In 2012 the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards judging chair Justin Chadwick directed Boy, a 10-minute film that tells the story of a carpenter (played by Timothy Spall) who works on the Olympic Velodrome track. Winning the British Airways Great Britons competition, the compelling short film went on to be shown to more than six million people.
Written by British actor and screenwriter Prasanna Puwanarajah, Boy was directed by Chadwick and produced by Barnaby Spurrier. Actor and director Richard E Grant spent a year mentoring Prasanna, offering advice and guidance during the whole process. Using strong cinematography by Danny Cohen and a moving score by Alex Heffes, the overall production is beautifully uncomplicated to powerful effect, making it well worth a watch.
So, what are some of the benefits of creating a short film? Speaking to Chadwick he explains: ‘With a short film you can take an idea, an original story you want to tell, and you’re completely free to express yourself. You’re not bound (as much as a feature-length film) by market forces, target audiences, or any other potential influences. You have fewer people to satisfy and you can totally focus on servicing your story. It also gives you the chance to be precise and to explore a singular idea. I really do think some of a filmmaker’s happiest moments in their career is when they’re creating a short film.’
While Chadwick was an established voice within the industry when he made Boy, creating a short film is a brilliant way to learn about the filmmaking process without taking too many risks – you can experiment and find solutions while not committing yourself (financially and creatively) too much. As well as being a great way to network with crew members in your field, the prospect of a short film will appeal more to certain experts – knowing the project won’t take up too much time and is far more liberating creatively might well mean they’re more open to collaborating.
Taking your viewers on a story – an insight into a person, an event, or a moment – that has a clear beginning, middle and end can be hugely powerful and rewarding. Unlike a feature-length film, you don’t have time to introduce a whole cast of characters and all of their individual backstories, so honing in on one particularly strong idea can be an excellent exercise. Creative limitations can be a great tool to achieve focus. Once you have your final film, you can use it as a calling card. Share it with those you’d like to work with in the future, and submit it to competitions and festivals. Creating a short film is a brilliant way to get started in the film industry.
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