I have seen a worrying trend in some of the short film competitions I’ve seen over the last few years, where creativity loses out to high production values and polish.
Often this is because the competition is held by a company looking to use the film for self-promotion and wouldn’t know creativity if it clubbed them to death.
Instead, they go for the most professional looking short which looks like it’s had money thrown at it. Then 50Kisses popped onto my radar; here was a competition which truly wanted to push creative people together, to have everyone helping one another for the love of film.
It feels less like a competition and more like a community of people encouraging each other to become better and offering advice. Creativity is key here and this is great news for people like me; a young filmmaker without the backing of a production company, without a ready-made crew and with a budget only as deep as my pockets - It took me four years to save up for my camera equipment!
I chose to direct ‘Last Chance’ by Nick Grills, a script which I felt allowed plenty of freedom in how it could be portrayed and didn’t demand effects, sets or props that were out of my reach - I suspect there will be very different adaptations between the directors that have chosen it. I began as a lone wolf, a man and his camera, and hunted down three fellow crew members who knew their craft well and could support me. Then I was to discover my two actors, who compliment their role, and each other, beautifully.
I’ve pulled together a fantastic team. This is a group who isn’t being paid and yet puts the hours in because we all share a vision and a desire to create something to be proud of. As a production team without a budget we can’t cut corners; we resort to elastic bands instead of focus pulling devices on our cameras, we reflect light with shiny cardboard rather than true reflectors. Nobody has a fixed role, we all help one another to achieve our goals, and that truly is the best environment for a filmmaker – if you can film without money, you can do wonders with a budget when you finally have one. It doesn’t always work the other way around.
Unlike how a photographer can take hundreds of photos of family and friends before he takes stills of a professional model, filmmaking is not something you can truly practise. Having your crew set up, your actors at the ready and your scene about to play out is often the only time you get to learn from working with real people in such an environment, especially in an industry where time is money. And so, these opportunities are always a fantastic learning experience.
Therefore, whilst I am most definitely not saying that hands on creativity and larger budgets are mutually exclusive, I am saying that this is an opportunity that has to be seized by all with an interest and never to think that you don’t stand a chance without the funds. In the production stills which are coming through I would love to see more from the smaller teams, the directors making do with what they have, those of you who don’t have the glamorous sets or the expensive equipment and where creativity and passion is your greatest weapon. 50Kisses is where we get to compete with the giants, on this platform we stand up to them. Let’s show them what we can do.
Team - Miror Image