Earlier this month we launched iShorts+ ‘Funny Girls', our new incentive offering female directors the chance to kick start their comedic shorts. For aspiring filmmakers, the iShorts package is pretty mouth-watering; on top of a heap of expert mentoring and support, successful candidates also receive a £10,000 Production Award and graduate with a polished, festival-ready feature under their belts. This isn't the first time our Film Team has supported up and coming filmmakers. Last year, the inaugural iShorts project gave 20 groups £5,000 and a licence to impress. Manchester based filmmaker Lucy Campbell led one of the 20 selected teams and wasted no time bringing her chilling yet oddly touching short Pig Child to life.
"I think it's really interesting to make a film out of an idea that's quite abhorrent,” says Campbell of her Frankenstein-meets-Cronenberg iShorts feature, "in a way, that makes it a really compelling story. I'm interested in the way that women, young women in particular, can almost abuse their bodies - whether it's binge drinking or through really promiscuous sex, it's this idea that you think you're going to live forever. It's almost quite a female thing to take risks. You get to a certain stage in your life and you think ‘Why not? I've got nothing to lose.'”
It's this dangerous cocktail of reckless abandon and body-ownership that forms the DNA of Pig Child, the story of a woman who, with the help of science and stem-cell research, artificially inseminates herself with a half-pig half-human embryo, regardless of the cultural or personal consequences. If that short synopsis conjured up an emotive response, good - it was meant to - however Campbell was mindful of the importance of keeping her story grounded. "It's interesting to take that really edgy sci-fi-dangerous thing but also combine it with a very real female character. I was interested in making a character driven film where we really share her experience,” reveals Campbell. "There's an energy in the film as well. I didn't want it to be desolate - which it could have been - I wanted it to be something that really carries itself forward.”
As for the process from idea to finished film, Campbell found iShorts to be an invaluable tool. "It was fantastic,” she says, "the thing about being on iShorts is that you couldn't be lazy about any aspect of it because you have to constantly be answerable. The script was looked over very carefully; it was incredibly useful because you couldn't just make something that wasn't ready,” she adds. "It gave it a validity as well. Without iShorts behind us to be able to get that level of actor would be much harder. It was amazing to have that ability to do what we wanted.”
If this kind of talk gets your creative juices flowing, then Campbell suggests you indulge your film impulse and even goes as far as to offer some sage advice. Notepads at the ready: "Obviously you need a good script,” she starts, "it doesn't have to be finished but you need a really well-realised idea. I get the sense that iShorts wanted to support people who were trying to move ahead with their careers, it was more than just the film. Be fertile with your ideas and be brave and don't think that you're not the next person who can make something really interesting because maybe you are. Take a risk and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep plodding on and believing in your ideas.”
It's a process that's worked well for Campbell. As Pig Child nears the end of its final edit, a bright future awaits filled with promotion, screenings and an informed festival-circuit strategy, all of which can be traced back to a single innovative idea and the urge to create something new. "There are moments in Pig Child that definitely have never been done before. I don't think there's a film where a woman inseminates herself with a pig embryo! Those are the really fun moments,” she says, "things we haven't seen before.” Watch this space.
iShorts Round 2 is now accepting applications. Click here to apply.