Short Filmmaking Seminar

On Monday 15 November, I attended a seminar on making short films, as part of the Show Me Shorts Film Festival. The Bergman Theatre at Paramount was packed with filmmakers after tips, and perhaps plebs wanting to know more about filmmaking. The event was hosted by StarNow.com.

Three filmmakers who have shorts screening in the festival were interviewed. The filmmakers were Paul Stanley-Ward, writer of Choice Night; Michelle Savill, writer/director/producer of Betty Banned Sweets; and Paul Campion, writer/director of Eel Girl (official website here) (IMDB page here). We got to see the films, and ask the filmmakers questions.

Paul Stanley-Ward talked about writing sparsely, only what will be shot, as Choice Night was shot on film. I really enjoyed the film: especially the performances, the story, the characters. It is a coming-of-age story about young love, and a boy riding along with his friends.

Michelle Savill spoke about her Honours study in Hamilton, for which her film was made; making the film pretty much by herself with her friends helping out. Betty Banned Sweets is the story of an Art School graduate who wants to travel, but stays at home. There is a sister character who travels and leaves him behind to look after their arthritic mother. To me, that is the story. But not according to Savill. She spoke about getting her film into festivals, and the NZFC picking it up. Useful stuff, especially as I am entering my Honours film, Harmless, into film festivals. Savill got her film into the Melbourne Film Festival, which is an A-list festival, after which the NZFC contacted her. Pretty cool – I’ll have to look at doing the same…

Paul Campion talked about his successes with both Eel Girl and his previous short, Night of the Hell Hamsters. There’s something to be said about knowing your audience and going for niche markets. Eel Girl sold itself based on the success of Night of the Hell Hamsters, and being made with help from Weta Workshop. I was especially interested in Campion’s distribution experience – he used Withoutabox also – and advice. Action points for me included building a website for Harmless, a presse, and teaser images.

Now I need to keep an eye on the Show Me Shorts Festival website for submission for next year. I should also get along to some of the screenings, but I’m a bit busy at the moment. Screening in the festival is the film Double Happy, which was directed by my old film tutor, Shahir Daud.

See below for more on the films screened.

Choice Night – excerpt

Betty Banned Sweets – excerpt

Eel Girl

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