No stranger to short films himself, Ben Wheatley was a fitting choice to chair the panel of judges which included his fellow filmmaker Jon S. Baird in addition to returning adjudicators Edith Bowman, Alex Zane and Empire Magazine editor Mark Dinning.
Speaking to us before the ceremony began in earnest, Wheatley told us why he jumped at the chance to be the judger of judges; “I’ve been asked to go on panels for all sorts of stuff. I’ve never done it because I wouldn’t like to be judging my peers, but something like this is great because it’s more like you’re encouraging them”.
“People can be cynical about competitions, but I think it’s the fact that if it motivates someone who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise pick-up a camera and go “you know what, I’m gonna make this”, I think it’s a great thing”, added Zane. “It’s so wonderful to see how different areas of the world interpret a movie and redefine that movie as a sixty second film. Some people mine them for laughs, some people pick up on something in the movie and one scene can turn into something else”.
In one particularly creative entry, the BAFTA nominated Tom Hanks vehicle Cast Away was turned into a rap by Karina Logotheti of Greece. Another short saw Romanian Catalin Palavescu in humorous predicaments with Wolverine’s adamantium claws. As Bowman states, “They’ve got a minute to impress, in whatever way that is. For me, it’s something that grabs me. Whether that’s visually, sound, makes me laugh, they need to make that connection within one minute which isn’t always easy to do. It’s interesting to see what people choose to focus on in 60 seconds, whether it is the theme of the film or a moment”.
Perhaps most importantly, the competition allows would-be filmmakers some much needed exposure. As Wheatley elaborates, “You need to have an audience that will go and see the films. Now everyone’s used to seeing it for free online. No one ever paid for it so there’s no business there. You can’t crawl up in tiny baby-steps making low-budget movies that make a little bit of money because you’re either making Avengers or you’re not making anything”.
On the night the 24 entries were cut into 5, with our own David Smith eventually crowned the winner at Sunday’s prestigious Jameson Empire Awards for his brilliant reimagining of There Will Be Blood. You can watch all the entries by clicking this link.