Words: Saam Das
Back in June, I wrote about the Virgin Media Shorts Awards, asking people to enter. Somewhat unexpectedly, I was invited along to this week's actual Virgin Media Shorts Awards show at the British Film Institute. I even managed to wangle a +1 (thanks Sophie!) so I even went, instead of bottling it as I didn't know anyone else going. It turned out to be a wonderful evening. Bravo, Virgin Media, we salute you.
After 1600 entries for the short film competition, we got to see the twelve finalists. Many of which were terrific, and I think the vast majority of attendees were heartened by the winner, chosen by a panel of judges including Thandie Newton, Mike Newell, Duncan Jones, Chris Collins and James King.
We also saw last year's winner 'Mixtape', directed by Luke Snellin, who had a little chat with host Danny Wallace, telling us what a big stepping stone winning the competition was. I also saw the young central actor from 'Mixtape', Bill Milner, looking somewhat fearful of all the drunken media types. Shame I didn't go say hello, found out in the morning he was in the new X-Men prequel playing Magneto, being directed by Matthew Vaughn. Gutted. Bill's also in Luke's new film 'Disco', which was made with the winnings from the 2009 competition.
Here are some of my favourites, which happen to be the same as Dave's choices over at HeyUGuys:
'Audiobook' (Director: James Spinney)
A wonderfully humorous and well-written short, inspired by the angry outbursts of many a Hollywood actor.
'The Gathering' (Director: James Cooper)
Capturing a social awkwardness I've experienced many a time, yet on a world defining scale. This short portrays Jesus Christ as a (surprisingly fallible) postman. Brilliant.
'Probably' (Director: Kate Anderson)
As someone who has no idea about his future, I can absolutely relate to the idea of walking into the future and hoping things will pan out. This quirky animation portrays such a journey.
AND THE WINNER....'Sign Language' (Director: Oscar Sharp)
To emotionally engage one person with a 2 minute short film is hard enough but to have a packed audience at the BFI collectively say "awww" at the end of 'Sign Language' demonstrated Oscar Sharp's fantastic ability behind the camera and Jethro Skinner's charm in front of it. And the witty script worked to perfection too. Beautiful and heart-warming.
What made the win all the pleasing was meeting Robert Waters, one of the other actors in 'Sign Language', who was ridiculously drunk but a very humble and affable person. We hope you got home okay, Robert. And we hope that Oscar uses his £30,000 winnings (jointly provided by Virgin Media and the UK Film Council) to produce another stunning creative project.
Watch all 12 shortlisted films at the Virgin Media Shorts website, including 'Bus Baby', which won the public competition.