Daniel Chisholm won big at last year’s DepicT! ’14 competition, taking home two awards for his short film Nati, which is set in Italy. We last caught up with Daniel in January and heard about how filming was going for the feature length version of his winning short.
In this instalment, Daniel reports back on the Berlinale Film Festival and talks us through the new short film he’s making for this year’s Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival.
Watch Daniel’s charming winning film Nati
February and March have been busy! A new short I hope to submit to Encounters ’15 is in the final editing stages, almost ready for sound and grade; the edit of the feature is continuing apace; my new and improved showreel and website are up and running; and in between I managed to watch about 30-odd films and attend various networking events at the Berlinale Film Festival… phew!
My biggest takeaway from the Berlinale (apart from watching lots of inspiring films) was a renewed enthusiasm for attending festivals and the opportunities they present – there really is no better way to get your work out there and meet great people and potential collaborators. That’s why I’m so keen to attend Encounters 2015 and why I would recommend to anyone interested in filmmaking to submit for DepicT! and / or Encounters this year – it is such a great festival with a brilliant vibe and last year I came away feeling refreshed and in love with film again.
Unsurprisingly, the short I’m working on for Encounters this year is also about farmers in Italy – this time it focusses on the ‘raccolta’: the olive harvest. It features two brilliant characters: Augusto and Vanda, who are olive farmers and friends of Nati’s. They are wonderful people, who have witnessed a lot of change in their time, and who have gone through a lot of hardship, but who can still laugh about it all and evidently manage to enjoy life, no matter what it throws at them. If you’re thinking of submitting to either DepicT! or Encounters, I’d highly recommend you find yourself characters like these guys and let them do the talking – I personally find there’s nothing as gripping in a film as a good character, be it fictional or real.
Augusto and Vanda will of course feature in the full-length film I am working on, alongside Nati and a host of other charismatic farmers. I am planning to shoot some pickups in the summer, but until then I want to really have a good crack at the edit and get something on the timeline that feels like a feature film.
I am now booked on a course at the NFTS in June entitled “Financing Your Feature Film” (one of the prizes that I won at DepicT! last year) and I can’t wait to attend! It promises to be a very useful course and I will definitely report back once I’ve been.
Anyway, I need to get back to my edit in order to hit the submission deadline for Encounters…
Until next time, and good luck to all of you who are submitting!
We are back for our nineteenth year of DepicT!, Watershed’s ultra short film competition that asks filmmakers from around the world to create an original short film under 90 seconds long.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a big budget or a teeny tiny one; whether you specialise in live action, animation or documentary; whether you live for horror, comedy or romance; or hail from Japan, Brazil or Holland – as long as your film is less than a minute and a half long, you can submit your short film to this year’s competition for free!
We’re interested in seeing as many original, imaginative and engaging films as possible and giving the best of these works and the talent involved the exposure they deserve via the DepicT! competition, showcase and networks.
If your film makes our DepicT! 2015 shortlist, you’ll be invited to showcase your film at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival (15 – 20 Sept), the UK’s longest running competitive short film and animation festival. Distributors, producers, funders, exhibitors, other filmmakers, and enthusiastic fans of the short film format – not to mention the stellar judges – will all be there, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get some priceless exposure and industry experience. Not to mention that you also be in with a chance of winning up to £2500 prize money, and other exclusive prizes, such as invaluable talent development courses to help you get to the next stage of your career.
“Much has changed in the worlds of short and animated film-making in the past 20 years – digital has transformed the industry, short-film debutants have become major directors – but this festival has remained Britain’s premier destination for both.”
Steve Rose, The Guardian on Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival 2014
Previous DepicT! winners have had their work screened at international film festivals, been picked up by commercial distributors, carved themselves successful careers in the film industry and beyond.
Daniel Chisholm who won both the DepicT! Special Mention and DepicT! Shooting People Award at last year’s ceremony with spirited short Nati, is now back in Italy making a feature length version of his winning piece. You can read more about his journey here.
Ninian Doff of DepicT! 2013 fame – who scooped both the Main DepicT! Award and The Shooting People RPS Audience Award with comedic gem Cool Unicorn Bruv – has gone on to make impressive music videos for the likes of Kasabian.
Ninian said of DepicT!:
DepicT! is the perfect creative challenge. 90 seconds to do your best means its not some daunting shoot but a manageable task that forces your screen writing and editing skills to be super sharp. DepicT! is also a really good platform – a lot of people pay attention to it and just making the final screening at Encounters is a prestigious achievement. The fact that DepicT! is a competition which genuinely anyone can win, whilst also being a serious, professional filmmaking award, means it is pretty unique and well worth entering.
Sound like your kind of challenge? As long as your film is under 90 seconds or less, you can enter your film to DepicT! – it is always totally free to enter your movie and this year you can submit your movie using either Vimeo or YouTube, making it easier than ever to get your work to us!
So pack your tiny film with masses of creativity and send it to us – good luck!
Get double the exposure for your short film! This year any films under 90 seconds or less submitted to Encounters get automatically entered into this year’s DepicT! competition. So if you fancy double the chance of winning, enter your shorts via the Encounters website here.
We’re delighted to announce that we’re teaming up with Encounters Short Film Festival 2015, the UK’s leading short film and animation festival, for this year’s DepicT! ’15 submissions. Yes, any short films under 90 seconds that you submit to Encounters will automatically be entered into DepicT! ’15 so your film gets double the exposure for half the effort! DepicT! prizes include prize money, invaluable industry exposure, and talent development opportunities.
Encounters is one of the world’s leading International Competitions for short film and animation and 2014 marked the festival’s 20th year, when they exhibited over 250 new short films and animated films from around the world, chosen from over 2000 submissions.
The festival is also a gateway to the world’s most prestigious awards: The Oscars®, BAFTAs, European Film Awards and Cartoon d’Or. This year, no less than three Encounters alumni were nominated for Oscars® and one of these talented filmmakers, Daisy Jacobs, went on to win a BAFTA for her innovative short, The Bigger Picture!
If you fancy your chances at 2015’s awards, head over to the Encounters submissions page and enter your mini movie – and remember, any short films under 90 seconds will automatically be submitted to DepicT! ’15 as well. Easy!
Encounters Festival Producer Rich Warren said:
Encounters is thrilled to continue our work with DepicT! for 2015, and develop this dynamic and exciting part of the festival competition with our partner Watershed.
Challenging filmmakers to be creative in 90 seconds and under makes DepicT! a vibrant, exciting and extremely popular addition to the annual festival programme, and contributes to Encounter’s reputation as the UK’s leading talent development festival. DepicT! gives new and emerging filmmakers a really accessible route into the festival, and we can’t wait to start watching the entries this year!
You’ve got until 31 March to submit films made in 2014 to Encounters, and until 5 June for those made in 2015.
Encounters Short Film Festival runs from 15 – 20 Sept 2015 in Bristol, UK and the festival will host the DepicT! ’15 Showcase and Awards Ceremony.
We return to a DepicT! double award-winner to hear about what he’s been up to since his big wins.
In September 2014, emerging British filmmaker Daniel Chisholm picked up an impressive two DepicT! ’14 awards for his captivating short Nati at the Awards Ceremony at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Daniel took home both the DepicT! British Special Mention Award and the DepicT! Shooting People Audience Award, and won a whole host of career development opportunities with BAFTA, the National Film and Television School and Shooting People.
His winning DepicT! ’14 film follows 90 year old Nati, who lives in the Ligurian mountains in Italy and spends his days tending to his olive trees. This short forms part of a feature length project Daniel’s working on that aims to capture the life and times of this special village of farmers on film.
In November 2014 we talked to Daniel two months on from his DepicT! ’14 win and heard about his last shoot as well as some of the characters he’s been working with, like Alessio – a tree climbing farmer in his 80s no less!
Watch Daniel’s winning film and read more about his filmmaking journey four months on from his big win:
Happy New Year! (Auguri! as they say in Italy)
2015 began with a bang, with more filming in Italy for my planned feature documentary and even some fun New Year’s celebration drinks with the titular, nontogenarian star of Nati and some of the other farmers in the village. We had a brilliant time chatting and playing with one of the village’s visiting grandsons, a feisty little 7-year old, who already drinks wine from his daddy’s glass, which apparently is not at all uncommon in the area. I don’t think I had acquired the taste at that age, but it seems to encourage moderation, as none of the farmers seemed to drink more than a couple of glasses of an evening, not even at the villages’ New Year’s Eve celebrations! It was still fun though, with some superbly delicious local food!
Nati is still on form and working hard on his vegetable garden, though the olive harvest this year was uncommonly poor due to unusually strong rain-fall. Apparently next year’s “racolta” (harvest) promises to be all the better as a result though, so fingers crossed!
Unfortunately Alessio, the farmer whom I had mentioned in my last report and whom we were hoping to do follow-up interviews with in January, had a fall from an olive tree (not an unusual occurrence in the profession apparently)! Luckily it wasn’t too serious, but it did keep him out of the trees for a while, and also meant we couldn’t grab him for filming. Luckily he is on his feet again and feeling better now though, so hopefully we will be able to catch up with him in the coming months.
We did however manage to shoot some material of the local farmers meeting up for their daily card game in the evening, with lots of jokes and taunts being thrown about the room during the game, which was very entertaining and will undoubtedly be a cornerstone of the edit for the film.
In other news, I have a new showreel and website in the pipeline, which I am very excited about! Hopefully that will also make it easier to approach production companies and agencies in the coming year.
I’m also planning to attend the Berlinale in February, which should hopefully be fun and a good warm-up for this year’s Encounters and DepicT! ‘ 15.
Speaking of which, I saw in a recent post that the submissions are now open for Encounters – I’d better go and see if there’s anything that I can submit!
Have a wonderful start to 2015 everyone and catch you in the next post soon!
It’s been over a month since winning the two DepicT! prizes (DepicT! Special Mention and DepicT! Shooting People Award) and I’m still buzzing from the festival – what an amazing experience! The festival was awash with great films, interesting and friendly people, and a brilliant pioneering spirit. I’ll definitely be back for more next year!
In the meantime of course, reality has kicked in again, with lots of low-budget corporates and teaching at film-school to pay the bills taking up most of my time.
I’m very excited that I am going to meet my hero and director of such great films as Warrior and Senna, Asif Kapadia, through BAFTA, as part of the DepicT! Special Mention prize. I will definitely report back on how that goes.
Also, winning at DepicT! will hopefully help me get accredited for the Berlinale, where I hope to make more contacts and do some more much-needed networking.
In the meantime, I continue to put any free time into the feature version of the film I submitted at DepicT!, Nati – it’s slow going, but great fun! The characters are unique and there are some brilliant moments in the footage we have shot so far. Now it’s all about condensing the footage I have so far and deciding what to shoot on the next trip to Italy. I feel really privileged that I can take my time over this project and really delve deep into the interesting stories of these people who live such hard, yet rich lives. I can’t wait to go back!
While editing the long version of the project, the idea is to do a series of portraits of the individual characters in the film, similar to that of Nati. Who knows, maybe one of them will make it into next year’s DepicT! or even the competition proper at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival…
One of the farmers I am interviewing in Liguria is Alessio. He loves to talk about his olive trees and nearly gave me a heart-attack when he climbed a really tall one without a harness or any other safety features! And this is an octogenarian! I think he will probably feature in one of the portraits in the run-up to releasing the feature-length film.
Right, time to get back to the edit – I will be back to give another report in a couple months!
Watch Daniel’s winning DepicT! ’14 film here.
DepicT! challenges the international creative community to make distinctive, imaginative and engaging short films under 90 seconds long. Chosen from just under 600 entries from 49 different countries, the 20 films on this year’s shortlist stood out for their originality, going into the running to win one of four great prizes.
Following a fantastic buzz at the DepicT! Showcase hosted by Watershed Cinema Curator Mark Cosgrove, distinguished guests gathered on the evening of Sat 20 Sept for the grand finale of the 20th anniversary edition of Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival to hear our expert judging panel’s take on the shortlisted films.
The prestigious panel included some of the top names in film and television, including award-winning Cinematographer Robbie Ryan, Lara Akeju from Channel 4, Shooting People’s Sarah Chorley, BAFTA winning filmmaker Yousif Al-Khalifa, Producer Chris Auty (National Film & Television School) as well as David Sproxton from Aardman Animations, who opened the Award Ceremony to a full house.
Dr David Cooke, Chair of the Royal Photographic Society Education Committee, one of the major sponsors behind the contest, presented the main DepicT! Award. British animator Ant Blades (who is behind the London based Birdbox Studio) picked up a cash prize of £1,500 and a lifetime membership to Shooting People for his rollicking animated short, Carpark. “With great comic timing, it packed a lot into 90 seconds,” said the jury, who were unanimous in their choice.
Next up was the DepicT! Royal Photographic Society Cinematography Award, selected by members of the jury including cinematographer Robbie Ryan on behalf of the RPS, who had this to say about being involved in the jury for this Award: “It’s great to see the art and craft of cinematography recognised in an emerging talent contest where the focus is often on directors. It’s a good opportunity for me to get a sense of what new creatives are up to.”
The winner of this award, Bristol based Adam DJ Laity, met with Robbie Ryan at the festival and picked up a £1000 cash prize for The Peace of Wild Things, summed up by the jury as”an emotionally charged meditation on man and nature with beautiful images.”
We caught up with Adam – who is about to start a research PhD on the use of landscape in cinematography – at the Awards Ceremony:
“DepicT! is special – I’ve always felt that if I can’t do it in 90 seconds, what makes me think I can do it 90 minutes! And I’m so pleased to have won The RPS Cinematography Award; it means a great deal and shows that the competition and the form is being held in high regard by such a prestigious organisation. It was also great to meet a master DP like Robbie Ryan – he was so generous with his time and advice.”
Stas Santimov from Ukraine picked up the DepicT! Random Acts Award for his short, The Collector, considered by the jury “an original, evocative and intricate animation that invites you into a surreal world”. Watch out for Stas’ film on Channel Four’s popular Random Acts slot. The jury also gave a special mention to British short Crow’s Nest by Robert Milne, billed by the judges as “simple and as cruel as life can be.”
Winning the DepicT! British Special Mention was Daniel Chisholm whose film Nati, is a short, honest portrayal of a 90 year old man in just 90 seconds. The jury described its maker as “an interesting voice that they’d like to hear more of.” Daniel wins a great package of career development opportunities from BAFTA, the National Film and Television School and Shooting People. Follow his progress on depict.org.
Last but not least, the DepicT! Shooting People Audience Award also goes to Nati! We’d like to thank all 2,923 of you, the audience, for voting. Daniel Chisholm picks up a Lifetime membership to Shooting People.
“I’m very excited to have won at DepicT! – I had a great time at the Festival at this win will help me gain the momentum I need to take my career to the next level.”
We’re also very grateful to our sponsors and supporters who enable us to run the DepicT! competition, and to all 580 filmmakers, from Peru to India, who submitted their 90 second films without whom we wouldn’t have a competition!
We’re thrilled to announce this year’s DepicT! shortlist – our 90 second mini-movies are now all available for your viewing pleasure – we need your help to determine the winner of the Shooting People Audience Award, so have your say on the films now!
The 20 shortlisted films have been hand picked from over 600 entries from 49 countries and YOU can decide which mini-movie of 90-seconds-or-less deserves to win one of the competition’s most prized awards, the Shooting People Audience Award. Simply watch the shortlisted films, then vote and comment on your favourite! Don’t miss your chance to have your say on this year’s fantastically original work made by creatives and filmmakers from all over the world.
The shortlisted films will get their big screen premiere at Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival (Tue 16 – Sun 21 Sept), one of the world’s leading showcases and meeting points for emerging talent at the DepicT! Showcase (Sat 20 Sept at 13:00). Join us to meet the talent and hear from professionals about the possibilities of the ultra-short film format. Ticket holders are also invited to the DepicT! ’14 Get Together in the Café/Bar, where you can mingle with DepicT! alumni and industry experts.
Our panel of stellar judges – featuring some of the biggest names in film and television – will also be at the showcase. They’ll be looking for the most distinctive, imaginative and engaging shorts in the competition and will decide which mini-movies will receive the rest of the fantastic DepicT! Awards up for grabs.
This year’s panel of judges includes Chris Auty (National Film and Television School), David Sproxton (Aardman Animations), Cinematographer Robbie Ryan BSC (The Royal Photographic Society), Yousif Al-Khalifa (BAFTA), Lara Akeju (Channel 4), and Sarah Chorley (Shooting People).
Prizes include the Main DepicT! Award of £1500, the Royal Photographic Society Award of £1000, the British Special Mention (a tailored package of career development opportunities for a UK-based filmmaker from the National Film and Television School, BAFTA, British Council and Shooting People) and there’s the Random Acts Special Mention, presented by Channel 4.
Members of the judging panel will announce which DepicT! ’14 films have won big later on in the evening of Sat 20 Sept at the Encounters Festival’s Award Ceremony, plus they will present the DepicT! Shooting People Audience Award to that one lucky filmmaker who wowed the audience and collected the most votes online.
So do have a look at this year’s shortlisted films, cast your vote, leave your comments, and watch this space – any one of our DepicT! ’14 filmmakers could win – and now, it’s over to you to decide!
Want to learn more about our DepicT! ’14 Jury? Our judges are some of the hottest names in television and film, and here, are their details.
CHRIS AUTY (HEAD OF PRODUCING, NFTS)
Chris Auty started his career as a film critic at Time Out. In 1985 he set up independent production company Oasis and later relaunched London’s Gate and Edinburgh's Cameo cinemas, before joining Jeremy Thomas’ RPC (1991-99) as MD where he produced Stealing Beauty and Crash. In 1999, he became CEO of The Film Consortium, executive producing films such as My Summer of Love and In This World. Chris is also Head of Producing at NFTS and has launched a new course (EPCRI), backed by the NFTS, Ingenious Media, and Sir Richard Branson.
DAVID SPROXTON (CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AARDMAN ANIMATIONS)
David is the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Aardman. Together with co-founder Peter Lord, he has overseen the development of the company from a two-man partnership to one of the pre-eminent animation houses in the industry. David has served as a producer, director or cinematographer on a number of animated projects at Aardman.
ROBBIE RYAN BSC (CINEMATOGRAPHER, ON BEHALF OF RPS)
At the age of 15, Robbie picked up a Super 8 camera and began to make short films. He hasn’t been able to put the camera down since, with Oscar® and BAFTA award-winning shorts to his name including Shadowscan directed by Tinge Krishna and Pitch Black Heist directed by John MacLean. It is his relationship with award winning director Andrea Arnold that has seen his most acclaimed work in Cannes Grand Jury prize winning features Red Road and Fish Tank, and most recently Wuthering Heights which picked up an Ossella Award for best technical achievement at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. With extensive experience shooting short and feature length films, commercials and music videos, Ryan has also worked with venerated UK directors Stephen Frears, on his critical and commercially successful Philomena, and Ken Loach, on his acclaimed recent films The Angel's Share and Jimmy's Hall.
YOUSIF AL-KHALIFA (DIRECTOR, ON BEHALF OF BAFTA)
After a BA in Animation at the University of Westminster, Yousif Al-Khalifa enrolled on the Directing Animation course at NFTS. Yousif's graduation project, Sleeping With The Fishes, premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival, won the student Grand Prix at the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival, the Audience award at the London International Animation Festival, the International Yuhan University President's Prize at the Puchon International Student Animation Festival, Korea, and has been selected for further festivals including Cinanima, Angiers, Leeds, Mostra and Foyle. He recently won a BAFTA for the film.
LARA AKEJU (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, CHANNEL 4)
Lara has 17 years of experience in television production. Her current role as Development Manager at Channel 4 is to drive the commissioning of content from diverse, grassroots talent throughout the UK. Prior to joining Channel 4, Lara was a factual Producer and Director, with credits including Panorama (BBC1), World's Strictest Parents (BBC3), Peckham Finishing School for Girls (BBC3) and Ramadan Diaries (Channel 4). SARAH CHORLEY (OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT, SHOOTING PEOPLE) Sarah studied Film, Journalism and Documentary Research in between working for independent production companies like Slate Films, Signal Films and Living Cinema. She later worked for London Disability Film Festival and Cambridge Film Festival, amongst others, before joining Shooting People in 2011.
Just one week to go until DepicT! ’14 submissions close! We’ve got some advice for your last tweaks from Ollie Murray, whose amusing short film Treasure is a real gem.
Here are his top tips for DepicT! entrants:
1) Don’t shoot your film until you know that the script is as tight as it can possibly be. Making films is expensive and time consuming but writing costs close to nothing so map out your films in your head and on paper before moving forward and spending money. Once you’ve shot your film and you are in the edit don’t stop working on your film until it’s absolutely the very best it can be.
2) Seek out great collaborators and don’t try to do too much yourself. A DOP with a fresh pair of eyes or an editor with a new approach to a scene will make the film much better.
3) Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing around you. Find something that interests you and tell that story the way you want to tell it. When I started making films I think I worried too much about making work that I thought other people wanted to see.
Good luck! Enter your shorts on www.depict.org before Mon 7 July – yes – just seven days!
DepicT!, Watershed’s super short filmmaking competition (as part of Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival) is thrilled to announce that world class cinematographer Robbie Ryan will be judging this year’s entries on behalf of DepicT! sponsor The Royal Photographic Society. And there’s still time to enter you tiny films (90 seconds or less) – the deadline for this years submissions is Mon 7 July.
Our star judge’s skills and interests perfectly complement DepicT!’s newest award for best cinematography, presented in partnership with the RPS, which will be selected by the DepicT! Jury alongside the main DepicT! Award of £1500 at the 20th Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival (back this year from 16 – 21 Sept).
Ryan is no stranger to the short film form with Oscar® and Bafta award-winning shorts to his name including Shadowscan directed by Tinge Krishna and Pitch Black Heist directed by John MacLean. It is his relationship with award winning director Andrea Arnold that has seen his most acclaimed work in Cannes Grand Jury prize winning features Red Road and Fish Tank, and most recently Wuthering Heights which picked up an Ossella Award for best technical achievement at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
With extensive experience shooting short and feature length films, commercials and music videos, Ryan has also worked with venerated UK directors Stephen Frears, on his critical and commercially successful Philomena and Ken Loach on his acclaimed recent films The Angel’s Share and Jimmy’s Hall.
Robbie Ryan said:
It’s great to see the art and craft of cinematography recognised in an emerging talent contest where the focus is often on directors. It’s a good opportunity for me to get a sense of what new creatives are up to. I’ll be looking out for imaginative and distinctive approaches to the 90 second framework.
Watershed’s Cinema Curator Mark Cosgrove added:
DepicT! is a brilliant showcase of the limitless potential and of micro filmmaking. We are delighted that award-winning cinematographer Robbie Ryan will join an illustrious line of professionals including director Peter Jackson, producer Chris Auty and Commissioning Editor Tabitha Jackson who recognise the value and importance of this unique filmmaking competion.
Liz Williams, RPS Education Manager, said:
We are delighted to be supporting emerging creative talent and offering a dedicated award for the best cinematography amongst the DepicT! shortlist. We feel it’s essential to recognise the art of cinematography in a swiftly changing landscape for lens based practices and can’t think of anyone better placed than cinematographer Robbie Ryan to judge this year’s entries on RPS’s behalf.
Now in its nineteenth year, DepicT! is challenging the worldwide creative community to once again create distinctive, imaginative and engaging short films under 90 seconds long and winners can expect cash prizes, invaluable industry exposure, and much more.
With this year’s special focus on the art of filmmaking and Robbie Ryan confirmed as a judge, we are more excited than ever to see whose mini movie masterpieces will make the final cut! So go on, surprise us – whatever your budget, background, country or genre – we want your tiny films! Enter for free at depict.org before Mon 7 July and who knows, maybe Robbie will be picking yours as an award-winner this year…
DepicT! – Watershed’s ultra short film competition – is once again challenging filmmakers across the globe to create a movie-masterpiece in just a minute-and-a-half! It is completely free to enter and there’s up to £2500 prize money, invaluable industry exposure as part of Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, plus other exclusive prizes up for grabs.
DepicT! prides itself on the quality of its films as well as the quality of the filmmakers who submit them. Earlier in the year we talked to Ninian Doff, whose live-action comedic short Cool Unicorn Bruv won two prizes at DepicT! ’13. Already working as a director making music videos, commercials, comedy sketches and short films, winning the DepicT! prizes has helped Ninian raise his existing professional profile and gain national and international recognition. But not all of our winners come to the competition with Ninian’s level of filmmaking experience when they enter.
Animator James Young’s mini-masterpiece Return – which was originally a final year university project – scooped him the DepicT! ’13 British Special Mention prize and is an unique take on how we think about life and death. We recently caught up with James and picked his brains for insider tips for this year’s DepicT! entrants – especially for those starting out in their careers. Here is what James had to say about getting started, how to improve, and the doors that DepicT! can open…
Can you describe your winning DepicT! film for us and how you came up with the idea?
The idea for my film was influenced by the film Enter the Void and video games Braid and Limbo. The film sees a video game character die during one of the game’s levels. When he has an out-of-body experience and enters a video game limbo between the normal working game world and the dead gltiching one, he has to make his way back to the respawn point as all around him things become more and more chaotic and broken. At the time I felt that many video games treated death as more a consequence of trial and error when solving a problem rather than it having the same level of significance it does in the real world. The act of respawning by and large is instantaneous and I wanted to explore the moment between a character dying and then re-spawning.
What drew you to the DepicT! 90 second format?
The film was actually part of a graduation project in my final year at Bournemouth University, so it wasn’t initially made for the DepicT! competition and its format. That said, the 60 – 90 second mark felt like a good thing to aim for when trying to portray an idea concisely.
How did you find the making of your DepicT! film?
It was pretty challenging and it got me to try some aspects of computer graphics that I hadn’t experimented with before. Having said that, the process was immensely satisfying and it’s a great to have something you can look back on with pride.
What was your level of experience before submitting to DepicT?
In terms of professional experience making film – none. Return was my first! I had gained good CG skills during my first two years of study, but it’s still a very different experience when you actually get down to producing your own film.
What have you been up to since your DepicT! success? Where did the competition take you?
Since winning the competition, my film has screened at some online festivals and at the MIA Animation Conference and Festival in Miami, which I attended in October and thoroughly enjoyed. As part of the DepicT! prize, I’ve also had tutoring sessions with Philip Hunt from Studio AKA and got some great advice on where to improve. I’ve interned at Keyframe Studios in London producing animations for various games and short films and I have just become a Junior Animator at Manchester facial animation company Cubic Motion where I work on upcoming games! I have also just completed a short course at the National Film and Television School and I’ve got a couple of ideas for my next film. Eventually I’d like to take a trip to Japan to find employment over there.
Can you sum up why DepicT! is important to emerging filmmakers?
I think the 90 second limit places a healthy constraint on filmmakers, encouraging them to show their skills in the most effective way possible. Encounters festival itself is also a great way for filmmakers to build good connections, crucial when you’re at the start of your career.
Do you have any advice for this years DepicT! entrants?
Stay true to the theme of your film, but also keep an open mind and explore alternative ways of filmmaking if it feels right. Do what you feel works best whilst also remaining open to advice (and criticism!) about how to improve your film. Someone can rip you a new one, but still make a good point!
So from how to accept advice and make the most of consulatiton during the creative process, to honing your skills and getting your work out there, we are grateful to James for sharing his story and we are proud that DepicT!, now in its nineteenth year, is still supporting talent on the back of its quality and innovation!
Check out some of last year’s DepicT! films for more inspiration, and remember, no matter your background, budget or genre – DepicT! wants your shorts! Entry is completely free, just head on over to depict.org to submit them by Mon 7 July. Who knows, we could be interviewing you next year…