One minute wonder
To kick start the New Year, The List joins forces with Metro Ecosse to launch a new national short film competition that’s open to everyone over the age of 16. Paul Dale explains what the competition is aiming to achieve
The American Industrialist and philanthropist John D Rockefeller may have had a point when he wrote that ‘All competition is a sin.’ But let’s face it some competitions are less reprehensible than others and indeed, by that same measure, some competitions (notice the use of the plural) are good, moral and indeed virtuous.
One such competition is One Minute Wonder, a national film prize that is being launched by The List this month. Developed in association with production company Metro Ecosse, our aims are true and simple. We want, with your help, to create five one minute films, which will be put into a showcase and then shown across Europe. The reasons we want to do this is to highlight the fantastic new talent that we know is out there, both tapped and untapped by the Scottish film industry. We’re also keen to highlight the great facilities that are available for making films in this country.
Launching on Friday 12 January, we will be asking for admissions of one minute scripts from anyone over the age of 16. The scripts will represent Scotland and incorporate this year’s theme - WILD! The deadline for admissions will be Friday 16 March.
A team of judges (which includes eminent Scottish filmmakers, short film programmers, Scottish Screen representatives and film critics) will choose five winners who will be announced in The List magazine on Wednesday 11 April. The winners will then see their films shot and edited by Metro Ecosse. In late July the films will be screened at various Scottish cinemas before being taken to some European film festivals and then ultimately on to New York where it is hoped that they will be screened during Tartan Week in 2008. There are loads of guidelines available for your perusal along with an entry form on our award-winning website (www.list.co.uk) but best of all there are prizes galore. Not only will you see your film made with guidance by the professional team at Metro Ecosse and then distributed across Europe but there will be one to one filmmaking sessions with judges and a chance to visit a film set for one day, plus a whole load of List goody bags which will include DVDs, books, CDs and much more. The judges will also choose an overall winner who will win an iBook with full filmmaking facilities, kindly donated by Metro Ecosse.
So what do readers and the team at The List get out of this? It’s not just for that fuzzy feeling of warmth you get from encouraging major new talent. The list of filmmaking greats who have come through short films and commercials (the ultimate commercial short film form) is almost endless, and if we can help identify the next feature film giants, we can bring them to your attention earlier. Here are a few of the more prominent filmmakers to have kicked off their careers with short films: Ridley Scott (started in car commercials), Alan Parker (shorts and commercials), Lindsay Anderson (documentary shorts), Todd Solondz (truly insane musical shorts), Alexander Payne (ditto), Tim Burton (animated shorts), Peter Greenaway (avant garde shorts), Stephen Daldry (coming of age shorts), Lynne Ramsay (natural realist shorts) and so on and so on. The point is that in the beginning there was and is short films; they are the cradle from which all great talent is nurtured. The List and Metro Ecosse want to ensure that more Scotland-based talents are nurtured.
Chatting to Metro Ecosse’s company director Oscar Askin, I was reminded of just how exciting this is for everyone involved on the organisational side. For The List it will be the first time that we have done a filmmaking competition of this size and for Metro Ecosse, says Askin, ‘This is going to be so exciting and totally different for us. We work for big corporate houses, big blue chip companies, that’s what we are usually involved with, so it is exciting for us to be involved with something so creative where people can just let their imaginations go daft.’ Askin does however register a note of caution for any contenders brought up on big budget blockbusters. ‘You know with a competition like this, people will need to use their imaginations instead of huge budgets, so if someone wants to make a film set in the Bahamas we are going to have to find a part of Granton that looks like the Bahamas - now that will be a challenge!’
Just a few of the international filmmakers who started out their careers by making short movies
Chronicler of suburban angst. His short films showed great promise, but early features failed dismally
Early short George Lucas in Love
Career best Palindromes (above)
BBC set designer turned commercials director whose 1979 landmark movie Alien shot him to fame
Early short Boy on a Bicycle
Biggest blockbusterBlade Runner (pictured)
Payne’s signature filmmaking style is his singular belief in character-driven storytelling
Early short Carmen
Biggest blockbuster Sideways
Burton’s early short film bore all the hallmark’s of his more recent film techniques
Early short Vincent (pictured)
Biggest blockbuster Willie Wonka
One early Lucas short, THX 1138, won first prize at the National Student Film Festival in 1967
Early short Freiheit
Biggest blockbuster Star Wars (pictured)
Started out as an advertising copywriter. Broke through by writing a screenplay for David Puttnam
Early short(ish) films Our Cissy, Footsteps, Bugsy Malone
Critical hits Midnight Express, The Commitments