Category Archives: Short film

Oxford International Short Film Festival

Well, I promised a big announcement today, I suspect the title gives it away! After spending most of last year as filmmakers on the film festival circuit, we’ve decided we should now have a go at organising one! To be fair, we’ve already done this on a smaller scale (we just weren’t aware this was essentially what we were doing!).

The big day will take place on Saturday 23rd March 2019 at St John’s College located in the heart of Oxford’s city centre. Films will be played in the newly refurbished auditorium (recently announced as an Architects Journal Retrofit Finalist). A huge thank you to the College for allowing us to use this beautiful and unique venue!

St John's College auditorium

St John’s College Auditorium. Photo credit: David Fisher

Here is the official blurb from the official website:

‘The inaugural Oxford International Short Film Festival (OXISFF) celebrates the diversity and creativity of short films. OXISFF is located in the heart of the historic university city, on the same road where Inspector Morse, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien famously all enjoyed a tipple, a mere stone’s throw from Hogwarts’ Dining Hall.

We believe short films are an art form which deserve to be experienced in unique and beautiful surroundings, on a large screen with an enthusiastic audience. The festival will be held in the beautiful grounds of St John’s College at The University of Oxford in the College’s newly refurbished auditorium. Films will be shown throughout the day, during the evening there will be an awards ceremony before we retire to the College bar.

We are looking for great fictional stories which stir the emotions, have strong characters, and unique voices or evocative worlds. The awards will be judged by a panel of local filmmakers prior to the event across a range of categories. All eligible film submissions will be considered for the Best Short Film award. Submissions can also be entered into 17 additional categories. Film Submissions should be made on FilmFreeway.’

St John's College Gardens

St John’s College: Library and Gardens

If there are any filmmakers out their reading this blog, then please get in contact – it would be fantastic to be able to consider your latest short film.

For more information visit one of the pages below and please do follow us to keep up to date on the latest festival developments:


Love Thy Neighbour

My latest collaboration with local filmmaker Stanley Mackrell is a short film called “Love Thy Neighbour”. We’ll be shooting over the weekend and I’m really excited to now share some details about the project.

“Love Thy Neighbour” is a thriller set in the flat of a couple (Kelly and Rob). After an altercation upstairs, Michelle bursts into their lives shaking in terror. Dealing with an unprecedented situation Kelly and Rob’s must act fast before the situation escalates. The film will be shot in real time as a continuous take. The film will be a co-production between Midnight Show Productions and Ferny Films.

I’m also pleased to announce the cast:

Melissa DaltonMelissa Dalton/Kelly
Melissa really impressed us in her auditions bringing out a side to Kelly which wasn’t written down on the page. Being a teacher, Kelly is someone who likes to take charge and is used to being the calming influence in stressful situations. Perhaps the biggest mystery is why she still puts up with Rob (it must be her mothering nature). For more information about Melissa visit here or follow her on Twitter.

Louis BernardLouis Bernard/Rob
Louis brings an element of charm and warmth to the seemingly ineffectual Rob. Rob’s is like a contented house-cat. Whilst he isn’t entirely lazy, he is perfectly happy coasting through life and isn’t anywhere near the ‘go-getter’ his partner is. Under pressure, Rob tends to crumble – so thank goodness he is partnered with Kelly. For more information about Louis visit here or follow him on Twitter.

Natalie MartinsNatalie Martins/Michelle
Playing Michelle is Natalie Martins who some of you might recognise as “Emmi” (it’s great to be collaborating once again). After an apparent one night stand gone wrong Michelle finds herself at the door of Kelly and Rob pleading for help. Whatever happened upstairs has made her scared and  unpredictable. For more information about Natalie visit her spotlight page here, her personal website here or follow her on Twitter.

Daniel EpihDaniel Epih/Harv
Playing Harv, the intimidating tenant in the upstairs flat is local Oxford actor Daniel Epih.

To follow how things progress during the production please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

2017 Review

So here we are at the end of 2017, what a year it’s been – not easy but busy at least!

The big achievement this year was finally getting our short film Emmi out there. This has been quite a ride: we have been selected at 28 film festivals, winning best film at two festivals, being finalists at two, being semi-finalist at two more with a further ten or so nominations.

Emmi Poster October 2017

What is particularly nice is that both of our main performers (Amy Harris and Natalie Martins) have both received multiple nominations for their acting (Natalie winning one of hers at the Gold Movie Awards). In particular it’s been interesting visiting film festivals, hearing reactions to the film, meeting lots of interesting people and watching other films along the way. I’ve seen some really good films but one especially stands out: The Silent Child (just found out it has made the Oscar shortlist, truly deserved), if you get the chance to see it is really worth it!

All the jet setting around has been somewhat at the expense of creativity and this is the area I look to rectify in 2018. I look back to find that prior to this month, I’ve only composed four pieces. One of them was was a quick temp score for this:

Over the last week I’ve already equaled my output from the past 11 months. At the bottom of this post is one of these tunes which was composed one afternoon. This tune was inspired by my children and their mixture of excitement, sleeplessness, incessant badgering and sense of wonder in the run up to Christmas. Speaking of family, it’s been quite a tough year all in all. One of the highlights however has been the introduction of this little fella (great to have another boy roaming the house with me).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune below (let me know if you like it) and hope to have more to share over the next year. Wishing all of you the very best for 2018, let’s make this a good one!!

Strange Days

It’s been a surreal week or so!

Emmi has been selected for three more festivals (exciting):

Emmi Award OnirosPerhaps our biggest news is that we won the award for “Best Drama” at the Oniros International Film Awards. We’ve been focusing on getting the film in front of  an audience rather than winning awards, so this came as a genuinely lovely surprise (thanks Oniros)!

We were also thrilled that Oniros recognised Amy Harris’ performance in the film (so both Amy and Natalie Martins have now received nominations for Best Actress!).

We also screened at two festivals.

On Saturday we played at the Women Texas Film Festival which  sadly we were unable to attend (pleased Emmi featured in the “Strong Female Characters” category). If anyone went to this we’d love to hear more about how things went down!

We also played at the London-based New Renaissance Film Festival in Shoreditch two days before on the Thursday. Susie (on holiday) was unable to come but Alex (Emmi’s runner) and Kevin (Emmi’s post-production sound engineer) provided some moral support (thanks guys). In a curious quirk of fate, Adam (Emmi’s production designer) was also having his stag do in Shoreditch during the same weekend as the festival (Alex was acting as “Best Man”). Coming to the screening would allow him a chance to scout the area in advance. After a reasonably smooth journey from Oxford to London we arrived at Liverpool street and walked to the venue taking in a few of the sights along the way.

Shoreditch SkylineShoreditch Artwork

The venue for the screenings was a lovely chilled out cafe/bar/cinema called The Close-Up Cinema– an absolute treasure trove for film aficionados.

Close-Up Cinema

The cinema itself was an intimate place with around 30-40 seats. The screening had around 25-30 members in attendance. Below is a list of films which played during our block (apologies if I missed one, I feel like I’m missing one):

This Swiss film (translation: Emergency) started the block off with a bang. Set in an emergency call-centre, a misunderstanding leads to an unexpected result. Short and snappy – I really liked it! For more details and the film’s trailer, visit here.

The Immaculate Misconception
Sinead is underage, pregnant and a virgin who lives with her grandparents (stick with this!). Her grandmother, a pious Catholic and the matriarch of the dysfunctional O’Reilly family, will stop at nothing to get the birth proclaimed immaculate. At 25 minutes this was the longest film of the session but the film flew by. It deftly balances drama with light-hearted moments and features exceptional performances from Orliath Feenan, Niall Cusack and Helena Bereen as the O’Reilly family. Michael Geoghegan’s film was originally intended as a feature film but sadly the film’s co-writer Simon Riley died before this could be realised. The film is dedicated to Simon and it seems a very fitting tribute indeed. For more information, read Michael’s Interview.

Others Like You (ALTRE)

Ester is a woman who has a strong longing to get pregnant. Following a surgical procedure by Greta – her family doctor and long-standing friend – she is diagnosed as sterile. Ester’s original desire thus becomes a growing obsession, and she embarks on a series of one-night stands hoping for a miracle. After a casual encounter, she shows early signs of a pregnancy and a positive test result restores her hope of becoming a mother. When Greta, herself barren, learns of Ester’s pregnancy, events take an unexpected turn. This Italian film contained some stunning cinematography and a wonderful atmosphere, although I must confess the story wasn’t always the easiest to follow (although it is memorable). Kevin particularly liked this one because he knew some of the locations where it was filmed.


It was clear that a theme was emerging, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to find that Emmi was next in line! Shameless trailer plug:

98 Street Playland
Reeka, a recovering drug user, seeks out her ex-boyfriend in order to save his life and their relationship. Much like Emmi in our film, Reeka isn’t a character who elicits too much sympathy (despite trying hard to escape the circumstances she finds herself in). The performances in the film are good across the board, in particularly Daniella Alma as Reeka. I do recall thinking that the look of this short film felt like a David Fincher movie and there was some excellent and evocative use of colour grading. By the end I found myself strangely detached from the story and the ending beach shot was particular jarring (no doubt the intention).


At the end of the films Michael Geoghegan and I did a short Q&A. I can’t honestly remember much of what I said (hopefully I didn’t come over too nervous/dull). I did hear a few audience members talking about Emmi afterwards which was lovely. After a quick drink at the bar Kevin and I went in to watch the next block of films and Alex went off on his Stag-do recce. The films played during the next block were:


William Stack is a former child actor who went off the rails just prior to his teenage years. After a shocking fall from grace and now an adult he is attempting a comeback. However before he can do this he will need to face the demons of his past. This was in many ways was the “Hollywood” entry in the bunch. It features Whoopie Goldberg and was executive-produced by James Franco. Glossy, very well produced if a little predictable in story terms.

One in a Million

Kevin is an orphan and autistic teenager living in the South East. Kevin obsesses about becoming a millionaire and escaping the shackles of his seaside hometown. This was the most emotional film I watched at the festival (I live with an autistic family). The film is impeccably shot in black and white, I recall the opening scenes being particularly atmospheric. The greatest asset of the film is Eddie Chamberlain as the protagonist Kevin (a real standout – glad I got to opportunity to chat with him during the festival). Christopher Laws is also extremely effective in his scenes as Kevin’s odious and bullying foster-brother Leo. The only real criticism I can throw at the film is whilst the other supporting roles are well-played, they seem less developed – as a result they don’t always ring true (Charly’s sudden attraction to Kevin and the utter naivety of the foster mum spring to mind as examples – but perhaps these aspects were lost in the editing process). With that aside, this was stirring stuff and director Patrick Ireland is definitely a talent to watch out for in the future. To find out more watch an interview with Patrick here.

Seeing Him

When Sophie and her younger lover James find their relationship being challenged they are forced to confront a truth they have both been hiding from. I must confess I was curious to see this being as it was made by Chris Jones (whose masterclass I attended a few years back). As expected this was polished with a strong performance from Vanessa Bailey as Sophie. Vanessa also wrote the screenplay, so I hope we will get to see her step behind the camera and direct at some point in the future!

Food First

Food first, then morals! A comedy about two couples in a stylish Berlin Tapas restaurant. The initial light conversation starts to intensify and tension increases as each dish is served. Many of the films shown thus far had a serious tone, so this was a welcome change (and the most entertaining film I watched). The performances were great, for me the real gem was listening to the off-screen chefs gossiping about the couples to shots of “food porn” which wouldn’t be out-of-place in an advert for M&S. The good news is that you can watch the film online here:

This animation is based on a Turkish legend: Mankurt is a mindless slave who has had his memory erased after being tortured. This profound animation had clear parallels with events currently happening in the world and served as director Ermina Takenova’s graduation project. The project took her eight months to make.

I Just Disappeared Into You

This music video was directed and performed by Roxana Vilk. It was shot in Scotland and Iran, the dance/film explores our relationship to nature and the nature of movement. In Iran dancing for women is banned, so the video explores contrasts the movements of dancer/choreographer Skye Reynolds, with the movements of an anonymous actress in Iran. Sections of the dance/film are also made up of thousands of still images woven together, exploring new ways capturing elements of the choreography and the ‘energy’ of the dance. The video was hypnotic and it somewhat reminded me of Goldfrapp (albeit more mellow and jazz inspired) – really liked the track also! To find out more read the festival interview with Roxana.


Sisak is set in a bustling Mumbai local train, where a romance develops between two men who are poles apart. This Indian film addresses the fact that homosexuality is still a big taboo in the country and it conveys the story without a single line of dialogue (no mean feat). Whilst I think the film might have benefited from a slightly shorter run-time (20 minutes), I think it conveys an important message to the outside world who are probably largely ignorant. The film has been touted as India’s first LGBTQ film (Sisak is an Urdu word, which refers to “the sob that’s stuck in the throat”).

Even though I only attended two of the blocks, this was an absolutely fantastic experience. In hindsight one thing became apparent: our film clearly had a far smaller budget than the other films shown, most of which were shot on high-end cameras such as the Arri Alexa. It made me feel happy to think we could punch our weight alongside films with significantly higher production values (hopefully a testament to the story and performances in Emmi).

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the other festival days. It was time to swap the film festival experience for an entirely different set of festivities which included zorb football, table-tennis bars, pizza restaurants and culminated in a 90’s theme night. Can’t say I achieved much sleep on Saturday but after a spot of Sunday brunch I was feeling slightly re-energized. This was just as well as it was the festival awards ceremony during the afternoon and I was going with Susie (now back from her hols) and Alex (who probably needed a break after all the organising).

Emmi was nominated for three awards: Best Social Realism Film, Best Story and Best Actress (Natalie). Realistically I wasn’t expecting us to walk away with any of these awards  – it’s just lovely to be considered as a nominee and it would be a great opportunity to hob-nob with other filmmakers and have fun!

We were greeted by afternoon tea and prosecco. During this time I chatted with a music video maker from Birmingham called Andy Rutter (watch his winning Ultrasound video here), bumped into to Michael Geoghegan again and went over to speak with Chris Jones, Vanessa Bailey and her partner. It was quite surreal chatting with Chris who is the person who coached me with the majority of my film-making skills (and it helped to reaffirm how far I have come over the past couple of years).

After the reception we entered the cinema for the main awards ceremony which was hosted by actress Fleur Keith. The full list of nominees and winners are available here. Whilst we didn’t win any of our nominations (as predicted), we were awarded an “honorable mention”.

After this ceremony we retired for a couple of photos and drinks.

Emmi - Susie, Andy, Jan and Massimo Emmi Honourable mention award

Just before leaving the ceremony host Fleur came across to congratulate us on Emmi, it turns out she was one of the audience members attending the screening (thanks Fleur, really appreciated!). I was now caught somewhere between pure adrenaline and complete exhaustion, time for us to head back to Oxford. A huge thank-you to both Jan + Massimo who made us feel so welcome at the festival, we hope to return soon with a future project!

Female Director (Cardiff Mini Film Festival)

Following on from “Fiction Part 2”, here are the films from the Female Director session at The Cardiff Mini Film Festival. I was particularly looking forward to this session being as we really need more female voices in the film world and thankfully the ones showcased here certainly didn’t disappoint! This along with ‘Fiction Part 4’ were my favourite parts of the festival. Please note that any opinions expressed are based off my initial impressions during the screening itself.

01. Ransom
RansomKitty and Kent are in over their heads with gambling debt so they form a plan: kidnap a rich kid and score big time. This US film starts out as a thriller but by the end has evolved into something more preposterous. Whilst this wasn’t a favourite during this session, it’s a breezy five minutes and the film doesn’t outstay its welcome. Film IMDB page.

02.Pillow Talk
Pillow TalkA coming of age film about teenage sexuality with best friends Cara and Lucy on the brink of going separate ways. A vibrant hipster opening gives way to sweet “coming out” film which is well directed by Louise Marie Cooke. If I were to criticise I found the dialogue at the start a little unauthentic, the performers seemed a older than the ages of the characters that they were portraying (not that this mattered once the film hit it stride).

03. Sophia
SophiaThe imaginative Sophia is waiting for her bus to arrive on a bench. Whilst waiting we see her imagination turning everyday events and unfortunate situations into something more entertaining (despite how inappropriate this makes her look). This was a charming Norwegian short directed by Marietha Chopra Helgesen, with simple but well executed concept. My only wish would be for a slightly stronger ending (although maybe I missed something here whilst I was scribbling down my notes). Liked this one a lot!

04. Passing Over
Passing OverA mother struggling to move on after a family tragedy seeks a medium to help her overcome the loss. On a technical viewpoint, it’s hard to fault Natasha Dahlberg’s film. It contains strong performances, some fantastic sound design and is able to convey a sense of isolation, grief and haunting strangeness. However I ultimately found it a little predictable and found myself becoming less engaged once “the medium” part was introduced into the story. Whilst I felt there were a couple of stronger contenders during this session, this went on to win the best international Female Film  so well done to Natasha and her team!

05. Almost Perfect
Almost PerfectHelen is an undertaker who advertises for a  make up assistant for her “clients”. When the interview with applicant Stella gets off to a bumpy start, the film can go one of two ways: is she actually looking for a make up assistant or there something more sinister at work? This won the audience choice award (indeed there were quite a few team members at the session). There is a very Gothic feel to the whole piece thanks to some inventive camera angles, red colour grading with Helen in particular having a vampiric quality. I was hoping the film would end with a different twist, but you can decide yourself by watching the film below:

06. Archway 0173
Archway 0173An antique collecting mother brings home an old phone which her son Tom initially dismisses as “more junk”. However when the broken phone rings one day it connects Tom with a young girl called Isabelle who claims to be from 1940. Becoming friends after sharing conversations, Tom soon makes a frightening discovery which he needs to warn Isabelle about. Can he warn her in time and what will be the consequences of his actions? At around 20 minutes, Pat Knight’s film was the longest film of the session, but it was also one of my favourites. It’s well made and has a strong but simple concept with a nicely handled relationship between Tom and Isabelle.

07. Super Dad!
Super Dad!All Toby wanted was one normal day. This proves to be too much to ask for when your dad is Captain Chaos, the super villain of Milwaukee! Maria Pretzl’s comedy is for the most part a father/son relationship with Toby coming to terms with his dad’s disasterous wedding faux-pas. A fun film with a lovely moment of “realisation” at the end.

08. The Girl In The Photo
The -Girl In The PhotoCharlie, an introverted but curious guy, is troubled by a mysterious girl seen in his dream, even after waking up. This was a short film by Alise Ambaine who appeared to be the youngest filmmaker I saw in attendance at the festival. The film was quite short but had an unnerving and suspenseful vibe. I look forward to following Alise’s future projects.

09. The Chameleon
The ChameleonThe story of a struggling Hollywood actor who is cornered by the industry’s shadow at every turn. Our “Chameleon” desperately seeks to distance himself from typecasting thank to his popular turn as “the guy on the Gusto energy drink ad”, the vapid parties, the lies he’s told to try to “make it big” and ultimately Los Angeles itself. Can he make it and will he ever know who he truly is? My favourite part of Stephanie Phoutrides’s film is when all the alter-egos gang up on our Chameleon. Clearly this film had a larger budget than most during this session, but it was fun despite the rather abrupt/odd ending.

10. Belle
BelleAfter her parents divorce due to her mother’s alcoholism, Belle’s life is turned upside down. Struggling, Belle is often forced to assume the role of the grown up with only her teddy bear to support her. One fateful evening during Christmas the situation spirals out of control with heartbreaking results. We see life through Belle’s innocent eyes making it all the more powerful. Out of all the films I watched during the festival, Belle is the nearest companion to our film Emmi (although the innocent 7 year old ‘Belle’ is a far more accessible character than our difficult and troubled teenager ‘Emmi’). Another similarity is that both are based on true stories! Diana Skarbek gives an absolutely stellar performance as Belle. The only real gripe I have is that the alcoholic mother didn’t seem quite as convincing as Belle or her father. This was my favourite film of the session (and indeed the whole festival), so I was pleased to learn Evey Swayland won the best Welsh Female Director for this film (and arguably she should have also won best film also). The film is available below and I definitely recommend giving it a watch:

Fiction Part 2 (Cardiff Film Festival)

Following on from the previous post, here are the films which played alongside ‘Emmi’ in the Fiction Part 2 session at The Cardiff Mini Film Festival. Please note that any opinions expressed are based off my initial impressions during the screening itself.

01. The Picture on the Fridge
The Picture On The FridgeLonging to reconnect with his deceased mother, Ilan mysteriously jumps into a photograph that soon forces him to choose between his past and his reality. This all ends up a bit like Inception with photos levels rather than dream levels. The special effects are fun, even if they aren’t entirely convincing. This doesn’t matter being as the human story is what draws you in to Dekel Aizen’s film. I particularly enjoyed the film’s observation of technology evolving over different generations (analogue vs digital), a nice film to start with.

02. Ghosts of Burgundy Grove
The Ghosts of Burgundy GroveBased on a true story: Maggie discusses her future with George and worries that they have very little time together left. George however is not willing to discuss the future. There is a rumbling to suggest something is clearly wrong right from the very opening of Ciaran J. Hodgman’s film. Every time the seemingly distant Maggie takes another sip from her cup we see a startling flashback to an earlier point in their lives. Whilst the film wasn’t the most polished and the outcome predictable – it held my attention throughout. IMDB page here.

03. Me And My Thoughts
Me And My ThoughtsThis fictional short film portrays a modern woman who masks her mental health problems whilst striving to look normal and fit in. Whilst I found the film’s subject matter worthy material, the repetitive OCD elements in the first half had a tendency to drag the film down. Things improve in the second half (once the central character’s monologues begin to subside and the drama plays out). If I recall correctly, the director Martin Devek also performed many of the other key roles making this film. He is talented and this is commendable but I can’t help but feel that the production would have benefited with an independent editor helping to simmer the story down to its essence. The main performance in this short film deserves to be singled out for praise (sadly I didn’t catch her name and can’t find it online).

04. Wet Dream

Wet DreamStan is sick to the back teeth with the daily grind of his monotonous city lifestyle. Surreal daydreams punctuate his working week as he pines for the sea. One weekend on the rugged Cornish coast he has a magical encounter and an epic journey ensues… Apparently according to director Joel Duddell this includes “a magical adventure along the Cornish coast with the ghost of an 18th century smuggler”. I must have missed this bit and to be perfectly honest I didn’t really follow this seemingly experimental film. After an intriguing opening, I found myself getting a bit frustrated and was hoping it was the Goldfish dreaming rather than Stan! On the plus side the film sets a curious ambient tone and was good at conveying the mundane nature of day to day life. You can form your own opinions by watching the film here:

05. The Blind Man
The Blind ManA blind man wanders the street completely oblivious to all the disasters happening around him. This one was extremely daft in a fun way and wisely never overstayed its welcome (being only two and half minutes). I question whether the titular character is also deaf – but considering the completely random ending of the film – I’m definitely over analysing things!

06. Pesadilla
PesadillaThis was another of the more experimental films on show. Despite enjoying a romantic moment, we can see the man starting to become troubled. The tone then shifts to what I remember thinking at the time was a surreal Dario Argento inspired nightmare. And sure enough this seemed exactly what director Guillermo González Lanchares was going for – we later learned that Pesadilla means nightmare in Spanish. To watch the full film, visit here.

07. The Consequence of Reliving
The Consequence Of RelivingAfter discovering he has a special ability, a young man must make the most difficult decision of his life. This was one of my favourites of the session, well made, wonderful cast and some intriguing ideas. I don’t want to give too much more away about it, but if there is a fault with the film – it is that it tries to pack a few too many concepts in during it’s fairly brief 15 minutes run-time. This doesn’t make it any less captivating, so well done to director/writer Christien Bart-Gittens and co-director by Grace Smith.

08. Fortress

FortressSet in 1969, a Pirate Radio DJ seeks to defy the British Government by turning his radio station (located in international waters) into his own Kingdom. James Grimley’s film ultimately won an award for best Welsh Fiction Film at the festival and it’s not difficult to see why. From the technical viewpoint it is beautifully produced with wonderful production design and some nice performances (particular shout out to Scarlett Marshall as the feisty Layla). This was shot on Arri Alexa, so it clearly had a larger budget than most of the other films being show during this session. For the most part, this was an intriguing story but the message “a man’s home is his castle” does become a bit tedious after a bit (the subtext of “letting go” being a more interesting area to mine). I had to concur after some deliberation with other audience members that the ending needed to be a bit stronger, but this aside from this it was the most “polished” film of the session.

09. Jerky

JerkyGordon struggles to pick up the pieces of his life after the death of his husband Martin. The biggest obstacle in his healing: Martin’s dog Jerky, whom Gordon never appreciated. The film is a stark and intimate portrait of the grieving process. The pivotal moment comes when the dog chews through Martin’s towelling robe one day and it’s not clear whether things are going to end well or badly for poor Jerky. The story was excellent and I’d say that this was my favourite film of the session (ignoring any obvious bias we have for the next film). IMDB page here.

10. Emmi

Emmi Last, but hopefully not least, we were on! Despite a reasonably small audience turn out (around 10 people), it was nice to learn that the audience (except for the Festival team, Susie and myself) were all genuine audience members rather than filmmakers coming to see their film (you can sense my conflict in writing that)! I was happy that the film worked from a technical viewpoint. The session host Matt let us chat a little about the film afterwards. Susie was approached by one of the audience members afterwards to say that the film had made her cry. This meant a tremendous deal to us, although I somewhat flippantly quipped that perhaps Jerky might have been a better film to end on.

Real Stories at Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema

We experienced some success last weekend when Emmi was selected by two film festivals (one in Belgium, one in London). Whilst browsing festivals over Easter, I spotted something called ‘Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema’ in London looking for ‘real stories’ to shown. Being as Emmi is inspired by a real story we decided we should give it a go – I’m glad we did!

Susie and I set off to London for the event (wrestling rush hour traffic, underground cancellations, problematic ticket barriers – arriving with 5 minutes to spare). When we arrived we were greeted by Ashley Jackson the festival organiser. There were seven films in the line-up (we were programmed to be the last film before the interval).

Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema postcard

The quality of the films shown were great, it’s nice to think that our rather personal little film might be considered alongside some of these. Let’s go over them one by one:

Grandmas Big Schlep:
Hannah finds out that Grandma wasn’t actually Jewish and can’t be buried next to Grandpa as planned. She must go on her journey with her sister Rivkah to make things right before it’s too late.

Although this was the longest film of the evening (20 minutes), it was also the most uplifting. The time bristled by and there was a lovely warmth and humour to the film. Both of the girls put in great performances and the whole thing had a polished and lavish feel. Nice to see it was made by a female team also.


An Experimental drama about a young homeless woman who spends her days chasing a feeling.

From the longest film shown to the shortest, I found this particularly interesting to contrast against our homeless short film “Spare Change”. A couple of minor details were lacking authenticity (indeed the same is true of Spare Change), but I liked the overall message of the film. It was also interesting that it was shot in “Portrait” rather than traditional Widescreen which helped give the “Girl” a sense of isolation and a different perspective.


Marcus, a boy on the brink of adulthood struggles to decide where his loyalties lie.

In some ways this gritty drama was a little similar in tone to our film, although the canvas felt slightly larger and the end result is more cinematic. There are two great performances in this short: the antagonist Dan (suitably loathsome) and the downs syndrome character Mary (who is the true standout of the film). Extremely well made and at a couple of points an excruciating, a testament to its power. I’d say this was my favourite film during the evening and again nice to a female team at the helm.


Keeping with the darker theme, we were next. We were pleased about being just before the interval as it gave us an opportunity to invite feedback. It was also a good opportunity to see the film on a different system (note to self: dial down the sound mix for future screenings). It was amusing to hear one audience member humming Emmi’s main theme at the end of the film.


Kitty’s Fortune
Based on Kitt Hart-Moxon’s first night in Auschwitz when Kitty encounters a palm-reading Gypsy who hones in on her lifeline. The film is a glimpse into a touching encounter between two people amidst the brutality of their surroundings.

On a technical level this was by far the most polished of the films shown, it was beautifully filmed. Yet despite the haunting performances/worthy subject matter, something didn’t quite click (not just me – Susie thought the same). We found the atmosphere in the first half extremely moving and well paced with a palpable sense of dread. This isn’t sustained after the initial gypsy encounter and the film felt like it needed a stronger ending. That said, this is still an impressive film, especially in terms of what was achieved for the budget.


A Six and Two Threes:
Two kids from different sides of the tracks meet when one goes in search of their father.

Again there was some very impressive cinematography in this piece. Some of the dialogue in the film was difficult to hear, but what I really liked was the authenticity of the film. The performers felt genuine and were around the right age. The two main performances were nicely handled and the younger kid in particular is a hoot. The language was also very crude, I was thinking Emmi would easily win the swear count until this film’s colourful language took things to the next level! Very well done and strangely touching.

At this point we had to leave to get back, but during the interval we caught up with the Writer/Producer (Ellie Gocher) and Director (Jimmy Dean) of the final film ‘Offside’. We spoke a bit about finding funding and what they had planned as their next project. They also told us that the film was online (so I’ll share it below).



Offside tells the story of 11 year old Kirsty who struggles to accept her looming femininity as she learns she will soon lose her position on the local boys football team.

Having now seen the film, I’d say that the film was slower paced than many of the other films shown during the evening, but the pacing was deliberate and the story works on multiple levels. The central performances felt genuine and authentic and it particularly resonated being as I’m father to a 10 year old daughter who also currently enjoys playing football. Of course being as the film is shared online you can make your own mind up!

The programme for evening can be downloaded here.

This was a great evening and I’d like to extend my thanks to Lo-No for selecting our film and making us feel welcome. We hope to return for the next project!