Supporting Young Filmmakers: The shortFLIX Final 5

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A problem faced by many young filmmakers is accessing the tools and networks to build their career in the industry. The questions circulating the minds of the UK’s new generation of storytellers often take away from the creative process; Why didn’t I go to university? How can I get into the industry without prior filmmaking experience? I’ve been stocking shelves in Sainsburys part-time to make ends meet, how can I possibly fund industry training? That’s why Creative England’s shortFLIX programme is a vital step in bringing their stories and creativity to life.

This year’s initial cohort of young talent saw a diverse mix of stories based far and wide, from London and the South East, to the North East and North West and Yorkshire and Humber, making shorts in genres ranging from drama to comedy, thriller and supernatural/fantasy. Five projects have now been selected to make their shorts with a budget of up to £10,000 and a professional team to make their short films for showcase on Sky Arts.

We asked the final five a few questions about their projects and what it’s like to be on the programme…

 

Meet the five

Danny

What’s your project?

Offended is the story of a middle-aged man who embarks on his first ‘date’ for years in a near-future where people express their reactions in a very surprising way.

What was it like directing for the first time?

I always knew I wanted to be a filmmaker but it’s hard to get into the industry. I didn’t go to university and, since I was a kid, I’ve made films with my mates and haven’t done a lot professionally… but I have a lot of ideas!

What was your job while applying for shortFLIX?

I worked in a travel agent part time in my hometown in Cheshire. I’ve had quite a few jobs to be honest.

Why did you apply for shortFLIX?

It’s a good way to get into the industry, especially if you didn’t go to university or live in a city. I live in a village in Cheshire – there’s not too much there! It’s really difficult to get into the industry without experience. I’ve always hoped, wanted and known that I’d do it at some point, and the best way to do it is through a programme like shortFLIX.

 

Carrie

What’s your project?

Left Behind is a tender short about 15-year-old Johnny who, after the death of his mum, finds connection and hope through the things she left behind.

Why did you apply to shortFLIX?

I think it’s a great initiative for young filmmakers, who don’t have much experience, the chance to make a professional film and to get industry guidance. It’s also really great to work alongside loads of talented people.

What experience did you have before shortFLIX?

I had zero experience. I came in pretty off the ground! I need all the guidance I can get which is why I’m on the programme.

What was your job before shortFLIX?

I was working as a night manager at Sainsbury’s but I really wanted to get into film, so I applied for shortFLIX!

Why do you want to tell your story?

I want to portray a message of how people grieve. I think there’s not one way of grieving and you don’t know how you’re going to grieve until it happens to you… perhaps you’ll do something that’s less than normal but it’s important to support people through that process; just let people do things their own way.

 

John

What’s your project?

If I Die Today is the story of David who is caught between friendship, revenge and doing the right thing when he is swept up in neighbourhood gang warfare.

What can audiences expect from your short film?

Insight into the mind of a young black boy from the ends, who’s experiencing a rampage in neighbourhood conflict. The audience will get an insight into his state of mind, as well as the state of mind of the people around him. We’ll get to see the normality of gang warfare and how it can happen to anyone.

What are your ambitions for the future?

To put myself on the map and tell my story unapologetically and with a level of authenticity that I can be proud of.

What was your first shortFLIX workshop like?

We were in Leeds for two days. I’ve not been to Leeds before so it was a good experience to go up north! We got into the intricacies of being on set and it has been really important in calming those anxieties and thoughts of what to do and how to do it. It’s been a great way to actually do something and learn. We were really on the job by shooting scenes and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to take control and bring my idea to life.

 

Johnny

What’s your project?

High Tide is a psychedelic rollercoaster comedy following the dysfunctional relationship between two brothers trapped in a sinking campervan.

What can audiences expect from your short film?

I think what audiences will take from the film is a Wim Wenders film but on acid! It’s a call back to the psychedelic films of the 1970s but at the same time, a modern take on a relationship that’s defined by the modern age.

What’s it like being on the shortFLIX programme? 

It’s wild to be on a set; to be able to direct people and actually put something into fruition that you’ve always thought about doing but have never actually done. It’s kind of surreal.

What have you learnt about film production?

It’s a lot of work. You think making a film is a simplistic process – you turn up, people do their job and you, as a director, tell people what to do but when that’s all in motion, it’s like clockwork. Every single person has an idea of what they want to do and how they want to do it – it’s your job as a director to manage that.

 

Isabella

What’s your project?

Seven Sisters is a tale of modern-day witchcraft where protagonist Juliet seeks out an unusual form of therapy for the PTSD she is experiencing.

Why did you apply for shortFLIX?

I applied because I think it’s a great programme that supports young filmmakers and connects people across the country.

What were you doing before shortFLIX?

I’ve been writing for a while and I’m also an actor, so I’m used to being in front of the camera. Now I’ve moved behind the camera!

What has shortFLIX taught you about the filming process?

Lighting is really important; I’m going to work a lot harder on my lighting. It can really change the vibe of your film – tonally and in a dramatic way.

What was it like directing for the first time?

It was great. I really enjoyed working with the actors. I’ve done a bit of that before because I come from a theatre background. I also love the technicality of film and working out all the different shots. I love the tension you experience when the camera’s rolling and the drop when the camera goes off and the crew can have a chat and a joke!

 

Creative England, Sky Arts and ScreenSkills have again joined forces for this initiative, providing training and mentorship from industry professionals to ensure young filmmakers gain practical skills and experience as they take their first steps in the industry, in collaboration with Leeds-based independent production company True North through the production of the films.

Filming for the final five projects starts this year, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on their progress! You can find out more about the initiative here.