Monday, 11 October 2010

Part 1 - Context

Why do people go to the trouble of making short films in the first place?

There are many different reasons why people go to the trouble of making short films, however one of the most common reasons is that they are an artistic film-maker who sees shorts as an art form in their own right and so therefore use shorts as a way of expressing their views on pressing or controversial issues or even as a spring-board for them to deal with their own problems and the issues that others have with them. An example of a film-maker who uses shorts as an art form to express his own problems and the issues that others have with him is Isaac Julien, a 50 year old black, gay film-maker from London, and his 42 minute short ‘Looking For Langston’, a black and white film made in 1989 that celebrates black, gay identity and desire. This film directly relates to Julien’s experiences of being a gay man of black origin by using the life of poet Langston Hughes as a black, gay cultural icon as the main subject of his film.

While many directors make short films to express their views or to make a statement, other people go to the trouble of making short films as a spring-board for them to go on to make a feature-length as it is a way of directors of stand-out talent to get recognised within the industry.

The situation with short filmmaking when shorts were still being shot on celluloid.

Until recently both feature length and short films were shot using traditional celluloid film and for this reason it was extremely difficult for someone who’d never made a film to secure public funding due to the expense required to shoot with celluloid. Caroline Cooper Charles, short film consultant for the UK Film Council says that “The situation in the late 1990’s was that there were limited opportunities for a small clique of people to get healthy funding for their shorts but there was very little investment in the discovery of new talent.” However, budgets for 35mm celluloid shorts had increased dramatically with films made under FilmFour’s Short & Curlies programme regularly costing between £60,000 and £90,000, with the £90,000 budget for Tinge Krishnan’s BAFTA winning ‘Shadowscan’ being a peak for the British Film Institutes New Directors scheme. Although ‘Shadowscan’ and many other shorts had gone on to do well by being successful with critics and picking up a handful of awards the costs of these shorts were difficult to justify due to the small amount of people who had actually seen them due to the lack of both cinema and television screening. The increasing costs of shorts were also difficult to justify when a fraction of these enormous budgets could be used for supporting emerging, up-and-coming film-makers who were willing to work with digital equipment.

The impact that DV technology has had on the short film.

The introduction of digital video (DV) and digital technology has had a profound effect on the ways in which short films are created and edited, but most importantly they have allowed more and more short films to be made giving up-and-coming film-makers the opportunity to make and distribute their films for little to no money at all due to the availability of cheap equipment such as cameras and home computer editing suites. These new, cheaper technologies then enable would-be film-makers to present their film to one of the major short film schemes to secure funding for a more ambitious piece of work or to distribute it via the Internet, with both the Internet and the introduction of the DVD emerging as important new mediums for extending both the lifespan and audience of shorts.

The emergence of DV and the belief that more money should be channelled into supporting budding film-makers is what prompted the UK Film Council to launch a three-year scheme to support digital shorts in August 2001, pledging £1.5 million to produce 100 short films a year with the only catch being that each film had to be shot solely on digital for less than £10,000 and that each film had to be less than 10 minutes long. The scheme got a mixed response with Caroline Cooper Charles saying that “We were angrily told that it was impossible to make a decent film for less than £10,000, and that forcing people to shoot on digital was too restrictive.” Critics of the scheme also felt that the format of the ten-minute film was unable to be a serious bridge to feature-length films. One of the schemes critics was Asif Kapadia, acclaimed director of ‘The Sheep Thief’ and ‘The Warrior’, who stated that “When you’re a film student you’re very aware of how much film costs, so you’re not going to start shooting until you know exactly what you want. There’s a danger with digital that you don’t make any real decisions until you’re on set, and then you assume any problems can be sorted in post-production.” However, Soledad Gatti-Pascual of London-based production company The Bureau disagrees stating that “The most successful digital shorts are those that work with the format rather than pretending to be shooting 16mm on the cheap.” A good example of this is Simon Ellis’ ‘What About The Bodies’ where Ellis said he’d learnt “…how to make DV look less like DV, but that doesn’t mean emulating celluloid.”

The distribution and exhibition possibilities for short films made in the UK & the limitations of the format (what, according to some, can’t shorts achieve that features can?)

The introduction of DV has not just had an impact on the production of the short film it has also affected the distribution and exhibition possibilities for short films made in the UK. However the biggest challenge yet is still to secure a theatrical release with the easiest option for getting your short screened in UK cinemas being to have it programmed with a feature, though this is a rare and unusual event. The cost of transforming a 16mm or 35mm print from a digital master tape also hinders your chances of getting your film screened, with the cost of this being around £3000. Although the steady introduction of digital projection equipment into UK cinemas will save the cost of converting digital masters into film prints since the masters will be directly downloaded on to the cinemas own servers.

Short Circuit Films, the UK-based organisation responsible for the distribution of shorts made on the Digital Shorts scheme, has tried funding distributors to assign a short to a feature, nevertheless this only works if the cinema manager is enthusiastic about the idea as the exhibition of the short is at their discretion. Short Circuit’s Meabh O’Donovan says that “We found it more effective to go to individual cinemas to persuade them to take shorts rather than attempting to do it at the point of distribution.” Yet several cinemas across the UK are hosting monthly short events with The Cameo in Edinburgh running The Blue Room in conjunction with Mediabase and Cinema Extreme inviting established directors to talk at screenings of their own early shorts at London’s Curzon Soho. Underground events are also becoming more and more common with Exploding Cinema screening unfunded films in squats, church halls, disused factories and anywhere else it can find a venue.

The length of the short also effects it’s chances of being released, with the shorter the short, the better its chances. A key example of this is ‘Desserts’ staring Ewan McGregor, which was sold across Europe and Asia because it’s a one-gag film that’s under five minutes long. Damien Spandley from City Screen confirms that “With a 90-minute feature we wouldn’t usually run anything longer than 10 minutes, and we wouldn’t programme anything with a two-hour film.” However these restrictions aren’t helpful to would-be feature film-makers with the problem being that most three-minute shorts are “…little more than a witty idea with a sting in its tail.” Asif Kapadia also has concerns that “Some short film-makers aren’t learning to develop characterisation, and so financiers aren’t convinced they can make features.” This being one of the main limitations of the short film format along with the inability to develop narrative.

The conclusion reached by the writer about the situation of short film in the UK at the time of the article’s publication.

The conclusion that the writer of the article has come to is that in general this is a wonderful time for short films with “…virtually no obstacles to making your first moving-image work.” The fact that the UKFC is also using the inexpensiveness of DV “…to help empower hundreds of would-be film-makers,” confirms this as it “…can only be a good thing.” However it does have it’s disadvantages as Caroline Cooper Charles admits to reading around 1000 scripts a year for the various regional and national elements of the Digital Shorts scheme, the majority of which are poor quality. The UKFC also carries through government policy to help “…empower Britain’s regions and nations,” therefore meaning the responsibility for nurturing up and coming talent lies with film commissioners on arts boards across the country, something which the writer of the article believes to be “…a welcome resistance to a London-centric industry.” Though the fact still remains that the UK has found it hard to discover film-makers of stand-out talent in recent years.

How up-to-date do you think the article is?

I don’t believe that the article is very recent due to the fact that it doesn’t include any mention of more recent, emerging technologies such as high-definition cameras and blu-ray. It also fails to go into detail about online distribution, which in the past year or two has had a dramatic increase in both visitors to these sites and the number of online distribution sites available. It also fails to give any examples of online distribution websites such as YouTube and and so therefore I believe that this article isn’t very up-to-date and definitely not written in the last three or four years.

Catch 22: “Short films represent the way that many if not most filmmakers get recognised initially. Done superbly well, they can become a new director’s ticket onto the restricted access ladder that leads to making a feature film. Yet so many obstacles still stand in the way of short film-makers and the all important “airplay” of the short films they make.” How effectively does the article explain and answer this paradox?

I believe that the article effectively explains and answers this paradox by going into detail about how important the short film is for would-be feature film-makers and giving examples of directors of stand-out talent who have gone on to make features off the back of their shorts. It also explains how digital technology is evolving and changing the short film industry at the same time and how the emergence of new, cheaper technology is enabling anybody to create their own short film and try and break into the film industry. However the article then goes on to state how much of a struggle it is to get your short screened, particularly if you are an amateur, unheard of director, therefore making it seemingly hard to get an audience to watch your film and for you to break into the industry. Yet with the emergence of online distribution it is also somewhat easier to reach a wider audience.

Find at least two other articles which examine the importance of short films and their effectiveness as stepping stones to longer format films for emerging film-makers. Do they address the paradoxes/challenges for short film-makers?

Screen Online -

This article effectively explains the paradox of short films and how important they are to would-be feature film-makers by giving key examples of British directors who begun by making shorts and have now gone on to make several successful feature-lengths. It also discusses the decline in shorts and lists the reasons for this, with the emergence of blockbuster features in the 1970’s one of the main reasons. However it also says how short films can now be seen as repetitive and that new, thought-provoking plots are being compromised for the desire of a bigger audience. A lack of funding is also stated as one of the reasons why there has been a decline in the popularity and innovativeness of short films and is one of the main obstacles standing in the way of film-makers and the distribution of their shorts. The Internet is however mentioned as a new medium for distribution.

Left Lion -

This article completely contradicts the previous two as it’s basically a guide on how to make a short film with no budget at all, eliminating the majority of the obstacles that stand in the way of creating a short that were mentioned in the previous two articles. It explains what needs to go into the planning of your film and how you can assemble a cast and crew and gain the equipment you need. It even goes as far as to tell you how to edit your film together on a home computer editing suite making it believable that anyone is capable of making their own short if they want too. It doesn’t however mention how making your own short in this way can lead to making a feature, therefore not fully explaining the paradox.

Part 2 - Funding & Support

What is The UK Film Council doing to support short film-makers and short film-making?

The UK Film Council aims to support a range of short films and their directors by setting up several schemes to fund the production and distribution of shorts and to help turn these directors into feature length film-makers. They fund script development, film production, film export and distribution, film education, festivals and audience support schemes, to help widen audiences throughout the UK, and have even created new funds in order to support particular areas of film-making.

The Film Fund - The first and possibly most important scheme run by the UKFC to help support short film-makers and short films is The Film Fund, which funds the production and development of both feature-length and short films. It is said to be “…the heart of the UK Film Council,” as it is a fairly new fund specifically created to support aspiring film-makers, producers and writers of stand-out talent. The Film Fund also takes risks with films which appear to be unmarketable but are top-notch British films, therefore giving directors and their films a chance to be noticed regardless of whether their film can be marketed towards an audience.

The Innovation Fund - The Innovation Fund, due to launch in Autumn 2010, is being set up to support films made in the UK that use digital technology rather than traditional celluloid and is being set up to ensure there is support for a number of emerging technologies across all areas of the production, distribution and marketing stages of film. The investment of 240 digital screens across the UK has enabled shorts made on digital to be viewed by a larger audience rather than a specific few as there is no expense to change the digital film to 35mm celluloid.

The Prints & Advertising Fund - Much like the Innovation Fund, the Prints & Advertising Fund helps to create and support the distribution and marketing of films by having an annual budget of £2 million which goes towards widening the access to a range of films, creating more opportunities to see these films and raising the audience awareness of the range of films available by up-and-coming directors.

Cinema Extreme - The Cinema Extreme scheme is the combination of FilmFour and the UK Film Council and their idea of supporting directors who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and who have had previous successes on other UKFC schemes or with their previous shorts funded in some other way. Many of the films funded on this scheme are shown at several international film festivals and have won many awards with Andrea Arnold recently picking up an Oscar for ‘Wasp’. Andrea Arnold is a key example of one of the successes of this scheme with her going on to make successful features such as ‘Fish Tank.’

Digital Shorts Scheme - The Digital Shorts Scheme enables film-makers in different regions of the UK to collaborate with a variety of regional companies that use new, digital technology to produce shorts that look as effective as if they were shot on 35mm celluloid. The next step up from the Digital Shorts Scheme is Digital Nation, which was previously known as Digital Shorts Plus and allows more established film-makers to work with companies across the UK helping them to create a portfolio for funding later on in their careers. The scheme works by having several films developed in to scripts and then selecting 12 to be made using digital technology with a budget of £17,500 - £20,000.

What are the nine Regional Screen Agencies (RSAs) that Film Council funding is delivered through?

The UK Film Council invests £6.3 million a year in the nine Regional Screen Agencies that are attempting to make film culture more accessible for the whole of the UK and helping to build thriving and sustainable media sectors across Britain by bringing together existing national and regional film bodies, media development agencies and commissioners. The nine Regional Screen Agencies are:

EM Media - EM Media is the screen agency for the East Midlands and focuses on supporting and developing a wide range of creative talent and their projects while raising the regions profile in terms of the East Midlands ability to make films and create a range of diverse media. Since 2002 they have helped fund over 600 projects including both short films and features with one of their main successes being Shane Meadows’ BAFTA winning ‘This Is England.’

Film London - Film London is one of the larger Regional Screen Agencies and obviously covers the London area. It strives to up London’s film culture and to ensure that London has a prosperous media sector by providing most aspects of film production, including research resources and location development. Formed in 2003 and partly funded by the UK Film Council, Film London also receives funding from the London Development Agency, Skillset, Arts Council England London and even the Mayor of London. In 2009 production figures state that Film London helped to assist with 13% of feature films and 19% of shorts. Several projects funded by Film London have gone on to do well at award ceremonies with the short film ‘I Do Air’ picking up a BAFTA.

Northern Film & Media - Northern Film & Media is the screen agency for the North East of England and aims to develop expertise, in both companies and individuals, in the areas of TV, film, animation and a host of multi-media and new technologies. Formed in 2002, they have since been very successful, providing support, training, schemes, services, workshops and networking events for both professional and non-professional film-makers, and with the help of the latest technologies they are able to host events which attract audiences wanting to be a part of the developments in film, TV, animation and other digital media. They work in conjunction with The UK Film Council and also work alongside established organisations such as ONE North East and Business Link.

Vision & Media - Vision & Media is the screen agency for the North West of England, which aims to support new film-makers while providing support, advice, programmes and projects for people already within the media and those who are wanting to enter into any type of media production including TV, radio, publishing, music, games and of course film. They also aim to help productions find locations and crew within the North West region with their extensive crew and location database. They believe in supporting festivals, as they are vital to the development of film-makers, and in helping to grow and attract business while promoting creativity and culture and developing skills and talent.

Screen East - Screen East is the Regional Screen Agency for the East of England, focusing on mainly TV and film production and providing locations, facilities and crew for new, emerging directors. Funded by the UKFC and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) they take film and education seriously trying to develop young people’s understanding of film through different media schemes. They also believe in the importance of cinemas and festivals with regional cinemas such as Village Screen, a rural touring cinema scheme providing quality film screenings in community venues throughout Norfolk being supported by them.

Screen South - Screen South has a close connection with The UK Film Council acting as a key route for the flow of information between the Film Council and other regional organisations and film-makers. It primarily focuses on digital shorts made in the South East, particularly in Kent and Surrey, providing the crew and locations for these shorts. However they have also set up different programmes for aspiring feature length, short or even documentary film-makers. The latest in these line of programmes being ‘docs360’ a nine month development programme and competition for documentary film-makers where you could receive £25,000 if you win. Screen South also hosts festivals where awards are handed out in association with Skillset and have also screened shorts using the latest digital technology at the famous Pinewood Studios.

Screen West Midlands - Screen West Midlands provides support and funding for films such as the first MySpace user-generated film ‘Faintheart’ by being able to provide production support with the availability of both crews and locations. They believe in developing audiences on both a national and an international level by making film “…stimulating, entertaining and sustainable” and have strong beliefs about their investment in education as they believe that film is a medium for individual development, growth and creativity with even a section on their website dedicated to a range of resources solely for educational purposes.

Screen Yorkshire - Screen Yorkshire is the Regional Screen Agency for Yorkshire and Humber and like the other regional agencies provides funding and support for the development of films made within the area. Funded by Yorkshire Forward and The UK Film Council they again take education and film seriously with a section on their website devoted to educational resources. There is also a database of crew and locations to help with the production issues of shorts.

South West Screen - South West Screen is based in Bristol and uses several of The UK Film Councils schemes, including Media Box, to help disadvantaged teenagers by providing post-graduate bursaries for graduates to set up their own business or project.

As a short film-maker, what funds could you yourself apply for?

As a short film-maker I would obviously need to have a strong narrative and good, original plot to gain funding for my film and may even have to supply my own crew and scout my own locations. However I could apply for funding through The UK Film Councils Digital Shorts Scheme or through one of the Regional Screen Agencies with my regional agency being Screen South; Screen South may be slightly more helpful than the Digital Shorts Scheme however as it can provide me with advice and crew members through their online databases and expertise.

Part 3 - Other Funding Sources

Outside of The UK Film Council, are there any other schemes that exist to help fund short films?

Although The UK Film Council and the nine Regional Screen Agencies are the most well known, and often first port of call when it comes to funding short films there are several other organisations and schemes that provide both support, funding and advice for short film-makers.

The first of these is First Light Movies which is funded by The UK Film Council. First Light Movies is a digital short film-making scheme that is also a part of Media Box (which is especially for disadvantaged teenagers.) First Light Movies offers children and young people opportunities to participate in and learn about film-making; aiming to increase the number of shorts made by young people, particularly those from a disadvantaged background.

Next up is Skillset which is responsible for funding developing creative industries. The Skillset Film Skills Fund aims to expand the UK film industry by ensuring a supply of skilled and talented professionals.

Finally there is Media Desk UK, the information point for the Media Programme, which offers support and advice for UK applicants. The Media Programme offers funding for both film and television, covering distribution and the organisation of festivals for new films. Regional funding is also available for smaller projects.

Part 4 - Festivals

Make notes about the kinds of festivals that short film-makers can apply to, to have their works entered in.

There are various different festivals that short film-makers can apply to in order to have their short screened and hopefully get themselves noticed, these include:

Encounters International Film Festival - Established in 1995 and based in Bristol, the Encounters Festival is held around November every year. It has various different sponsors including Bristol City Council, South West Screen, The South West Of England Regional Development Agency, Skillset, Aardman, FilmFour, ITV West and the University of Bristol.

KinoFilm - KinoFilm is held in Manchester and helps to support film-makers from the Manchester area by giving them and their shorts priority to be screened at their festival Kino Shorts 10. Kino Shorts 10 was established in 1995 and has since supported over 3000 individual film-makers and screened over 20,000 short films from millions of international submissions. As well as their yearly festival they have also created the ‘Shorts for Cinema Tour’ which enables short films to be screened in various independent cinemas across the North of England. KinoFilm is mainly funded by The UK Film Council with their aim being to create an awareness and understanding of the short film format through the exhibition, distribution and marketing of shorts.

Soho Shorts - Soho Shorts is also known as the Rushes Festival. Established in 1998 and run in London’s West End, it is a 10 day event with over 140 free screenings and seminars in both bars and cinemas. The festival has various different competitive categories including ‘Short Film’, ‘Newcomers’, ‘International’, ‘Long Form’, ‘Documentary’, ‘Animation’, ‘Music Video’ and ‘Broadcast Design’ with their main sponsors being the BFG (Big Film Group), Rushes, Sony and the Short Film Festival. The festival also has strong connections with BBC Film, Fujifilm Recording and the UK Screen Association.

Short Film Festival - Established in 1956 and held within London, Short Films is a major ten day event with over 200 films being screened at ten top London venues. It is the UK’s largest public event with it’s key sponsor being The UK Film Council.

Leeds International Film Festival - Leeds Film are unique in the fact that they screen any genre of film and believe that anything under 45 minutes is classed as a short. They have well-known sponsors such as VUE Cinema, The UK Film Council and Leeds City Council as well as also being supported by the University of Leeds.

How do the festivals market and promote themselves?

There are many different ways to market and promote a festival depending on who the target market is. For example social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook may be used to target a young, student audience while print advertising may be successful in targeting older audiences by appearing in the film sections of newspapers and magazines. Print advertisements in media magazines such as ‘Sight&Sound’ are another successful way of promoting your festival as these magazines will be read by up-and-coming film-makers and audiences interested in attending your festival. Leeds Film helps promote themselves and gain an audience by selling tickets for their festivals on their website.

Why is it important to be screened at one?

It is tremendously important to be screened at a film festival, whether it be a national festival such as Leeds Film or a major international festival such as Cannes, there will be a wide range of industry professionals at these festivals allowing your film to gain recognition and gain you criticism and advice which could make or break your film-making career.

Who attends them?

Festivals are attended by literally everyone from within the film industry with film critics, directors, agencies and even the stars of the films themselves making an appearance. The press and it’s journalists are also there commenting on the films and the celebrities who have attended. The general public may also attend festivals however this may depend on which festival it is.

How are they supported?

Festivals are usually supported by a wide variety of different sponsors with the city in which the festival is held being a key sponsor; Leeds Film and the Encounters Festival in Bristol are sponsored by both their city councils and universities. Regional Screen Agencies and The UK Film Council are also major sponsors of UK festivals, alongside other media institutions such as FilmFour, the BBC and Sony.

What have you noticed about the structure/style of the sites?

The majority of the sites are fairly similar with all but KinoFilm’s site being aesthetically pleasing due to the smart, hi-tech look of the sites and fresh colours used; they are also all easy to use and find your way around. The Encounters Festival website looks young and appealing due to a yellow and black colour scheme and a video player which shows images of several different short films; however there is hardly any information on the site and so therefore I find this site to be one of the least successful. KinoFilm’s site is the complete opposite of the Encounters site with it being a basic, un-engaging website that is neither appealing or enticing although it has a great deal of information and the site is easy to navigate your way around. Soho Shorts and Leeds Film were the most similar sites with both having a smart, hi-tech look to them and a fair amount of information featured on both sites with Soho Shorts having various different sections dedicated to the festival including information on the judges and sponsors while Leeds Film included an A-Z of films shown at the festival. Short Films was also fairly similar to both Soho Shorts and Leeds Film’s sites but had limited yet informative information.

What are the other key national festivals for short films?

There are a few other national festivals for short films including The London Film Festival. The London Film Festival is part of the British Film Institute and is funded by the National Lottery. It is sponsored by The Times newspaper and features an array of different awards mainly dedicated to feature-length films; there is also a section on the website dedicated to shorts called ‘Short Cuts & Animation’.

What are the key international festivals for short films?

There are several key festivals for short films including The LA Shorts Fest which is the largest short film festival in the world with over 80,000 attendees. Held in Hollywood, California it is unlike other short film festivals as it shows any genre ranging from action/adventure to romance. It has a high celebrity profile with many famous faces such as Scarlett Johansson and Courtney Cox attending. However these celebrities don’t just attend the festival, actress Demi Moore even screened her first directorial debut ‘Streak’, featuring her daughter Rumer Willis, here.

The Aspen Short Film Fest is another key international festival with over 30,000 participants. Established in 1979 and committed to showing original content only the festival offers free enrichment opportunities to help broaden individual skills across the film industry.

Cannes is one of the biggest and most well known film festivals in the world with thousands of big names attending. Held in France it has two awards for short films these are: The Jury Prize for Short Film and The Palm D’or Award for Short Film.

Finally there is Worldwide Shorts, an annual short film festival held in Toronto, Canada. Worldwide Shorts is credited by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and has over 3000 short films submitted for screening every year with 250 of these submissions being chosen and screened over the course of five days. Winners of the categories Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short are even eligible to be nominated for The Oscars.

Find out about any national or international student film festivals.

There are few national student film festivals; one of these is Screen Test - The National Student Film Festival. Established in 2004 and held in Bristol over the course of three days it is made up of a variety of workshops and celebrity guest speakers as well as screenings of films and even an awards ceremony.

The Cambridge International Student Film Festival is one of the only international student film festivals and is the first international student-led film festival in the UK “…bringing together student film-makers, industry professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world” to showcase shorts and celebrate emerging talent in a three day event. Cash prizes of up to £250 are also available due to generous sponsorship.

Part 5 - Online Screening

What sort of films are exhibited at these sites?

A diverse range of films, mainly shorts but some feature length, are exhibited at these sites with The BBC Film Network, FilmFour and Virgin Media Shorts all screening far more professional, artistic films compared to YouTube and Atom. The BBC, FilmFour and Virgin Media are screening films that have been created by individuals who have a passion for film-making and who take it seriously with The BBC only showing shorts that have won awards and Virgin Media only showing the top ten shorts for that year. The BBC Film Network exhibit’s a wide range of shorts including drama, comedy, documentary and animation while FilmFour showcases over 150 shorts of varying genres. Meanwhile YouTube and Atom allow any film to be uploaded to their sites with Atom showing a collection of comedy shorts that can be either animation or real-life footage and YouTube allowing any genre of film to be uploaded. Vimeo is similar to both YouTube and Atom as it allows it’s users to upload their videos straight onto the website however it differs in the fact that it takes film-making more seriously than the others with several serious short films being exhibited on their site.

Who is the audience?

The majority of the audience who visits these sites and watches the films exhibited are aspiring film-makers, film industry professionals such as critics and directors or generally just people who enjoy watching shorts for pleasure. For example The BBC Film Network is available to anyone who wants to watch the films exhibited there and so therefore is used to promote emerging shorts to a main stream audience. FilmFour’s audience is fairly similar to The BBC’s while Atom’s audience are people interested in sci-fi and technology with animation shorts being extremely popular amongst it’s audience.

What is the submission process?

The sites’ submission processes differ from each other with The BBC and Virgin Media having lengthy submission processes where you have to sign up to become a member of the sites first and then complete a submission form alongside uploading your film (for Virgin Media) and sending in a hard copy (for The BBC.) These submissions are then watched by an industry panel and are then either put onto The BBC’s website or put through to the next stage of the competition for Virgin Media Shorts. With this submission style process there is obviously a chance that your film may not get put through and so therefore will not be viewed whereas with sites such as YouTube, Atom and Vimeo you simply have to create an account and upload your film for it to be viewed. Trigger Street is similar to YouTube, Atom and Vimeo in the fact that your film can simply be uploaded directly on to the website however you have to review a number of other films first.

What are the benefits of having a film screened on site as opposed to another?

There’s a wide range of benefits to having your film screened online and of course these benefits differ from site to site. For example The BBC Film Network holds your film for five years once being published on the site with audiences able to get in contact with you to give professional feedback and advice. Feedback is also one of the main advantages when having your film exhibited on Trigger Street; however your film can easily be removed and there are several digital requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to have your film screened here. Atom is easily the most beneficial however as it allows distribution through the use of the Internet, mobiles and Xbox downloads, with opportunities to even have your short screened on TV through the programme Atom TV. Top users of the site can even earn a shared revenue payment; however this site and it’s benefits are only for those working in the comedy genre.

What have you noticed about the structure/style of the sites and their presentation of the material?

I have noticed that each of the sites can be easily navigated with the clear, organised layouts of the sites being the main reason for this. The films exhibited are also easily accessible with The BBC Film Network giving all films their own online profile helping to add to the easy navigation. However with Trigger Street you have to sign up and become a member before being able to access certain areas of the site and watch any content; therefore not as many films may get viewed, a disadvantage of their membership scheme.

Evaluate their effectiveness in terms of the exposure they achieve for the films and their makers, and also in terms of their potential audience.

Overall all of these websites help to get up-and-coming film-makers and their films noticed; however some do this more successfully than others. The BBC Film Network is one of the most successful when it comes to achieving exposure for the films and their makers with the help of the film-makers own online profile showcasing their works, helping to build a fan-base and get word round about them and their work. Atom and Trigger Street also provide good exposure for new and unknown film-makers particularly if your short is displayed on the homepages of these sites, however with Trigger Street you have to become a member before being able to view anything. FilmFour, Vimeo and YouTube are possibly the least successful when it comes to good exposure for you and your film as the shorts on the FilmFour website don’t get as much exposure as other sections of the website do and Vimeo and YouTube have so many videos that you have to specifically search for the films themselves.

Part 6 - Short Screenplay Writing

Investigate the advice given to support new writers. Make notes.

The screenplay of a film is a key, integral part of the film itself and it’s success, as without the screenplay there would not be a film in the first place and a bad screenplay would ensure the film’s reputation as a flop. There are various different websites that offer guidance and advice to support new writers when attempting to create a successful screenplay; one of these is Screen Online which discusses how a new focus on short films has lead to the emergence of a whole new host of script writers and gives a list of key questions that script writers are faced with when beginning to write a screenplay. These six key questions are:

- Who is the protagonist?
- What is the active question, which is the basis of the action in the film?
- Who or what opposes the protagonist?
- From whose point of view is the audience being shown the story?
- What is it about? What is the theme?
- What is the style of the film?

The first question is possibly the most important as the protagonist is key to the storyline of the film and in most cases narrates the film, although occasionally the story will be told by another character. The protagonist must also carry the narrative along to reach it’s end conclusion.

The next important aspect to consider is the need for a want, a need or an obligation that the protagonist must fulfil in order to drive the story along and reach the climax of the piece. Alongside the want, need or obligation must also be something from stopping the protagonist from fulfilling this, the answer to this being the antagonist of the film. The antagonist needs to repel the protagonist and in most films makes the protagonist do something out of character.

The point of view from which the story is being told is crucial to how the film is conveyed and so therefore if the wrong point of view is used then a completely different narrative would be played out. The majority of short films come from the point of view of a single character whereas a feature length film with more time and more characters could use several characters’ points of view throughout the storyline.

The theme and what the film is about are extremely important to any film but are particularly important to shorts; although what the theme of the film is and what it’s all about aren’t usually discovered until after the first draft. However certain genres of film are exceptions to this rule as they usually give a clear indication of theme from the outset. It is also important to consider the underlying themes within the film rather than focusing on the most obvious.

The style of the film is the final aspect that has to be taken into consideration when it comes to creating a screenplay; the most common style for short films is naturalism as it is difficult to place a lot of information in such a short space of time, however some shorts use other styles such as point of view.

Another website that also offers advice for aspiring script writers is Netribution; where Andrew Lowes, the writer of the piece, describes how he thinks the process of writing a short is essential when it comes to aspiring feature-length script writers. The first and foremost piece of advice given is that due to the difficulty in being able to screen shorts, particularly longer shorts over half an hour, it is best to keep your short as short as possible, bearing in mind that due to the short time in which you’ve got to get your story across, the film must be simple and direct for your audience to understand with not too many bits and pieces crammed in just to show your abilities.

The next piece of advice given is to use as few characters as possible as more information can be given in a shorter amount of time this way and you can create more complex characterisations with fewer characters.

Dialogue is obviously the main aspect when writing a script, this article says how every word has to mean something to provide some sort of information and keep the story progressing for the audience. Original dialogue is essential and every word spoken conveys something about that character.

Budget is a restricting factor when it comes to writing a screenplay as the majority of shorts have a fairly low budget and so therefore the locations and action taking place within the film all have to be fairly realistic; budget usually being the main reason for the naturalistic style of shorts.

The Script Factory is another online article which discusses script writing and the training needed to be successful at this. The article suggests that individual creativity should be prioritised over craft and techniques as focus on these produces screen-writers of a poor quality. However knowing how to construct a scene is vitally important as there should always be a meaning of some kind within the scene.

Part 7 - Training & Development

Investigate other agencies and organisations that offer support to filmmakers and make notes on the training they offer and how they help to develop projects.

Over the years a variety of different agencies and organisations have been set up to offer support to would-be film-makers by giving them training and helping to develop their projects. One of these is Lighthouse, an agency based in the South East that provides training courses at both beginner and intermediate levels for a whole host of areas within the film industry including script development, storyboarding, the digital arts and post-production techniques. One of these training courses is Pure:Dyne which provides training in film editing software. Lighthouse also offers varying levels of commissions for a whole host of films made by up-and-coming film-makers however the majority of these commissions are art-based rather than being film focused. One of the more film-based focuses of the agency is Guiding Lights, which nurtures emerging film talent within the UK with one of it’s mentors in previous years being Danny Boyle, the director of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Raindance is another organisation which offers a wide variety of courses in the areas of writing, producing and directing; these courses can even lead to the gain of a diploma. The producing courses on offer use diverse methods which are currently in use in the industry while the directing courses help to set you up for your own first film and help to create your own individual style. One of the best production courses for shorts is the Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking course which details how to shoot a film and sell it, both in a variety of formats while two of the best all-round courses are the How to Make a Short Film course and The Short Film Project. The majority of courses on offer are taught by industry professionals with one of the short film courses, Story Design in Short Fiction Films, being taught by Richard Raskin, a renowned professor who specialises in screenwriting and video production at Aarhus University in Denmark. The course includes a talk about short film writing theories and is extremely helpful to both new and experienced short film-makers. The organisation also holds an annual film festival.

Skillset is the main training agency for media in the UK and has worked with a variety of other organisations to create projects that help up-and-coming film-makers. It teaches methods of funding, marketing and distribution to independent film-makers as well as offering a variety of courses in writing, producing and directing. Many universities and organisations are Skillset recommended with Bournemouth, Cornwall and the National Film and Television School all being Skillset approved. Skillset also has three film academies; these academies produce films that are shown at a variety of film festivals all over the country.

The Script Factory is an agency whose main focus is helping to develop screenwriters through a wide variety of courses such as script reading and story design. These courses help writers to understand writing theories and varying themes within a film and can even help to get the film made by introducing the writer to a “friendly producer”.