In 2011, I was a 2-year post graduate from a BA degree in Architectural studies at Newcastle University. I did well and managed to get a 1st Class Hons degree in a subject that I certainly wasn't naturally gifted at. Whilst my degree in Architecture allowed me a steady income in a full-time job, it wasn't what I ultimately strived for professionally. It wasn't creatively fulfilling enough for me and I was insanely passionate about a well-known 120-year-old medium called film!
To backtrack momentarily; Never let anyone tell you that a part-time or full-time job to fund your real passion is not a good idea or 'giving in'. They're wrong. Personally, it gave me the freedom to take on and make films without having considering whether the job would pay my rent or bills. This freedom allowed me to be creative and at that early stage, make valuable mistakes without it having a long-term impact on my career.
Back to the story; When I graduated from University I started making music videos. My first music video was for a musician called Fyfe Dangerfield from a popular band called The Guillemots. I asked Fyfe, after one of his gigs If I could make a video for him, as I had been making plasticine sets for a non-determined project, it seemed like a perfect pairing. He said yes (much to my surprise), and therefore I was then faced with the daunting task of creating an animated music video for not only one of musical heroes but in a medium that I had never worked with before. Suffice to say, it was a difficult and time-consuming process. Thankfully I discovered coffee at this point in my life, as if not, I probably wouldn't have finished this music video:
This music video went down a treat and I quickly managed to secure a few music video 'jobs' (I put this in inverted commas because I didn't earn any money out of any of them). I also started putting the word out that I wanted to make adverts for companies for free. This may sound like a ludicrous idea but I needed content to sell my talents properly. I will go into much more detail about these things in future blog posts but here is an example of one of these adverts that I made for free:
After making many small music videos and a couple of free adverts for friends who owned companies, I decided to look into broadening out into the short film format with animation. I had no idea what I wanted to make but I had heard about grants that were given to select filmmakers to make their short films. I had a quick look online and much to my surprise found one straight away! It was available to filmmakers aged 11-25, through the Roundhouse in Camden and supported by the Ex-Animo Foundation. You had to submit a proposal (otherwise known as a pitch) to The Roundhouse and if they liked your proposal then you were invited to come into the Roundhouse for an interview. You would receive £400 to make your film and you had 2 months to make it. Sold!
I went to work straight-away, slaving over a story which I created by writing a rhyming-couplets poem and then an animatic to better explain the short animated film that I was proposing. Here is that animatic:
It was the first animatic that I ever made but proved to be the thing that won me my first ever film grant to make 'Emma'. Don't underestimate the effort required to win a film grant - even a small one! Here is my first short animated film 'Emma':
This was the first time that someone had given me money to make something and that was an incredible thing. It was more pressure than I had been used to, I didn't want to let the Roundhouse or the Ex-Animo Foundation down. It was, for me at that time, a really big deal. It took me two months to make the animated film and the Roundhouse and the Ex-Animo Foundation were very pleased with the result. For me, this film was the most important thing that I had made to date. It gave me the confidence to know that I had made something on time and in-budget, without any hiccups.
The film did very well, which was a real bonus. To date; it has amassed over 130,000+ views, received 2x nominations ('Shots 2012 New Director of The Year' nominee for Matthew Lawes / 'Best Animated Film' at Phoenix Comicon Film Festival). It also got into the following film festivals: Frames Festival - Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), Baranja Animation Festival - Croatia, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival - US, Golden Kuker Sofia International Animation Film Festival - Bulgaria, Rob Knox Film Festival - UK, N4YP Film Festival - Berlin, Basauri Bizkaia International Animated Film Festival - Spain, Cornwall Film Festival - UK.
As my career has progressed and I have run 2x successful production companies, I realise that Emma and the grant that the Roundhouse and The Ex-Animo Foundation gave to me, was the most important step towards what I have now. And because of that, I would like to provide the same opportunity to someone else, once a year. I want to provide the same support, financial input and opportunity that I was given (with a couple of extra things thrown in for good measure).
So with that in mind, do you have an amazing idea for a short film?
Other Brother Studios is granting one filmmaker per year the opportunity to make their idea a reality. There are no rules about your idea, it can be anything from a live action drama to animation. Just keep it under 5 minutes long.
What will I get?
- £400 production budget
- Free use of Other Brother Studios filmmaking kit, with training and supervision from Other Brother Studios DOP Matthew Lawes
- Support throughout the process from Other Brother Studios
- Advice on what to do with your film when it's completed
How do I enter?
You must send a treatment, an idea for your film, to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header 'Other Brother Studios Film Fund 2017'
Deadline for entries:
The deadline for short film Treatments is, 30th June 2017
Interviews will take place on 3rd July 2017 with the winning treatment selected on 7th July 2017
The winning film must be completed by 4th September 2017