Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

(AKA. 'Sophie's Lengthy Review of the Year!)

The Dress was one of 2015's highlights - even if we didn't get the bathtub clean until December!

   It's mad to think that another year is upon us. I feel as though I've only just got used to writing '2015' rather than '2014', and 2016 sounds like a year for a sci-fi film to be set in! And yet, here it is: 2016. What will it have in store for us all, around the world?

   Well, for starters, it has a lot to live up to, for me. Looking back, 2015 doesn't feel like a particularly memorable year in my life, because I didn't move house, I didn't change career, and I didn't produce or direct any large film projects. 

   But actually, when you analyse it in terms of my vocational activity, 2015 has actually been my successful year to date. 2015 was, and always will be, the year of the first awards!! On a personal level, it's also the year my beautiful little niece was born, and the year I saw the indescribable Fleetwood Mac perform live.

   Here's the main, key points I'll take away from a relatively quiet but important year:

Old Projects Were Laid to Rest

Myself, Neil Oseman & Tommy Draper supporting Stop/Eject at The Short Cinema, Summer 2015.

  2015 was the year that both Ashes and Stop/Eject came out of their festival run, and were released online. After struggling with both films in terms of festival acceptances, they both suddenly took off, with Beeston Film Festival (which screened Ashes) right at the start of the year, then Fargo Fantastic Film Festival, Underground Short Film Festival, Worcestershire Film Festival and Southampton Film Festival for Stop/Eject, Festigious Film Festival for Ashes, and The Short Cinema for both films.

Editor Theo Leeds, finishing Night Owls
  Both films were shown at local film nights such as Short Stack, Birmingham Future Short Film Night, Five Lamps Films and Roots to Shoots, and Stop/Eject even had a brief cinema release, screening ahead of Back to the Future, Superbob and Brief Encounter at various times at three different cinemas. It also had one television screening, on Cambridge TV. As a biased producer, I still think Stop/Eject should have had more success, but it's done better than many shorts have done, or will do, and cinema releases for shorts are particularly rare.

   You can rent Ashes on Reelhouse (with a percentage of the fee going to a worthy organisation), and you can watch Stop/Eject for free on YouTube or the film's website.

   As well as ending the festival run of two films, I also finally finished the lengthy post-production of another. We finished editing Night Owls, finally, in Summer 2015, and premiered it at a private cast and crew screening at the start of December.

The Competition Entries

Back behind the camera for November's The Chaos & the Calm. Photo by Ian Cudmore.

   As mentioned in previous posts, I have a bit of a reputation for directing one short film every two years. For me, this is because I want to put my all into the production of a film, and I want to be fully attentive to it during its festival run, but it doesn't look very good on the surface, when there's a lot of proactive, talented filmmakers who make time to shoot various films throughout the year.

  It was film competitions that finally forced me to create films a little quicker. I still regret not entering Virgin Media Shorts when it was still going, and I'd wanted to enter the 5Lamps 24hr Film Challenge for a while. It was the latter which prompted me to action, and I directed and edited The Dress back in May, which starred Aislinn de'Ath and reunited me with cinematographer Christopher Newman. After the competition was over, I also re-cut and released an extended version of the film, which screened at Short Stack in August.

  I then discovered the online platform Talenthouse, which gives filmmakers and artists the chance to show their work to big names and labels, through various competitions. Because of this, I shot and edited a concept video for James Bay in less than 48hours, in November (it wasn't a time-constrained competition, I was just last minute). It was actually a lovely little shoot, with a great cast, and it's made a few people I know reconsider the value of SLR cinematography and unpaid projects. It's also the first time I've shot a short film myself since Deep Red Sun, which I made when I was still a student!

   I thought The Chaos and the Calm would be my last competition entry for the year, but I quickly entered another one on Talenthouse over the Christmas period, this time for Hailee Steinfeld. You can watch it here.

The Art Department Work Keeps Coming

On the set of bSquared's Crossing Paths, Summer 2015. Photo by Ben Bloore.

   Although I'm more keen to work on the production side of things these days, I did get a few more costume-and-production design based roles throughout the year. The first was in February, when I was Costume Supervisor for gorey horror short Lab Rats, which was shot over three nights (it was a fun shoot, but I fell asleep constantly, making 2015 probably the last year I'll ever do night shoots!). Between August and September, I was Costume Supervisor on iShorts' Poison Tree, and Costume Designer/Art Director on Crossing Paths, both of which will be released this year. 

  I also spent the tail end of 2015 in pre-production for Superfreak Media's music video project called Melissa, which I'm doing the costume and production design for. That will shoot next week, and be released later in the year as part of Derby Quad's 'Shine A Light' Project.

My First Full Year at Dynomite Productions

   Just a quick note to say that I'm still loving my 'day job' at Dynomite, with work seemingly growing bigger and better all the time. We got a host of new, exciting clients in 2015, I was sent to Hamburg for a job with them in April (only my second time ever travelling somewhere by plane!) and I even got to use some of my art department skills with them in the Summer. 

   We've just moved to a brand new office in Nottingham City Centre, and there's a new website about to be released, so keep your eyes peeled for great new things there.

Nominations, Acclaim and Awards Success!

At the very last minute, Ashes did us proud! Image via Festigious Film Festival.

   Moving on to what really made my 2015. The awards came, for the first time, finally, and they just kept coming! I now have an 'award winning' film studio in Triskelle Pictures.

   It started with The Dress. We came second, which meant that I got a framed certificate - my first 'trophy' for the wall. And I thought it would stop there. But then Stop/Eject won 'Best Drama Short' at Underground Short Film Festival (watch our acceptance video here), and Georgina Sherrington was nominated for 'Lead Actress in a Short' for Stop/Eject at Southampton International Film Festival.

The first of a few awards in 2015!
   And then, in the Autumn, Ashes won an award too, bagging 'Best Thriller Short' at Festigious Film Festival! After everything I'd been through to make that film, and after such a tricky festival run, I really had given up hope of it winning anything. I was delighted.

  But of course, in terms of awards, the absolute highlight of 2015 came right at the start of the year, when we found out that Stop/Eject was in line for a BAFTA! We made it onto the Longlist for 'Best British Short', and right up until the last minute I thought this was a very long list, but it turned out that we were one of only 15 entries. We had a 1 in 3 chance of making it into the official nominations! 

   Of course, we didn't make it that far, and I'll never know exactly how close we came between 15 and 4 places, but wow. Seriously, wow. To produce a film that came so close to a BAFTA is a phenomenal achievement, one I never really expected to happen. And I doubt I'll be able to beat that in 2016 (but I'm going to try...!).

But What's Coming in 2016?

   So what have I got coming up in my mad, creative little world? Well of course, monitoring Night Owls' festival run is the main priority I'm starting 2016 with. Some good reviews have already come in, and we've had an early surge of good look on the festival front, starting with our first acceptance: in Autumn, I found out that we'd got into none other than London Short Film Festival, with the screening on the 10th January. That's definitely a fine start to the year, and I'm looking forward to my early London visit. Even if we don't get into any more festivals, we've still got one fantastic laurel for the poster... but yeah, I'm going to be trying very hard to get into more than one festival!!

We start 2016 with a festival screening for Night Owls - January's LSFF!
  I haven't taken too many bookings for 2016 so far. I'm determined to save more time for myself (I know I always say that), but I have had a few interesting offers that I'm considering. I hope that more music video work comes along, and I'd love to go to Cannes again, if the finances allow. At the moment, that doesn't look too likely, but we'll see.

   After our enjoyable collaboration on The Dress, I'm planning on working with actor Aislinn de'Ath again. But, in true annoying fashion, I can't say what we'll be working on! It's all very hush, hush at the moment.

   But there is one thing I can reveal about 2016. Towards the end of last year, myself and my Triskelle Pictures team had another bit of good news: after years of applying, we're through to the second round of this year's iShorts!! Now, this by no means ensures we'll get funding, but we have a meeting to attend at Creative England's Manchester branch in a few days, which I'm very excited about.

   The project is called Songbird, written by my frequent collaborator Tommy Draper. It's the first full-fantasy film I've been attached to as a director, which excites me immensely. Even if we don't get the iShorts funding, we're still keen to bring it to the screen if we can, so keep your eye on the Triskelle Pictures Facebook page for updates when we have them.

   In closing, thankyou all - all my readers, followers, supporters, fellow filmmakers, friends and family; everyone who's supported my film work, and my life, over the last through years. I hope you'll stick by me and enjoy what I have to offer you in 2016.



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