Thursday, 17 May 2007

Digital Shorts - Part 2: Selection

The continuing tale of my journey as a writer on the UKFC / Screen South Digital Shorts Scheme. Part one took us up to the selection of one of my submitted projects for the initial shortlist in August 2006.

17th – 18th August 2006: two days of interviews held in Brighton, for representatives from each applying team. I’m there for the first of the two days. I’m told around 200 teams applied altogether, and 18 interviews happened on the 17th, including mine. So the long shortlist was somewhere around 36 teams.

The interviews were 15 minutes for the one-minuters, and 30 minutes for the longer ones; they were embedded in a day-long seminar about comedy from Sam Snape, which involved Q&A, screenings of some comedy shorts, and Sam’s enthusiastic stand-up style of interactive training. Later, there was a session with Sam on documentary shorts, and the next day - which I couldn’t make – saw an all-day drama seminar, which all were invited to attend. Some people who couldn’t do the whole day just turned up for their interview, but I liked to think of the seminar as a prize for getting that far, and I stayed for the day. I had lunch with a few of the other attendees down on the beach, as the weather was nice.

I then met with Miranda Robinson, Screen South’s head of development, and Pippa Brill, who would be working as script developer / editor with the winning teams. Also attending was Ricci-Lee Berry, production and development assistant. They gave me some good notes about what worked and what didn’t, and what could be done differently; we discussed various ideas. It was very much like a script development meeting, and not an interview. I decide I really want to work with these people.

30th August 2006: Final deadline to write a new draft of the screenplay based on the notes from my interview. Most other projects will have been given the same task, but some may have been asked to submit different or additional materials. These will now be considered before announcing the final shortlist for second interview. I don’t know exactly how long this final shortlist was; best guess: around 20 teams will be left.

4th September 2006: I get a call informing me that I’m through to the next stage. I’m quite happy to hear this news (understatement).

11th – 12th September 2006: The second set of interviews, held at the Film Council in London. As well as Miranda, Pippa and Ricci-Lee, there are a couple of other Film Council board members. I am nervous, but - again - everyone is very complimentary of my work. There are a few questions, back and forth, but it’s painless and over reasonably quickly – I think it lasted twenty minutes in all. It is here that the possibility of my directing the short is discussed: I turn the offer down. I’ve only ever wanted to be a writer, and I want someone with a little bit of experience to direct the film.

15th September 2006: I’m called on Friday afternoon by Miranda Robinson. I’ve got the gig. I’m ever so slightly chuffed (another understatement). Twelve live-action shorts will be made in all (7 long ones, and 5 short). Miranda tells me that Ricci-Lee Berry is interested in moving into a producer’s role, and asks me if I would like to work with her on ‘Out of the Frying Pan’. As I’ve already met Ricci-Lee, it won’t mean building a completely new working relationship, so it’s ideal. She’s very enthusiastic, and contacts me within a couple of hours of Miranda’s call. We talk about the project, and what to do next: we need a director.

To be Continued...


Lianne said...

Oh you are a tease, Stuart, dragging it all out like this ;-)

Stuart Perry said...

I admit it, I am a tease. But if I wrote it all up in one go, it would take forever, and be about two metres long to scroll down! More is coming soon; I hope it's still proving useful.

Lianne said...

Certainly is!

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