Today I took a trip down to London’s Southbank to attend a day of the 9th London Short Film Festival (LSFF). When I arrived at the BFI, I headed to NFT3 to watch a selection of short films all about growing up and coming of age. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them all but the few I did watch were brilliant.
Downing: Set at an alcohol fuelled party, the film explored teenage sexuality and we see an oppressed gay teenager exacting revenge on his bully. I thought it was an incredibly witty and well produced short film.
Fifty: Produced in association with Screen West Midlands, this Birmingham based short film is a gritty exploration of life in the inner city. A confrontation on a bus spirals out of control as a man and his pregnant girlfriend get into an altercation with some youths, resulting in a tragic end.
Freak: An incredibly moving short film about a teenage boy who gets tormented by bullies at his school on a daily basis. It shows as he struggles with self-loathing and his body issues.
Join My Band: This light hearted Romantic Comedy depicts a nerdy schoolboy falling for a rebellious punk girl, who plays the harp. To get her to notice him, he forms a band with his friends and gets her to join them. A lovely concept which was fantastically executed.
After the Screening I went to the Blue Room, where there was a Short Film Masterclass taking place. It was a Q&A session with some of the short-film makers, Philip Ilson (the Festival Director) and Mark from B3 Media. Topics explored in the session included the purpose of short film, Classic examples of Directors who have used short films to get their foot in the door, each of the film maker’s route into the industry, what makes a good short film and what each of them had learnt from the short films they’d made.
I learnt that Short Films are important because they can really help launch film maker’s careers. They be used as show reel pieces and can generate public interest. Short films are a means to get your name out there via short film festivals or online.Ryan Vernava (The director of fifty) argued that it is reductive to call short films simply a call ground because they use narrative techniques that simply cannot be used in feature films. He also mentioned that with today’s society’s short attention spans, short films are becoming increasingly in-demand. A downside is that only very rarely do short films generate any income.
Mustapha Kseibeti (the director of Skateboards and Spandex) advised that if you want to make films, whether they be short films or features, that you need to watch a lot of great films and behind the scenes footage. He is self taught and said he learnt a lot from watching bonus content on DVDs. Taking his advice, after the Q&A I purchased a copy of Cinema 16 and I cannot wait to take a look at short films produced by well established directors.
Mark was particularly inspiring, saying young people have no excuses anymore. ‘If you want to make a film, just make a ******* film’ He spoke about all the different platforms available to us which provide film makers with opportunities to build up a fan base and prove to people what we are capable of.
Everyone on the panel agreed that it is hard to determine what makes a good short film, as it is mostly down to personal preference. But they did offer a few key things to making short films:
- Make sure the film is well thought out and you have determined what the message of your piece is.
- Make sure the characters and the world they live in are well developed.
- You only have a short time to do so, but make the audience care about your characters.
- Storyboard and plan, plan, plan!
- Try to make something that hasn’t been seen before or something very exciting.
- See what other people have done, make note of why and how it works.