Tag Archives: Short

British by the Grace of God (Short) – BFI London Film Festival Review

British by the Grace of God is an intimate short set during the summer of the Brexit referendum in Scotland, focusing on Irene (Kate Dickie), a middle aged woman who has nothing but love and support to offer, but is often shunned for it. Be it her cold husband, her distant son or her judgemental friends, she struggles to find her place with any of them.

British by the Grace of God is a very tender and gentle film; it captures it’s small scale well and is beautifully crafted to be a slow and quiet piece. Kate Dickie is fantastic in the lead, and the film has such a gentle touch to it. It’s very well paced and feels completely ordinary, never once becoming convoluted or contrived and sticks to what it’s doing so well.

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure what I was supposed to take away from this film. There are some…Interesting moments, let’s say, that feel very out of place, and I’m wondering if it’s because the short length does it no favours. I’m not entirely certain of the relevance of the Brexit backdrop, nor if I understand what this film builds up to, or perhaps if it’s purposely vague.

Of course, I could just be missing something in what is otherwise a tender and emotional film that has an excellent lead performance and knows exactly what type of film it’s aiming to be, and nails it in it’s direction and editing. British by the Grace of God is great output from Sean Dunn, who is clearly a talented filmmaker, and we’d hope to see more from him in the future.

British by the Grace of God is playing at BFI London Film Festival! 

Comeback Kid (Short) – BFI London Film Festival Review

Comeback Kid is the chilling story of a man who comes home to find his wife cheating on him, and dies shortly after as he attempts to get away. 16 years later, he’s been re-incarnated as a teenager, and finds himself back in his old world in the most horrifying way.

Comeback Kid is brilliant; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something to make my skin crawl, but this truly nails it. I really don’t want to give too much away, but almost effortlessly, the film establishes a weird and creepy atmosphere, that only gets more and more uncomfortable as it goes on. It relies heavily on dramatic irony to freak the audience out, and is just one of those films where you want to scream “No don’t do that!” repeatedly with the information you’re given. It’s almost unbearable to watch, but the way the plot unfolds is sheer genius, and it’s a concept that you’d kick yourself for not thinking of.

Huge credit to Tom Cawte for an exceptional performance; as young Hugh, he makes the transition from innocent teenager to the damaged young man he becomes following the film’s overwhelmingly messed up events so seamless. It’s a very natural progression. It’s not at all forced or unbelievable, and whilst I’d love to go into detail about why it’s so well done, I couldn’t possibly without giving the ending away, and it’s imperative that you don’t know how this unfolds.

On top of all that, it’s very well shot, has an interesting use of graphics and is just by far one of the most unique and disturbing short films I’ve ever seen. Check it out any chance you get, because it really is something special.

Comeback Kid plays as part of Gits & Shiggles at BFI London Film Festival! 

“Life is absurd” – Pippa Young talks Goathland and C4 Random Acts

“I am attracted to the absurd, because life is absurd.”

It seems apt that these words would fall from Pippa Young’s lips as we talk on Friday evening. Bonding over a shared tin can injury (for which Young is recovering from,) the filmmaker is, despite her pain, celebrating her work Goathland, which is to be featured in the upcoming series Channel 4’s Random Acts, in a joyous celebration of the surreal. The film revolves around two mime-like balloon enthusiasts who come across one another and an ensuing battle commences.

The 23 year old from Ebberston Yorkshire has been honing her craft for a while and has established herself as an unusual but brilliant filmmaker. “I’ve always been hugely gripped by cinema,” Young says, speaking of how she got into the industry. I became curious about making a film around 16 when I persuaded my reluctant twin sister to be in front of my new camera to see what would happen.  I got her to don a freaky bunny head and filmed her walking on beaches, playing golf, sat in a beautiful old empty cinema in my hometown of Scarborough. I borrowed a friend’s live white bunny and the film concludes with her transforming into a real rabbit – almost like a reverse Pinocchio. It wasn’t meant to be funny but now it’s hilarious to watch! I discovered how incredibly exciting it is to turn visions from your head into images with real colours, real people and real sound. I studied filmmaking at Kingston University and being surrounded by a breadth of very creative people with crazy ideas was amazing.”

Flash forward a couple of years and Young is now set to showcase her work to thousands of people thanks to the return of Random Acts. The doors have thrown themselves open to Young: “I was quite proud when I was featured in Gothic seaside town Whitby’s local paper. That’s a goal ticked off my list.”

As mentioned and reviewed, Goathland is a fantastic three minute piece that combines the colourful and the bleak, which is seemingly accurate because it was dreamt up thanks to a hangover. “Perhaps it’s because the rational voice of doubt is busy sleeping,” Young says, describing her work, I was drifting through Waterloo station and saw a balloon artist wearing a huge towering balloon hat, which was mesmerizing. I became very excited by the idea of bringing ambitious balloon sculptures into a narrative and thought how interesting it could be to bring them somewhere unexpected. I live close to the Yorkshire Moors and knew the desolate, ancient beauty of the landscape would create a wonderful contrast to the absurdity of inflatable animals. I obsessively researched balloon art and got in touch with David Crofts, a brilliantly talented balloon artist with a mad website containing all kinds of balloon desks and cars. David was immediately keen on the collaboration and it was a wonderful process to discuss the dimensions and colours of each balloon object. I am so grateful to Stop Play Record (the initiative that funded this film) for giving me the means to work with all kinds of skilled people, each bringing a new dimension to the film. The male actor in the film is actually my brother, Paddy Young, and it was a huge amount of fun working together – it definitely won’t be the last time!”

Goathland has a distinct classic feel to it, harken back to the era of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. And it’s with these cinematic greats where Pippa found her stride. “Keaton was a top reference for the character. Others include the Strawberry Lunch in The Seventh Seal and contrasts like that: Profound meetings in the countryside. Silent movies were  more bizarre and there will be shots of the moon and weirdness.”

The short certainly brings back a childlike and colourful nature to the Yorkshire Moors, which are often shown as bleak in movies such as Catch Me Daddy. “There is something of an amusing light to the Moors. It’s a beautiful kind of bleakness. In the summer though, you get these purple flowers which changes the atmosphere completely. We caught it just as they were turning blue which greatly contrasts the balloon colour.”

That must have been some sight, these balloons atop the rolling hills of the Moors. Young denotes some tales of being stopped by landowners:  It’s funny because I always describe folks in Yorkshire as friendly but we didn’t realise where we filmed was actually someone’s land!” After being berated, Young managed to convince the farmer to allow them to film as they had little budget. The following day, the same thing happened. Luckily, the second lad found it really cool.

It’s lucky because now we get to enjoy a great short from Young this evening. Hosted by Zawe Ashton, Random Acts occurs every Monday night where short films and exeperimentia. Starting in 2011, it is great to see Channel 4 throw their weight behind Young’s work as well as upcoming filmmakers like her. Naturally, Young is excited to showcase her work: “It’s insane! I feel like a birthday cake wish has come true! I’ve always admired Channel 4 for showing bold and wildly imaginative work. To have my own work broadcast on such a brilliant platform is the most exciting and encouraging affirmation to carry on making films! The Random Acts films are all so superb, there is so much talent and imagination in every short so it is a great honour to be shown amongst them”

It is also wonderful to see female filmmakers on the precipice of this new generation of directors. “It’s an amazing time for women in film,” Young ruminates. “Though we just came from Cannes where only 7% of the works shown were by women, there are lots of companies such as Birds Eye View and Women in Film and TV which help push female filmmaking.”

It’s not just festivals such as UnderWire, Cannes, or London Short Film Festival, but there are a lot of companies pushing these shorts and features forward. For example Young got a major boost from company called Stop Play Record. “They funded my film and selected 24 films to go forward, which most happened to be by women. They weren’t chosen because they were by women but it’s great to see talent like this starting to filter through.”  

With Young on a clear path for an illustrious and vivid movie career, her advice to upcoming or wishful filmmakers is simple: Don’t be afraid. “Fear is destructive to creativity! Dive whole-heartedly into an idea and immerse yourself in all kinds of research, whether it’s wandering around museums alone, exploring archives, people-watching or putting yourself in unfamiliar environments – anything can lead to brilliant inspiration. Also make use of all the wonderful initiatives, workshops, grants that are around for aspiring filmmakers these days – it’s a great time to be making art!

Catch Young’s Goathland as part of Channel 4 Random Acts tonight!


On The Short Circuit: Karen from Finance

Drag is everywhere at the moment. Everyone and their mothers are completely obsessed with all things cinched and all things wigged. Thanks to the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag has gone from the clubs and nightlife to mainstream life. In fact, side bar, I just had an hour meeting that turned into two because we were both frothing from the mouth about the show. It’s just that good.

Not a RuPaul star, but certainly making waves in the drag community, Karen from Finance is the focus of this beautifully filmed short.

Directed by Dan Ali, Karen from Finance sees the titular star, performed by Richard Chadwick, drive around the city of Melbourne, Australia. This small snippet looks at Richard, the impact of his mother’s breast cancer ordeal, and the increasing popularity of his alter ego Karen.

This short film is such a simple premise, shot from the back of Chadwick’s car as he speaks about his life. With a poodle in tow, the film’s cinematography and shooting style is evocative. Learning more about Karen and Chadwick, the film drives along this narrative journey in a spectacular way. It’s short but stunning, dragging you into Chadwick’s world (pun fully intended.) Even if it is just a small part of it.

There are snippets of Karen throughout, culminating in one final (and fierce,) look that highlights Chadwick’s talent. As the star has toured with the likes of Bob the Drag Queen, Katya and, Trixie Mattel (the pair even mentioning her on their popular webseries UNGHhh), and has recently been featured on Hey Qween, this is a compelling look at a icon in the making. Fabulous, fun, and ferocious, Karen from Finance is not a name you’ll be forgetting soon.

5 Classic Shorts You Have To Watch

It is no secret that I gobble up shorts like there is no tomorrow. It is a fact that does not bare repeating despite the fact I do so again and again. The art of the short form cinema takes one of great talent. It is not just a format for directors to develop their visuals and craft. But short cinema can tell evocative stories, peddle some wonderfully creative and imaginative visuals. They also have a bigger history, where people would be thrilled by cinema in all its innovative glory. So, here are some classic shorts you have to watch.

Vincent (1982)

And an eighties brilliant one thrown in for good measure. Vincent is a delightful grim small film from the electric haired mind of Tim Burton. Though the director is running his uniquely flared movies into tedium, he did have a couple of moments and decades where all he could produce were original excellence. He kicked off his career making shorts which including the grim Frankenweenie and this stop-animation success. Telling the story of a young boy who is obsessed with Vincent Price, the film was a black and white celebration of the old horror master while distinctively setting Burton’s visuals that would become famed later one. With this rolling narrative in deep in rhyme and Edgar Allen Poe gothicness, Vincent is an excellent.

A Trip To The Moon (1902)

It may have only been recently that I spoke about the engaging and glorious La Voyage Dans La Lune but George Melies work has been an inspiring short that has provoked filmmakers to make short films since its dawn; show cased greatly in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. The tale of astronauts flying towards the lunar body and meeting aliens was a visionary triumph for cinema. It captured a wonderful relationship between theatre, magic and cinema as well as portraying a wondrous dream like landscape with impeccable visuals. It was ground-breaking, astonishing and still gorgeous to look at.


La Jetee (1962)

One of the best things about short films is the way you can experiment. You can great a visual narrative without over-selling it, working your ideas into a smaller scale. La Jetee is one of those films. Inspiring Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, the 1962 film is told entirely in Polaroid snaps and narration. Revolving around a dystopian world where humanity is forced to live underground, La Jetee focuses on a protagonist who is sent back in time by scientists in order to find a cure to the virus that roams the land. Terrifying and disturbing at times, La Jetee is a sublime example of how experimental shorts can impact cinema.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Talking about experimental, here is a short film that is considered one of the first example of cult classic cinema. Of course, what did you expect when you combine the brains of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel? Nothing less than an unnerving collection of nightmarish shots and scenes that are fragmented yet powerful. It is surrealist and its disjointedness doesn’t follow conventions of cinema that even we’d find strange now. Yet it is there to provoke, to be able to take your own themes and sense of notion from the images you are seeing. The way the film leaves you and that sense of disintegration will leaving you disconcerting.

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Only ten minute long, The Great Train Robbery is a great film that is the definitive term for ground-breaking. Made in 1903 it is one of the first examples of cinema ever. Not just technical but the story structure, visuals and editing all combined for ten rambunctious minutes. Telling the tale of a train being looted by bandits, this short by Edwin S. Porter is an example of human endeavour when it comes to cinema. No, screw that. It is an example of human endeavour when art, history and the world as we know it were shaped somewhat by The Great Train Robbery.

What other classic shorts would you suggest? 

Tonight She Comes – Brand New Trailer!

Here’s the brand new trailer for Tonight She Comes.


Stop laughing. You’re an adult. I don’t want to hear any of this “That’s what she said” too. Just. I’ll wait for the giggling to subside.

Are you nearly done?

OK. Well, Tonight She Comes (straighten up now) is a very independent horror film revolving around a group of teenagers who

Warning. Like major warning. If you have photosensitive epilepsy then I’d avoid the trailer because it’s a rolling barrage of black and white images that looks like someone flipped it through a Windows Media Player filter. There’s no major urge to watch it but it looks interesting!