'Making' it in the film business has always been tough; productions are expensive, jobs are competitive. Add the double-dip recession, severe cuts in Arts funding and the disbanding of the Film Council in 2010, and working in moving pictures has become virtually impossible for many aspiring filmmakers.
Celebrated photographer Rankin has pioneered Collabor8te, in association with Nokia, to fill the gap in nurturing talent in the British film industry. Investing personal funds in 2011, Rankin Film Productions partnered with production company The Bureau and Dazed & Confused to launch the scheme, now in its second year.
Tuesday night saw the premiere of six of this year's short films at The Regent Street Cinema, best know as the birthplace of British cinema, where in 1896 the Lumiere brothers’ new Cinematographe was showcased to a paying audience for the first time.
Selected out of 1,300 sumbitted scripts, the six screened films were produced by seasoned professionals working alongside new writers and fresh acting talent.
Casting Director Amy Hubbard (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit) provided her expertise and Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean) lent his voice to the lead character of The Hungry Corpse (written by James Pout, directed by Gorgely Wootsh), a Tim Burton-esque animation, featuring a lonely corpse wandering the streets of London and striking up an unlikely freindship with an affable pigeon.
Collbor8te's other five films tackled a range of issues, from the comedic to the deeply dark. The Gas Man (written and directed by Matt Palmer) saw a simplistic 90s slasher horror, achieving plenty of suspense, but little else.
Twinkle Twinkle (written and directed by Deborah Haywood), stars the youngest actors of the premiere, showing two six-year-old girls playing 'mummy and daddy', an innocent enough game, until it becomes clear that their family life is a world of dysfunction and tragedy. Shot in vivd candy floss colours, Twinkle Twinkle cleverly reveals trauma, then transforms it into a touching testament to the resilience of children, all in a mere ten minutes.
Irreversible (written and directed by Lewis Metcalfe) explores the power of the conscience, told in an intriuguing narrative sequence with a subtle moralistic message.
Liar (written by Rory Alexander Stewart, directed by Martin Smith) inexplicably carries subtitles to 'translate' the strong Scottish accents of its actors. In a portrait of bereavement, we see two young brothers' grief over losing their father. Liar ponders to the point of lagging, until a touching closing scene brings the short film together.
Stew & Punch (written and directed by Simon Ellis) is most successful at exploiting the short film form. Within just three rooms of a small flat, we are given a fly-on-the wall view of a couple's house-warming party. Stew & Punch shows the cringing awkwardness of alcohol getting the better of us, a film to be watched peering through your fingers with your hands covering your face - it is embarrassingly familiar to many of us.
Through mere facial expressions and tipsy banter, we see a world of one-upmanship, pride and jealousy. Stew & Punch is genuinely original filmmaking.
Rankin said at the screening: “Collabor8te creates opportunities for new talent to be discovered ... the standard of films that emerged from year one shows how schemes like these help promising grassroots.”
Like the literary short story form, nothing can go to waste in the short film genre; every shot and expression is key to creating a vivid atmosphere and tight narrative.
Collabor8te's funding and support of film in this succint form encourages short, punchy and powerful stories, while spreading itself thinly enough to cover the many aspiring filmmakers who deserve the attention that those established professionals received pre-recession.
Watch a selection of short films from last year's Collabor8te entries: