This week’s blog is more moving away from a rant and being based more on a promotion. Now normally we don’t like to promote things here at the Focus Project; certainly we will talk about films, books and photographers and give our impression and critique on them, maybe even encouraging people to see or read them. However we obviously include the critique within this so people can clearly see how we got to that conclusion. This blog will instead be about a competition. Now the Encounters festival was covered by Benji back in November, but again that was more of a running list on how the festival operated etc. The competition in question that I shall be writing about is the new Film 4 competition ‘Scene Stealers’.
This competition is a mixed bag from first glance. They opened a catalogue of their films which they have produced over the course of the past 30 years. Titles within this catalogue include ’127 Hours’, ‘Shallow Grave’, ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Croupier’, ‘In Bruges’, ‘Happy-go-lucky’ and ‘The Last King Of Scotland’. Now this is just a short amount of the films actually available on the list (I simply mentioned the films which stood out to me). The point of this competition is to remake a scene from one of these films, keeping it under 2 minutes in length. Now of course this can lead to some pretty funny, weird and pointless remakes. Therefore is may not seem that great; anybody with a camera is going to be doing the toilet scene from ‘Trainspotting’ or someone trying to cut of their arm from ’127 Hours’. Already I can see some truly embarrassing entries for cinephiles to have to put up with; tarnishing great films.
An entry for ‘Trainspotting’ is already available on the site. This entry is trying too hard to be different and clever and simply take the context of trainspotting literally. A guy waiting around to watch trains. This obviously has nothing to do with the film what so ever, more so the title. So again we’ll all have to endure these types of entries over and over again. The prize, however, makes this competition stand out to be something truly intriguing and worth entering. There will be two winners; a global one and a UK one. The winners will get their stolen scene short broadcast on Film 4′s anniversary season. Not only this, a money prize is offered to the UK winner (£5000 contribution towards a micro-budget short) as well as mentoring from a Film 4 exec. This is definitely something worth entering as getting money for your filmmaking budget can be exhaustive, especially if you’re using your own money as you then become very aware of how much you are exactly spending. Of course £5000 may not seem that much, but considering ‘Clerks’
was made with $30,000, that’s not bad (‘Clerks’ running at 90 minutes means it confirms its place as a feature). £5000 can buy up some pretty decent professional equipment, covering camera and mics. Just leaving actors, locations and props to pay for, unless you want to hire equipment which would mean that you can spend more on actors etc. or of course if you already own your own equipment or have easy access to borrow equipment for free. There are many actors out there willing to work for free on short films simply because they are trying to break into the film and TV circuit; this simply acts as a way of networking for them, as the more people that see your film will also see their acting performance.
There have been competitions like this appear before from various different companies (all accept the mentoring from a Film 4 exec), but their method of selecting winners has always been the downside. Film 4 however has the right idea on how to select its winners which should mean that people who truly deserve to win do. Most other competitions like this will open the judging to a public vote. This is always bullshit. Simply because if a really popular person on facebook enters a film they may get thousands of votes for a complete piece of shit that nobody would normally vote for. Film 4 are putting all the entries up to a judging panel. They will select their favourites, not the public. Another issue with public voting is that the general public know fuck all about film. They may pick a film which has a high gloss finish but no content or meaning behind it simply because it looks nice. Again these judges will know about film as they live, eat and breathe it. They will be not only looking for film quality but potential to develop and work within the film industry once they have some of their other skill set refined.
This competition is one which myself and fellow focus project member Graham should be entering. We have yet to decide upon which film to steal a scene from or what take we may put on it. At the end of the day if we don’t win it then I think we’ll at least make something worth while, though of course we will win, especially as modest is my middle name….