A few kind folks have expressed an interest in my experiences on the UK Film Council / Screen South Digital Shorts scheme over the past year. I’ll have to post this in a few chunks, when I find time. But here’s the first bit:
June 2006: I receive Screen South’s mailshot announcing the Digital Shorts scheme is open for applications, deadline in mid-July. There are three strands: ‘Long Shots’ for five to nine minute shorts, ‘Close Ups’ for one minute live-action, and ‘One Minute Wonders’ for one minute animation.
I have seen the scheme advertised in previous years, but not felt I had the right quality of script to put forward. And I had it in my head – perhaps correctly – that the scheme was not intended for writers who didn’t have anyone else attached to their projects. But, I have a strong nine-minute comedy screenplay perfect for the ‘Long Shots’ strand, and – scouring the guidelines - I find nothing in there about needing to have anyone else attached. In fact, one of the reasons for the scheme is to hook up talent, so I hoped my script would be enough for Screen South to put me together with director and producer.
July 2006: I polish the script, and put together the large amount of material required (this is certainly something that would be easier when applying as part of a team). Five copies each of the screenplay, my CV, a synopsis, a director’s statement of intent (I wrote this as guidelines for any director that became attached). Even though I didn’t have to submit any visual material, it was listed as an optional requirement: so, I drew up some storyboards, again as guidelines for future crew. I found out at my interview that the panel was impressed with the storyboards (though perhaps not with my stick-man art), so I’m glad I made the effort.
Mid-July: days before the deadline, I get the crazy idea that I should apply for the ‘Close-up’ one-minute strand as well. I’d had an idea rattling around my head for months that I was planning to write as a three-minute short, but it will be good practice to tell it in a disciplined way. It also might attract attention as it is a drama, and one-minuters are usually comedic. I have a day off work, write the script and prepare the materials, including more storyboards (five copies of everything). I put everything in the post, thinking that the long one is a definite contender, but that maybe it wasn’t worth rushing the short one, as it doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Mid-August: I get a call from Screen South. I’ve made it to the long shortlist. Hooray! But only for one of my projects: my one-minute drama “Out of the Frying Pan” is going through to the next stage of selection. The other one isn’t. Show’s what I know…