THE SMALLS FILM FESTIVAL - SMALL BY NAME, NOT BY NATURE
Being the newest member of the team at Festival Formula, I'm ashamed to admit this was my first film festival. They say start small and grow big, so what better place to start other than ‘The Smalls Film Festival’ in London... Although it's hardly small in size with this being its 11th edition. Tucked away in Curtain Road, Hackney, it was an intimate venue with a lively atmosphere. With my brother in tow, I attended the 3rd day of the 5 day long short film festival unsure of what exactly to expect. My first thought as we entered Hackney House was, ‘wow, they’ve got tote bags’. The suspense of what goodies and readables could be inside almost excited me more the films. I joke! The fiery worcester sauce and sun dried tomato flavoured popcorn did hold a very strong case, however.
The first screening was the ‘Official Selection Local Filmmaker Shorts Screening’. I have quite a strong appreciation for local filmmakers’ work, which is often overlooked. The films I saw in this screening were great examples of grassroots, original ideas that really pique my interest. From a controversial microchip that’s placed into the back of the head and allows the recipient to die in secret (Exit Chip) to the rise, and fall, and re-rise of a Nokia 3210 ringtone composition genius (RinGtone); it was packed with daring and unique ideas. I particularly enjoyed the quirky short from director Paul Murphy (Social Networking Socially - Society Through Technology) a great take on modern day social media in the way of a 1960s infomercial if it had been invented at that time. That film also, at no surprise, was up for best comedy.
Washing the laughs down with a delicious hand crushed cream soda (how do you crush cream and soda?) from the complementary bar I then enjoyed the D&AD Next Director Award Showcase - an exclusive screening of this year's Next Director Award shortlist. From music videos to advertisements, the directors featured really were at full-flex with their creative muscles. My favourite was a Grammy nominated music video ‘L$D’ thats colorful hip-hoppy acid-trippy style were only complimented by the big screen. Followed by a close second; an advertisement which followed the trials and tribulations of man made of Skittles, which to be honest began to creep me out more and more as it went on almost more than the giant pet lobster film.
That brings me on to the next array of films that were screened under the theme of ‘Metamorphosis’. The shorts all tied to change and transformation. I loved the way a new theme is set each year and really enjoyed this year's selection.
The two panels I attended were thoroughly info-packed, especially the ‘Think You're Funny? Learn The Secrets of Successful Modern-day Comedy Writing’ panel led by LOCO Comedy Film Festival's Jonathan Wakeham. Hearing from some top people in the industry on one of the trickiest subjects was invaluable. Lara Singer from Big Talk Productions was able to shed some light on a few tips regarding script writing and the do’s and dont’s when sending them into companies. "Originality is key" she explained. Michael Orton-Toliver, co-creator and writer (Borderline, Channel 5) explained he was lucky enough for a concept and story to reach out to him due to previous experiences and felt story really played a huge part with on screen gags. On the contrary Ben Willbond (Actor//Writer//Producer) believed writers should concentrate on characters and develop them, then once put into funny scenarios, allowing comedy to unfold hilariously organically.
For this festival to be the one to take my cherry, it was a pleasure. The Smalls Film Festival runs till Wednesday 7th at Hackney House, I highly recommend the programme... And the hand crushed cream soda.