don’t over programme, make sure you schedule intervals.
  • Make sure the audience are relatively comfortable
  • Think about the trajectory of the evening and the mood and tone of the films you screen.
  • Clear all the rights and licenses for both the venue and the films
  • Seamless presentation is important. In a later post I will break down some of the advice the Flatpack team had to offer about screening conditions.


I’m so pleased to see Flatpack Festival organising more events across the year and reach out to people in the West Midlands, encouraging them to engage with film. If you don’t follow them already, you should…@flatpack

Flatpack Film Festival 2014 Trailer from 7inch cinema on Vimeo.

Cocks & Docs: Our curated short film event

I absolutely love short documentaries. The format lends itself to experimentation and also forces filmmakers to make tough choices when it comes to the edit. For me, a good short doc is concise, moving and narratively whole. There are a lot of great short documentaries online but they rarely are seen in a cinema/communal screening environment despite the fact cinema was built upon the screening of short films.

f8d183_69594bcd293d493cae80cadb4de3d5fbmv1During my first year at uni, I was saying to friends at the student union pub that they should come around to mine for ‘cocks and docs, long cocktails and short documentaries’ and the idea stuck with me since then. It took two years to actually do it in a public space for a larger audience but yesterday myself and my friend and collaborator, hosted the first ever ‘Cocks&Docs’ event  at the Falcon Tap basement in York. The basement seemed like an unlikely screening room as it is typically used for sweaty club nights. But working with a shoe string budget we managed to transform the room using old tea lights and a shower curtain we fashioned into a screen using some string.  Once all the seats were in, the pop corn machine was on and the lights were down, the room felt like it was built for the job.

We screened a total of 6 curated short documentaries covering topics including: pop culture, women’s issues, art, animal welfare and crime.

I am thrilled with how the event went, the audience seemed to enjoy the selection of films and we were sure to provide time for discussion during the breaks. ‘Cocks and Docs’ taught me two important lessons:

  1. You never see a short film and wish it was longer.
  2. You need to be mindful of the order you put films in, think about the mood the film provokes. We nearly made the mistake of finishing with a film that really brought down the guest’s mood. Instead we chose to play an upbeat, music driven documentary which stirred an applause from the crowd the end the evening.

DIY film screenings are a bit tricky to organise, when it comes to licensing the shorts and the venue and actually getting bums in seats but it was also a very rewarding experience.

Short Sighted: Do we need a Shorts Category? Oscars 2016

According to the Academy’s guidelines, a short film is anything with a running time of 40 minutes or less (including credits).
The short film awards stem from the time short films were shown before feature length films at cinemas before the explosion of television and they were seen by a wider audience. Originally there were two different shorts categories, the first ‘Short subject – one reel’ and the second ‘short subject – two reel’. The categories were dependent solely on the number of reels of film used, generic factors were not taken into consideration.
But times have changed and the academy now has three categories for shorts: the short film branch administrates the animated and live-action shorts category awards whilst the documentary branch administers the documentary short subject award. Some academy members want to eliminate the shorts category in an effort reduce the overall run time of the televised Oscar ceremony. They argue that it is an outdated tradition, because we no longer see shorts before features in the cinema. It would however be a real shame for them to scrap the shorts awards. It is a category that student filmmakers can apply to, thanks to a clause in the academy’s regulations for the shorts categories. Although this year, no students took home the prize, Shorts are a crucial category for up-and-coming filmmakers as it gives them a chance to break into the industry.
The shorts that took home the awards this year:
Best Animated Short Film- Bear Story (11 mins)
Bear Story is the first Chilean film to win an Oscar and was produced by small Chilean independent production company Punkrobot Studios. It is a unique telling of the violent days in Chile under Pinochet’s control. Before Bear Story Gabriel Osorio had directed animated kids TV series Flipos but apart from that he has no major credits listed under his name. So for him to win the Oscar can really help establish himself further in the industry, proving how important the short awards can be in recognising future talent.
Best Documentary Short- A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness (39 mins) 
A Girl in the River follows a girl in Pakistan who survived an ‘honour killing’. It was produced by HBO and was director’s Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy second Oscar (the first she received in 2012 winning for ‘Saving Face’.)




Best Live Action Short Film- Stutterer (12 mins)
Stutterer is the first film written, directed and edited by Irish Filmmaker Benjamin Cleary. Clearly was the only Irish nominee to take home the award. It explores the world of a man with a severe speech impediment as he tries to take his online relationships into the real world.

Who are shorts international?

‘You’re not going to make a living off of short films.’ was one of the first thing out of Chris Tidman’s mouth in front of a room full of aspiring short filmmakers. ‘they’re an investment you make in your next project.

Shorts International is a global independent short film distribution platform and Chris Tidman is their London based vice president of global acquisitions. His role is to oversee procurement for the Shorts International distribution catalogue. At the BAFTA short film masterclass he discussed’s relationship with the Academy, the anatomy of a Sale and his predictions for the future of short films.

Chris told us that Shorts.TV have a close relationship with the Oscars, releasing and providing theatrical distribution for the nominated short movies. ‘The films go into theaters shortly after nominations are announced, and are not released anywhere else except in theaters until a few days before the Oscars.’ 


From ‘World of Tomorrow’ (2015) : available on Netflix and to rent via Vimeo. 

Posting content to be viewed free online is generally frowned upon by festivals. Filmmakers are often faced with choosing between getting paid for their shorts, with the help of organisations like Shorts.TV or allowing the biggest possible audience to view their film. Chris weighed in on this saying : ‘the internet is problematic for broadcasters, once your short film is on the internet, it cannot be sold to but there are certain organisations we can’t dictate to…’ he went on to say that when Disney made their short black and white romantic cartoon, Paperman, free to view online in 2013 there was little could do. In turn every animated film up for the award followed suit causing real problems for the broadcasters. This year, however, none of the shorts have been made available online (legally) with the exception of World of Tomorrow (which is available on Netflix and to rent via Vimeo) meaning the exclusive theatrical release of the Oscars shorts lies in the hands of once again.



Chris said: ‘The recent growth in demand for short films has been unprecedented and Shorts.TV now has over 11 million subscribers. That’s a huge number of people interested in viewing high quality short films! The landscape of short film has changed, broadcasters who were once interested seem to have run away. I think this has something to do with Video on Demand, which has lowered the price of short films. This is not to say there isn’t hope for the short form. We have seen recently that short films are used as teasers for feature length films, and they’re being used to pilot tv series. First and foremost, shorts are a filmmakers calling card and a chance to find out who you are and what your style is as a filmmaker.’ 

Chris then went on to talk about how he sees the landscape of short film changing over the next 5-10 years. ‘I predict that shorts will go back into the hands of the broadcasters. On demand platforms already see the potential of the short form. Canal + have been offering €500-€1,000 per minute for a short. The audience is there and seems to be expending, it is in your hands to produce the quality content.’

Short Sighted: Are Short Films the new TV Pilot?

     James M. Johnston’s Short Melville premiered at the 2015 SXSW Festival

Just when I was beginning to think Short films no longer served as a calling card in the industry I find out about James M. Johnston’s short film Melville. A short character study about a man who is withdrawn from life and his personal struggle to become a hip-hop star. The film stunned audiences at the 2015 SXSW Festival and caught the eye of Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz, the co-founder of SMAC Entertainment. The short is currently in development to become a television series.

Short films getting picked up for TV is not a new phenomenon. Though rare, it has happened many times before. An example of this is animated series South Park. The series is spawned from a short film called  ‘The Spirit of Christmas:Jesus vs. Frosty’ which was created in 1992. Now, this is not to say that anyone who makes a short will be picked up by a TV Network but it is one way short films are getting new talent noticed. As well as having a unique and interesting idea and getting your film seen by the right people, a certain amount of luck is also needed. After receiving the best animation award at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Jesus vs Frosty caught the attention of Fox executive Brian Graden, who offered Stone and Parker $1,000 to create another short as a video Christmas Card. This then circulated around on the internet and bootleg video. Comedy Central then caught on and two years after their second short the South Park series aired and 19 episodes later, it’s still causing controversy.

Short Sighted: What is Fashion Film?

What is Fashion Film?

Director Matthew Frost’s satirical take on the fashion ‘art’ film…highlighting the stale cliched format campaign films often take. 

Fashion films aren’t new, fashion houses have been using film as a secondary vehicle to showcase their work for years. The quality of fashion films out there varies, some are little more than a poorly crafted music video and others are well formed, satirical takes on the form and though it is still unusual, some are well crafted narrative stories, whose stars (who often have a Hollywood pedigree) ‘just happen to be’ impeccably dressed.

Fashion films seems to be an increasingly important method brands are using to create a more immersive advertising aesthetic and solidify their brand identity. 2015 saw a number of impressive examples of this:

Gregg Araki, a prominent figure in the american New Queer cinema movement’s collaboration with brand, Kenzo impressively managed to incorporate a narrative into its A/W 2015 campaign . Araki’s 6 minute film explores a number of themes including sexuality and religion using the short form. The backing of the fashion houses allows filmmakers to tell stories that may otherwise not have been told, the only compromise is the costumes, which arguably enhance the story anyway.

Matthew Frost (the director of the satirical fashion video above) in conversation with Vogue said that ‘There are more and new ways to communicate online for brands and magazines, so it’s a good opportunity for filmmakers to use that space…It’s invigorating because you’re not in a comfort zone.’ The general consensus seems to be that fashion films are an important medium because it allows for innovation, audiences have less of an expectation when it comes to what a film should be. So many fashion filmmakers then go on to make narrative features, which no doubt build upon the experimentation of their fashion shorts.Fashion films are, in essence, adverts attempting to pick up on the hype of successful narrative shorts.

In an interview with FFFMilano (Film Festival Milano) Editor, Nick Gilberg said I think fashion films are opening up new ways of expressing feelings through performance, and they are a great space for people to experiment, which I’m sure influences cinema.’ The films are often created in the style of abstract art films, relying heavily on music and pop culture. I struggle with the fact these fashion moving pictures are being placed in the same category as documentary or fictional short films, with strong narrative archs and character development. Certain circles and festivals such as the Berlin Fashion Film Festival and La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival are celebrating the format that epitomize the porous boundaries between advertisement and short film.