Why do we make films? I asked this question recently to filmmakers Kerry Skinner and Stewart Alexander and they gave me the most succinct response I could have hoped for… “so that audiences will watch and hopefully enjoy our films”.
The simplicity of their answer smacked me in the face. It’s why I make films. It’s why I create stories. Even when it’s a struggle, even when it’s stressful, even when I question why on earth I’ve embarked on a certain project. Through the stress and doubts, the ultimate goal is to see your film on a big screen. To release control of it and allow others (for better or worse) to devour your labour of love.
It may not be the only reason for filmmaking, (there are a raft of others, not least the creative release of attempting to tell a a story well), yet to have people watch your film is what makes filmmaking magical. As a shared or individual experience, films can bring people together, or indeed pit them at opposite sides of the table.
However for new and independent filmmakers, it’s not always easy to find that audience and certainly beyond festival screenings, short films rarely, if ever get the big screen treatment. So when fellow Filmmaker and collaborator Maj Jukic started to talk about organising a monthly short film night in Streatham, Brian and I threw our hats in to the ring to help him bring his concept to life. From Maj's initial musings, CineShots was born and launched on February 12th at the Streatham Space Project. The aim is simple; to host an evening once a month showcasing a selection of shorts from London filmmakers, with a Q&A session followed by drinks in the bar.
Filmmakers and film lovers alike came together for the first CineShots evening to watch and chat about a brilliantly eclectic bag of films. We had animation, dark humour, documentary, comedy and dance. It was a chance to explore the stories that people are passionate about and the different ways in which they choose to tell their tales.
We had beautiful animation in the form of Inanimate, (third prize at the Cannes Festival Cinéfondation) which used stop motion to explore the fragility of the world surrounding central character Katrine. As the world bends and shifts around her, be prepared to question your own existence and sense of purpose.
Documentary ‘Rose’ gave us a touching glimpse in to the life of the Director's grandmother, who having just turned 93 years old, reflects on her past and future. With a fly on the wall feel, the film touched a reality that we don’t often see on screen.
We were also well served on the comedy front with ‘Couples Therapy', a snappy piece delving in to the world of relationships and therapists and ‘Last Dates’ which cleverly spun the first date concept on its head with multiple disastrous (and hilarious) strands.
'Cake’ took us down a darker comic route, presenting a stark black and white landscape with two women seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere. The only thing they possess between them; a gun. Starring BAFTA nominated Maxine Peake and BAFTA Rising Star Letitia Wright, it was a simple concept executed brilliantly.
Finally, rounding out Cineshots first evening was ‘Release’, a stunningly and entrancing visual dance film that was part of the official selection of last years Aesthetica Short Film Festival.
With the diversity of the films on offer, the common ground between the filmmakers was that they had all produced something they could be proud of. That’s the sort of moment I think we all crave, right? Pride. Whether it’s feeling proud of a film, a book, a painting, a photograph, a personal project, a good day at work or nurturing an important relationship. As creatures we are here to create and share, in whatever form we choose. Everyone has the ability to create and perhaps does so without even consciously realising it. In the same way that Try the Other Guy exists to share great discoveries, spark discussion and celebrate creative achievements, CineShots is carving its own little niche in South London for filmmakers and audiences alike. Come and join us to celebrate great shorts and try the local beer in the Space Project bar (tell your friends in North, East and West London too).
If you’re a London based Filmmaker with a short completed in the last twelve months, you can submit your film via Film Freeway. Hope to see you (and your film) filling the screen next time.
Films from CineShots February:
Release Directed by James Phillips
Rose Directed by Edwin Miles
Cake Directed by Alan Friel / Written by Andreas Hadjivassiliou
Inanimate Directed by Lucia Bulgheroni / Written by & Lucia Bulgheroni & Drew Eu
Couples Therapy Directed and Written by Tatjana Anders
Last Dates Directed by Ben Mallaby / Written by Luke McQueen & Rachel Stubbings
Head to the CineShots website
Venue: Streatham Space Project , Sternhold Avenue, London, SW2 4PA