On 3rd September, we pottered up to Café 1001 on Brick Lane, E1, to front our short film ‘Bloody Tourists’ at a screening hosted by London Short Film (LSF).
Resisting the twin temptations of attractively discounted bhuna and beer along the way, we walked into a smart and very well attended event showcasing the diverse work of eight filmmakers over two halves. We were also surprised and delighted to run into one of the stars of ‘Bloody Tourists’, actor and stuntman-in-the-making Harry Palmer who so willingly put himself forward to be chased down by an angry pack of dogs in an unflattering boiler suit.
These events are very useful things to pitch for and attend if you’re able to briefly suspend that competitive instinct to ‘rank’ your efforts against the work of others – there’ll always be something to praise right alongside something to pick apart. Indeed, it’s listening to the filmmakers after the fact that often sparks the most interest: visually gorgeous shorts that nevertheless disappointed the directors who shot them overall; interesting and engaging ‘story’ pieces that just clipped the last few narrative hurdles near the finishing line. Even if you can’t help your preconceived ideas of what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ short film, it’s always surprising how much more you learn from a Q&A, no matter how brief.
Being writers, we tend to look at – and therefore judge – everything from a narrative perspective. So what if you start with some incredible drone acrobatics, showing two circus clowns aggressively playing ping-pong at the edge of The Grand Canyon…? Do nothing to explore that engaging thread and you’ve produced nothing more than an advert for your piloting skills, right…?
One of the films on the evening’s bill seemed to fall into that kind of ‘image-heavy, narrative-light’ list of flicks for writers panning for storytelling gold to slosh dismissively back into the water. We watched – curious, then impatient, then confused – and then we sloshed it dismissively back into the water. After the completion of the first half, the filmmakers were invited to take the stage. We listened – curious, then a little more enlightened, then a little more forgiving – and we realised that their presentation was more a ‘near miss’ than it was an outright failure.
And wasn’t that, after all, the point of making and showing these shorts…? That these were the great ideas we had in our mind’s eye to begin with, and with all the budget, time and expertise constraints we faced along the way, this is how close we got to realising them…? That at least is worth showing some credit for.
We’re very grateful to LSF for picking our film for their event and hope to grace another Q&A sometime soon. If you’re wondering if we managed to suspend our competitive instinct on the night, let’s just say we came away fairly confident of a podium finish…