A UK-based blog about short films and short film-making.

30 May 2005

Competition: get your short on a horror DVD


Celebrating the release of The Last Horror Movie on May 13, Tartan Films have teamed up with Julian Richards – the director of the film – to offer a fantastic prize to potential horror film makers: your own film could be included as an extra on the DVD release of The Last Horror Movie (released on tartan Video October 2005). The winner will not only have their film included on the DVD – but they will be working with Julian Richards on his next production!

A graduate of The National Film School, Julian Richards won several awards for his early short films, including Best Film at the British Short Film Festival.

To take part in this competition submit your short (under 5 minutes) horror movie by Thursday June 30th. The criteria are ORIGINALITY, SCARINESS, SUBVERSIVENESS, HUMOUR. Entries will be accepted on the following formats: DVD, Mini DV, DV Cam.

All entries must be sent to: Last Horror Movie Short Tartan Video 27-28 Poland Street London W1F 8QW, and for more information log onto www.thelasthorrormovie.co.uk

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25 May 2005

Short film channel for UK mobile phones

Shorts International, in partnership with NTL Broadcast and mobile phone company O2, will be trialling a short film TV channel (Shorts TV), broadcasting films direct to mobile phones.

The six month trial, which runs from September 2005, will be available to 350 customers of 02 in the Oxford area of England.

As well as Shorts International, the 16 channels will include BSkyB, Chart Show TV, Discovery Networks Europe, and Turner Broadcasting.

O2 will soon begin the process of recruiting triallists from within the Oxford ring road. Triallists will be between 18 and 45 years of age, and spend the majority of their day (ie live, work or study) in Oxford. Initially, handsets will be provided to all 350 triallists by Nokia - the new 7710 which, for the purposes of the trial, will come with a special receiver.

Shorts International CEO Carter Pilcher commented: “We are confident that our experience in programming short films across all different media will allow us to create an exciting channel for this new and challenging audience.”

From ScreenDaily.com, Screen International's on-line news service.

Super Shorts Film Festival 2005

The UK festival for films under 5 minutes is now inviting entries. Super Shorts Film Festival 2005 will be showing the selected films in cinemas and on screens around central London, either in mini-cinemas or venues suitable for screening films. The aim is allow audiences to drop into venues, whether planned or by chance, during a lunch break, before/after work, and screenings are expected to be free of charge.

Following that, films will be shown on the UK's only not-for-profit TV channel (the Community Channel), and then on the web.

The festival has a great little website, including some cracking films from previous years (in particular see Big Career, How to tell when a relationship is over in 90 seconds, Le Cheval: 2.1, and The divorce). There are also some helpful interviews with the makers of some of these films.

There is no charge for entries, which must be in by 22 July 2005.

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19 May 2005

Short film distributors

Big Film Shorts

"For Broadcast, Cable, Satellite, DVD & Home Video
Great Short Films from around the World."
A US-based distributor.

Apollo Cinema

"Apollo Cinema is an international distributor of short films of all types and genres. Apollo sells to television stations (broadcast, cable, pay-per-view, and satellite), internet sites, airlines, theaters, military bases, home video and DVD."
Also US-based.

Village Film

"Village srl is an international distribution company specialized in
fiction and animation short films and documentaries."
Based in Rome.

Short Circuit Films

Not strictly a distributor. "Short Circuit Films organises film marketing and distribution seminars; short film programming services and also showcases the work of the UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund Digital Shorts Scheme."

Dazzle Films

UK-based distributor set up by Dawn Sharpless. Some of the films that Dazzle represents can be see at:
Atom Films (search for Dumping Elaine, Shelf life, virus) and at the BBC's Film Network (search for 6.06.04, The commuter, Dumping Elaine, The end, Fishy, Le cheval 2.1, Little clumps of hair, Looters, No deposit no return, The silent treatment and Virus.]

Bureau Sales Ltd

"Bureau Sales is an international short film sales agency now in its third year of operation (successor to PD&B Films). Whilst many competitors have come and since gone in this period, we continue to grow and achieve success after success. We have an understanding of not only the short film market, but short filmmakers themselves, that is second to none. Being closely linked with The Short Film Bureau we share the same ethos: putting the interests of the filmmakers first and foremost."

Shorts International

Also known as Brit Shorts. "BRITSHORTS LTD was established in 2000 as the UK’s premiere short film specialists. Since then Britshorts has been involved in the successful marketing, distribution and production of short film. Britshorts are always looking for new ways to develop the short film market to enable and encourage the growth of film making talent around the world. SHORTS INTERNATIONAL is the programming and distribution arm of Britshorts and is headquartered in London with a satellite office in New York."

In the programme for the 2005 Rushes Soho Shots Festival, Felicity Barratt of Shorts International is quoted saying that they are trying to buy up catalogues of short films from all over the world. They have picked up the BFI's back catalogue - a huge number of short films. Barratt also sees a range of new opportunities for distributing short films, including viral and video-on-demand, particularly for mobile phones.

For sales contact hugh AT shortsinternational.com, for acquisitions contact simon AT shortsinternational.com, and for North and South America sales contact susan AT shortsinternational.com

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16 May 2005

Exploiting the long tail

So there's a theory from the editor of Wired magazine that implies that short films can now make their money back, thanks to the combination of online distribution and the sort of technology that tells Amazon customers that if they bought book X then they might like book Y.

The online distribution means that the cost of selling an additional copy of your film is next to nothing (no VHS or DVD to copy), just the cost of building and maintaining a website and providing storage and bandwidth to allow films to be downloaded. This makes it profitable for online companies to shove as much material as they can onto their websites. Almost anything is worth offering on the offchance it will find a buyer - even if they only ever sell a few copies of a film, they can make a profit on each unit sold (no minimum print run in the digital world). So it's not just the best-sellers that make profits for these companies - even niche films like shorts can make money (the idea of the long tail). According to the Wired article
"...eBay is mostly tail...niche and one-off products."
It's the combination of these low costs with the Amazon-type software that allows an online company to direct you towards films that you might like, and can also take account of 'viewer's recommendations', so that if your film is a good one people will be more likely to find it.

This sounds plausible to me, but there are a couple of drawbacks if this is to be a way for shorts to make money. The first is, I don't know of a site that currently has the very high quality, well known short films that will draw people in in the first place. The sites I don know with some high quality shorts don't charge for them. The second problem is that I imagine the price for - say - a 7 minute film will still be very low. Say that my share as a the film-maker were to be 10p for each download. That's still a hell of a lot of downloads before you make back anything like the cost of a short film. And it's not really an established thing to pay for a short film, in the way it always has been to pay for a music single or a book. So while it may be a plausible model for getting my film seen by more people, and a small amount of income would be better than none, it's not a business model from my point of view.

Thanks to Matt Milloy whose posting on Shooting People drew this article to my attention.

15 May 2005

Real but unusual

I attended a New Producers Alliance networking event on 26 October 2004, on the theme of the 'Producer/Writer relationship'. One of the speakers - Linda Aronson - quoted a tip from one of the screenwriters of the TV series 'Moonlighting'. The phrase she used - "real but unusual" - has stayed with me since then as a summary of everything that a good short film script should be.

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Kicking off the site

Hi, welcome to this blog. This site will be of interest to anyone who watches or makes short films, particularly if you are UK-based. I'll be using this site to post reviews of short films, useful or interesting links, and to discuss my own experiences in making short films. Enjoy!

Stuart Reid
Black Mole Productions Limited