“Fix it in Pre-” How to approach the role of ‘the Producer.’

Rosie Grahame

Rosie Grahame

Words by Rosie Grahame
Having announced our six shortlisted screenplays for 2014, MannIN Shorts are currently running a series of ‘Producer’s Workshops’. In preparation for the next stage of development we’re encouraging anyone who might be interested in the role to find out more and get involved!

On Wednesday evening (12th Feb) we invited Bev Lawley (of Ex-Isle Casting Agency) and Emily Cook (of Reel Vision Film Solutions) to share their experiences and offer advice to any would-be Producers. Both Bev and Emily have previously produced short films as part of the MannIN Shorts scheme and have since taken on their own independent projects.

Producer 101 workshop with Emily and Bev

Producer 101 workshop with Emily and Bev

So what does the Producer actually do?

We hear this question quite often… in fact, before I got to grips with the basics of the movie-making malarkey I remember asking it myself. Like so many roles in the industry, if you’re doing your job properly, you shouldn’t be seen to be doing it at all.

So for those still wondering, the Producer is – the project manager, the puppet-master, the tiny little acorn to the vast oak tree of cast and crew. The Producer will oversee (and assume responsibility for) the entire filmmaking process, from the initial concept through to screening and distribution. It’s worth noting that in the early stages of project development, Producers render ultimate creative control… they can (and have) fired Directors!

The main responsibilities:

  • – Bringing the team (both cast and crew) together.
  • – Preparing and managing the budget.
  • – Raising money (through private/corporate sponsorship, or crowd-funding for example).
  • – Securing locations.
  • – Scheduling the shoot.
  • – Organising catering (a film crew, like an army, marches on their stomach!)
  • – Managing the legalities of health and safety and insurance.
  • – Screening and distribution of the final film.


A good producer has a varied skillset here are a few worthy traits:

  • – Diplomacy and strong interpersonal skills to develop beneficial working relationships.
  • – Knowing your limits, and when to ask for help; delegation is a key task and a supportive framework of team members, (production assistants and/or runners) will be happy to assist.
  • – Organisation and preparation; the ability to foresee problems and resolve them before they arise.

As part of the MannIN Shorts scheme, the three final films that enter production this year will be made on the Island. The Isle of Man offers many benefits for film production; as well as the varied landscape for locations, the island has a vibrant creative hub, often making it easier to get introductions to people or locations or venues.

As you may have gathered however, that’s not to say that producing a movie on Man is plain-sailing! Overcoming challenges and resolving problems is a regular feature in the Producer’s job, and is part of what makes the role so rewarding. Low-budet movie-making is a skill in itself, and obtaining sponsorship can be a daunting task, often suited to anyone with a background in sales or marketing. Our MannIN Shorts Producers were on-hand to offer some useful advice…


When approaching the corporate sector, put together a list of potential businesses who may have an interest in becoming involved with your project if it is addressing a topic that relates to the services they offer. Emily gave the following example with reference to MannIN Shorts’ ‘Barry Brown’:


Members of the Barry brown Production with Sponsors Allmode

“We knew the story would resonate with businesses and organisations concerned with issues relating to war and it’s human collateral. We approached AllMode who hire ex- service personnel to work as international private security around world. They recognised and shared our vision and came on board generously. We had a similar experience with our other main sponsor DoxBond.”

For certain creatve projects, crowd-funding campaigns such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo can provide a huge resource. If the right bods see your work, you can gain immense support both financially and through online promotion of your project.

It is important to explain to any potential sponsor the reason that you are involved with the project. Stay true to the vision of the project; don’t compromise the production values to please someone else. A sponsor is more likely to come on board if you can articulate your passion and enthuse them; excitement is infectious, prove to them that this is a rewarding endeavour.

For most businesses, supporting local projects is tax deductable, so from a purely financial perspective it has great potential for both parties. You could equally offer a sponsorship package, for a fixed price to give the business advertising and marketing opportunities within the film, and credit at the end. Emily advises:

“Think of your fund-raising in terms of what you can offer [the organisation] more than simply what they can give you. Don’t underestimate the value of signed posters, a credit on the film, VIP premiere invites, set visits, access to special material surrounding the film and powerful brand association.”

Emily Cook Producer of Barry Brown

Emily Cook Producer of Barry Brown

Another useful approach is to look at “payment in kind”, if a company is unable to offer financial support, they may be able to provide a service (such as travel or kit-hire) for a reduced price.

Be resourceful and creative in your approach, and follow through with your promises. Sincerity, politeness and enthusiasm can go a long way.

Hard work? Yes. Stressful? There are moments…!

So why do they do it?

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

(John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, The A-Team)

It’s undeniably encouraging as the project begins to gather momentum. The Producer will see the project from start to finish, and there is an immense sense of achievement when the film reaches completion. To know that you have been an integral part of the process is hugely rewarding. As a Producer, every day is different, with a variety of tasks you will also gain innumerable transferable skills that can be applied to other areas of your professional and personal life, or can be taken to future projects.


Alistair delivering his Producing Tips

Also, if you’ve ever worked as part of a crew before, or if you see any of the behind-the-scenes videos from shoots, you’ll detect an almost tangible creative energy from all involved. The Producer helps to make that happen, too.

Alistair Audsley

Alistair Audsley

Our next Producer’s Workshop was held at The Forum, Mount Havelock Road, the following Wednesday.  We had independent Producer (and Writer, and Director) Alistair Audsley flown in especially to join us!

Alistair has experience in producing films of varying budgets all over the world. His short film ‘A Night At Robert McAlisters” became the award winning feature ‘The Paddy Lincoln Gang’ – both of which he wrote, directed, produced and shot in LA. He currently has several projects in pre-production and some in post- and distribution land, so has a wealth of experience to share.

In the meantime, for a look at our Producers-in-action, check out the link below to access the behind-the-scenes video from the MannIN Shorts ‘Scene Stealer’ competition:

If you’d like to read more about low-budget producing, Emily recommends the following publications:

‘How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer Paperback’

Roberta Marie Munroe http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Make-Short-Film/dp/1401309542 ‘Raindance Producers’ Lab Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking’

Elliot Grove (founder of Raindance Film Festival) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Raindance-Producers-Lab-Budget-Filmmaking/dp/0240516990

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Calling all writers!

Our seasonal Writers Gatherings are well underway, with a great mix of familiar faces as well as some newcomers, and we hope to welcome you all to our future gatherings, screenings and workshops; there’s going to be lots coming up over the next few months so watch this space for more details!

Ahead of the MannIN Shorts script submission deadline, (January 24th) we wanted to encourage any interested writers, those who have written previously and those who are complete beginners, to get together with a view to sharing our ideas and identifying some key considerations when writing for short films.

We’ll actually be holding another Writers Gathering this Saturday (Jan 18th) to help whip those scripts into shape before submission. Any interested writers are invited to bring along one or two copies of their scripts/screenplays, completed first drafts or even a few basic scenes which we can run through, bringing the ideas to life, and helping to identify any adjustments before the initial deadline. Drop in and see us at Thie Ellyn (The IoM Arts Society building, just off Withington Road in Douglas) from 10 ’til 12.30(ish).

Here’s a link to the location: http://isleofmanartsociety.com/location-2/

In the meantime though….

Image So what makes a successful script?

strong characters: not necessarily likeable, but definitely engaging, the writer must know their characters’ every thought and motive, and understand the world from their characters’ point of view. A strong character should be distinct, and it is their journey, their wants, needs, crises and decisions that drive the story.

coherent story: it is crucial to be clear about the story you are telling, it may seem like an obvious statement, but at an early stage, plotting the beginning – middle – end will form the backbone of your story and a good structure will keep you focused, allowing each scene to drive the story forward. The plot is the route, the story is the journey.

convincing conclusions: bringing the story to a meaningful climax whilst avoiding predictability can be a real challenge. As a writer it is essential to maintain an awareness of your audience at all times, what do you want to convey to them? What is the emotional response you hope to evoke? A well written ending will satisfy, leaving a memorable impact.

ImagePlot ‘twists’, are a common feature in short films such as the critically acclaimed ‘Gone Fishing‘, written by Chris Jones, (director of the London Screenwriters Festival, who recently ran a two-day workshop on the Island as part of the Film Festival). Although not essential, when used appropriately plot twists allow sufficient deviation from the main story to keep the audience engaged and entertained.

Once the writer is confident in a solid concept, the next step is to condense the story into a brief, clear synopsis, known in the biz as a ‘treatment’. A treatment allows the writer to convey the screenplay in a compelling way, introducing characters and addressing the story arc, highlighting conflict/resolution and plot progression.

Apparently, when hearing pitches for new movies, Steven Spielberg makes his decision based on a two sentence description of the story. As well as a comprehensive treatment, these ‘loglines’ are used as a marketing tool to sell potential scripts to producers (and audiences!) Here are a couple of examples of loglines from successful movies:

Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone:-
Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.”

Writing is re-writing after all… so before you start on the nitty-gritty of the script, write your treatment, when your treatment is complete, distill the essence into a logline… and get scribbling!

We’ve heard some great pitches so far, and with that in mind it would be useful to highlight some important criteria when writing for MannIN Shorts:

budget: (try and keep your production costs to a minimum so your budget remains achievable, and your producer will be a lot less stressed with production starts! )

location: (although your film doesn’t need to be set on the Island, the locations do need to remain on the Isle of Man; some of the most successful short films require only one or two locations, which also helps to facilitate a smoother shooting schedule.)

staying in the ‘real’ world: (it’s amazing what we can create with good props and make-up, but minimising the need for special effects keeps costs down and makes small-scale production feasible.)

cast number: (keeping your cast number small allows the story to stay focused; also, most of the previous film shoots have taken place over two to four days so the smaller the cast and crew, the easier it should be to co-ordinate availability… in theory!)

alicecreedAs part of the Isle of Man Film Festival back in September, we were fortunate to have a question and answer session with writer/director J Blakeson who spoke at a special screening of his film ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed‘. The film is set almost exclusively in one location, and centres around only three characters, and yet the success of the film lies in the strength of the story, the relentless surprises which continue to keep the audience guessing up until the final few frames. As J Blakeson explained “[the script] is so twisty because plot is free! You’re sitting there in a room on your own and it doesn’t cost you anything to come up with a really good story. If it works on the page, then it should work on the screen.”

His one piece of advice for budding filmmakers and screenwriters was “…take every job you can and learn from every job you do. And don’t give up.” Wise words.

For further info in the meantime, the links below provide some great resources for aspiring writers and filmmakers alike:



Good luck! We can’t wait to see what 2014 has got in store…!

(Blog by Rosie)

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Pitching with Film Producer Phil Gates

1535637_689883927699679_291333396_nOn Saturday, a group of Isle of Man based budding writers, creatives and producers gathered as part of the MannIN Shorts film making scheme for a Pitch and Plot workshop kindly sponsored by PokerStars, run by visiting film producer Phil Gates.

MannIN Shorts founder Dave Armstrong commented, ’We thought it was really important to have a session where writers are able to refine their art of pitching their script and discuss  their ideas with someone working in the UK film industry.’

The session had a large turnout,
where Island based writers and ideas people had the opportunity to talk through their short film script ideas with Phil, who offered in depth advice on the content of their plots and how a pitch can be formulated from their ideas.

A pitch is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation of an idea for a film or TV series generally made by a screenwriter or director to a producer or studio executive in the hope of attracting development finance to pay for the writing of a screenplay. Dave Armstrong elaborates, ‘Being able to engage the listener with a concise, passionate taste of your story is essential if you ever hope to get them to go on and read your script.’

The timing was perfect for this particular workshop as many of those who attended are currently developing a script to enter into the latest MannIN Shorts ‘Script to Screen’ competition, in association with Isle of Man Film and the Isle of Man Arts Council.

The process of creating a pitch, highlights the areas of a script or plot that still need work, helping the writer get to the heart of the story at the development and writing stages.

Some of Phil’s Top Tips offered during the session:-

At the Workshop

At the Workshop

‘Try to work out what the crux is of your story and focus on that in the pitch.’

‘You don’t need to tell me the whole story. If you to pitch to me, simply try to intrigue me enough to make me want to read your script’

‘Short films are about a feeling or an emotion of something rather than telling a full narrative.’

When writing, ‘listen to everyone’s opinion, but don’t follow anyone’s advise, unless you believe in it yourself.’ Co Founder of MannIN Shorts Dave Armstrong elaborates on Phil’s point…. ‘Above all, develop a script the you really believe in, take on board feedback, but remember it is your  idea, and fight for your story. All of our comments are only subjective opinions. There are no rights and wrongs!’

A word from some of those who attended the session with Phil:-

Garry Lavin

Garry Lavin

‘It confirmed my thoughts on how one has to be concise and confident. And fully prepared.’
Garry Lavin

Beverly Lawley

Beverly Lawley

‘I gained from the session that I should submit a script for my idea, as I wasn’t going to and if I hadn’t gone yesterday I doubt whether I would have.’
Beverly Lawley

Shawn Sturnick

Shawn Sturnick

‘I walked away with the confidence that it all was possible. Write a story, pitch it, make a film. All you have to be is good.’
‘I’ve taken away from the session that  The pitch counts. Doesn’t matter how good your story is if your pitch isn’t clear.’
Shawn Sturnick

Rosie Grahame

Rosie Grahame

‘I enjoyed the  session, felt most inspired by hearing other people share their ideas, making me realise what a talented bunch of folk we’ve got around us. Phil’s advice helped to streamline my ideas and his emphasis on the need for clarity when developing and explaining a story was very enlightening.’
Rosie Grahame

The organisers of MannIn Shorts are always happy to offer guidance and support wherever possible for your film project. Dave Armstrong says,  ‘Any time that you would like to run an idea by us-even just to practice your pitch, we would be happy to organise another informal session.’

Phil Gates found himself,  ‘totally struck with the group. I was surprised at the imaginative, original and ambitious ideas pitched. I can see how many of those who attended  the workshop had previously benefited a great deal from other areas of the MannIN Shorts scheme. I hope that the resulting scripts and films live up to the potential of the ideas flying around the room during the workshop.’


If you were unable to make it to the session with Phil or simply would like to find out some more information on Pitching:- There are some great online resources to help you get your pitch into shape. Here is just one:  http://twoadverbs.site.aplus.net/pitcharticle.htm

Written by Emily Cook –  at MannIn Shorts


Emily Cook-


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Well, 2013 certainly was a busy one for MannIN Shorts, and 2014 is already looking to be even busier for film and filmmakers on the Isle of Man.

Last year, our filmmakers completed three short film shoots – ‘Barry Brown’ (formerly ‘Welcome Home’), ‘Solace’ (formerly ‘Solace in Wicca’) and ‘Closet’, each of which was previewed to excellent reviews at the 2013 Isle of Man Film festival; we held workshops in everything from sound recording to cinematography; we ran several holiday film schools for 8-18 year olds in conjunction with Isle of Man Arts Development; we ran a public exhibition in the Tynwald Library; and we judged the One World Centre schools short film competition, for which we also supplied the main prize of a one day film school. Amongst plenty of other things, too. So it was fairly busy, then!

And at the end of 2013, we finally secured support – both creative and financial – from Isle of Man Film for three brand new film projects for 2014. This new support goes along with confirmed continued support from the IOM Arts Council and existing support from PokerStars (for workshops) and is something we’ve been working towards since 2010, and will make a considerable difference to the way we’re able to run the scheme.


Jim Hampton’s ‘Storytelling’ Workshop

We’ve already asked Emily Cook (Reel Visions Films) and Rosie Grahame to come on board and help us run the administrative side of the scheme, something that will enable us to run more workshops, update the website and focus more on training.

It’s great timing, as the Island is to be branded “Island of Culture 2014” – celebrating the Island “through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts and literature, cultural festivals, film and digital innovation, and leave a lasting legacy for creativity and the arts” (source: http://www.islandofculture.im/) All of the above-mentioned talents and creative areas are essential to the filmmaking process, and we have grand plans to add to the calendar of events for IOC2014.

But like all great movies, it all begins with a great screenplay.. and that’s where YOU come in! At the start of December we announced a new screenwriting competition, and there’s still time to enter. We are looking for three short scripts by Manx (or Isle of Man resident) writers, that will produce no longer than 15mins screentime; they can be narrative or documentary and the only stipulation is that the three winning projects must be made on the Island to qualify for the the creative and financial support of the MannIN Shorts scheme (and the funding available from Isle of Man Film).

ImageThe first deadline for the competition is January 24th. We’ve already restarted our regular Writers Gatherings, and have two ‘pitch and plot’ style workshops on the cards, all to help those who are interested in entering but may need a little guidance.

So, keep an eye on our Facebook page and website – and be sure to sign up to our mailing list if you haven’t already – for regular updates and to be certain you don’t miss out.

In the meantime, thanks for all your continued support throughout 2013 and here’s to a happy, healthy, fun-packed and film-focussed ’14.

Bring it on!!

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All the Fun of the Fleadh!

Got back tonight from beautiful Galway, after spending 5 days at Ireland’s leading film festival.

Dave and Zoe on the steps of the Town Hall Theatre

Dave and Zoe on the steps of the Town Hall Theatre

This was our first Film Fleadh (seemingly pronounced ‘flarh’) and I doubt it’ll be our last. We went on the recommendation of David Wilkinson, who EVERYbody in the industry seems to know* and who we were introduced to by our great friend and fellow filmmaker Danny Lacey.

<*I’m tempted for our next doc to be “Who is David Wilkinson?” The man is fascinating, just the right side of mysterious – and above all, great fun to be around>

The trip was a great chance for us to scope out the latest independent releases, attend a few seminars and check that we’re on the right track with our own fledgling festival (isleofmanfestival.com), but we were primarily there under the steam of our production company, DAM Productions Isle of Man.

As DAM, we had booked ourselves into The Marketplace (industry meetings with distributors and sales agents) to discuss and introduce projects like The Watchmaker’s Apprentice, Ghostgirl and newly slated doc ‘To The Ends of the Earth’.

Zoe and Dave attended a dozen or so quickfire, 20minute meetings with everyone from Tribeca (DeNiro’s baby!) to Protagonist Pictures (distributors of ‘Searching for Sugarman’ and ‘The Imposter’), while I scoped out the festival itself, feasting on a brilliant mix of short films, documentaries, Q&A feature sessions and workshops. Sadly we missed all the masterclasses (Acting with Zachary Quinto, Screenwriting with Daniel Waters, Directing with Julian Fellowes – they don’t do these things by halves!), mainly because we couldn’t seem to find information about when and where they were on…But apart from that, the festival was superb.

The Rowing Club on the River Corrib, Galway

The Rowing Club on the River Corrib, Galway

Of course, the endless sunshine and soaring 30deg temperatures were a bonus, but Galway in itself is a great town – considerably busier and more vibrant than we’d anticipated, set beautifully by the River Corrib leading into the Atlantic. Some parts feel nostalgically small town Ireland, while other, newer areas are contemporary and cosmopolitan. If you’re willing to wander off the beaten track and investigate, the food to be found is fanTAStic… always a bonus for us three, who are complete foodies! *slips off into gastro-induced reverie*

But back to the festival. Screenings were split across four venues – two screens in the Galway IMC, one in the Town Hall Theatre and, rather brilliantly, one in the ‘Cinemobile’- essentially a pop up, 100 SEAT cinema, in a truck! Yes, we want one now.
The screening programme was extremely well put together across the 6 day event: a package of short films every day, dozens of features with a healthy mix of animation, documentary and world cinema, plenty of ‘Members of Cast/Crew in Attendance’ screenings, and several high profile introductions and Q&As.

'Heroes' and 'Star Trek' star Zachary Quinto introduces surprise film 'All is Lost'

‘Heroes’ and ‘Star Trek’ star Zachary Quinto introduces surprise film ‘All is Lost’

Also, with it being the 25th Fleadh, there was a special event mid week – a ‘Surprise Screening’. None of the audience knew what they were going to watch but were told only that it was going to be something special… And special it was! Zachary Quinto came onstage and introduced the latest, brilliant feature from his new ‘Before The Door’ production company – the utterly compelling, intense one man drama ‘All Is Lost’ by JC Chandor and starring Robert Redford, which had only previously been shown at Cannes.

Zachary Quinto in conversation with Gar O'Brien after 'Margin Call'

Zachary Quinto in conversation with Gar O’Brien after ‘Margin Call’

Zachary, who, just 15 years ago, worked in a cafe in Galway, was present over the course of the whole festival. He took part in a Star Trek Q&A screening the day we arrived, ran the Acting workshop and participated in another Q&A after the screening of the excellent ‘Margin Call’ – the first film he produced with ‘Before the Door’ and also JC Chandor’s writer/Director debut. This was one of our favourite films of the festival, and the Q&A was insightful, candid and inspiring – we were especially gobsmacked to learn the film went into production just a year after Zachary first read the script, was made for just $3m and was shot in 17 days, with Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons only coming on board two days before they were due on set… Astonishing achievement!

Other highlights of the fest for us were:

  • Disney Pixar short films package, from ‘Luxor JNR’ all the way thru to this year’s ‘Blue Umbrella’ (Disney shorts are a masterclass in Story – not to mention being absolute works of art)
  • ‘We Steal Secrets’ – the bizarre & compelling story of Wikileaks
  • ‘Plot for Peace’ – a beautifully crafted and extremely important otherwise untold story about one of modern history’s most important ‘players’, the extra-ordinary, humbling Jean-Yves Ollivier (who was also present on the night) – whose determined and selfless actions led in part to the release of Nelson Mandela, amongst other things!
  • The ACE Nightmare Scenario workshop, case study on the ‘The Invention of Love’ with Producer Herbert Schwering, who was forced to shut down production when his lead actress was found dead mid-shoot; he somehow managed, with his team, to “devise a way of turning the catastrophe into a new project, a new film built on both the original story and the story of the disaster itself.”
  • Public Interview with Soairse Ronan, followed by screening of ‘Hanna’ in which she played lead role. Just 19years old and already a rising megastar, this gal is grounded, funny, intelligent and incredibly endearing. And Dave wants her for his next short film… ha! The interview was brilliant and it was fab to see ‘Hanna’ on the big screen again.

Special mention, too, to the brief but hilarious Q&A with Daniel Waters, following screening of cult 1980s black comedy and his first big feature ‘Heathers’.

All in all, a fab time had by all. We’re fired up and inspired for our own IOM minifest this year, bursting with ideas for next year’s considerably bigger IOM fest (for Island of Culture 2014) and, with our DAM hats on, are excited to progress our own projects and get them out to the industry. So, thanks Film Fleadh, hope to see you next year!

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MannIN Shorts Film Festival – The Return..!

We’re excited to announce our dates for this year’s Festival –

SEPTEMBER 13th-15th 2013

It’s to be held again at the beautiful Broadway Cinema in Douglas, with various events (panel discussions, workshops, Young Filmmaker of Mann etc) to be held in and around the main screenings.

We’re also currently setting up the festival on Withoutabox.com with a view to inviting entries to a limited international shorts competition – we’ll keep you posted as and when this is rolling.

So, lots of details to follow of course, but for now, keep the date in your diaries and hope to see you there!


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A jam-packed year of mini moviemaking!

As we wave a wistful goodbye to 2012, and say a hearty hello to 2013, we’ve been reflecting on the past 12months and what we’ve been up to in the MShorts camp.

Although we remained unfunded as a training scheme, that didn’t stop us from holding a whole load of great workshops, producing several fab short films and even from holding our first ever Film Festival! It wasn’t what you would call ‘easy’… but was nonetheless achieved – with the help of DAM Productions and their various helpful filmmaker friends from both the Isle of Man and further afield, and with support from the ever encouraging Isle of Man Arts Council. As with most no-to-low-budget films, the struggles along the way only made it all the more satisfying when we saw the fruits of our collective labours.

We sound a bit like a party political broadcast! We’ll stop that now, promise 🙂

The lidl bit of money we had left in the PokerStars pot at the start of the year meant we were able to hold workshops in Scriptwriting (with Danny Stack), Producing on a Budget (with Danny Lacey), Storyboarding (with Juan Moore), and Directing (with Lesley Manning). All were very well attended and extremely useful. Later in the year, as part of the MannIN Shorts Isle of Man Film Festival (funded by the Arts Council), we also held a one day workshop with TV screenwriter and creator of Sky One’s ‘Trollied’, Anne Marie O’Connor, and an Acting & Directing workshop with Lee Boardman and Raff Degruttola.

To round off the year, Dave Armstrong and John Craine (who first worked together in 2010 on short film ‘Ghostgirl‘) held the first in what will be a series of workshops about the art of Cinematography.

In 2013, we hope to be able to hold workshops in Sound Recording and Sound Design, Editing, various Post Production techniques and much more.

We also held some workshops with a difference… for the under 18s! We were invited to run the 2012 IOM Arts Development Summer Film School over two weeks in August, and taught the students everything from how to make a prop weapon, to how create convincing fake injuries. And when we weren’t doing gruesome stuff, there was practical filmmaking on the side too 😉 Every pupil was involved in making their own short film, all of which were shown on the final day at a special public premiere.

Three more of our ‘finalist’ short films were produced in 2012 – “I Do” (wr. Zoe Guilford), “Closet” (wr. John Craine) and “Solace in Wicca” (wr. Nathan Russell-Raby / Andy North). All were produced entirely on Island, with a good mix of professional and trainee crew members and were only possible with the fantastic support of the Isle of Man Arts Council, Manx Heritage Foundation/CinemaNX (for ‘Solace in Wicca’) and the people of the Island, who gave their time, their skills, their vehicles – and even their homes!

Both “I Do” and “Hide & Seek” (the first film to be made within the scheme, in 2011), received their first public screenings at the 2012 Film Festival, with the audience also being treated to sneak previews of ‘Closet’ and ‘Solace’. All were extremely well received, and each with fabulous posters designed by Bruno Cavellec, and will be submitted to the international festival circuit in the New Year.

Also in 2012, our crews produced their ‘Scene Stealer Challenge‘ shorts – scenes from ‘The Graduate’ and ‘The Shining’, which they had to faithfully reproduce in as much details as possible in order to learn about every aspect of the filmmaking process, from acting to design to lighting to composition to… you get the picture! The results were incredible, and were shown to a panel of industry experts at the: –

We held the inaugural MShorts Film Festival in August, opening with the Isle of Man Film Q&A Screening of ‘The Heart of Me’ with Producer Martin Pope and writer Lucinda Coxon; workshops throughout the weekend; An Evening with the Independents (with Phil Hawkins, Danny Lacey, Raff Degruttola and Lee Boardman previewing and discussing their work); and closing with our MannIN Shorts night, with the premieres of Manx Made films, the Scene Stealer Challenge Competition and more. It was a huge success, and we already have major plans for 2013, so mark September 13th to 15th in your diaries!

ALSO IN 2012…
Our MShorts trained crews and advisors/supporters were busy on various additional film projects over the year: short films ‘A Dashed Inconvenience’ by Ady Hall; ‘No Kissing’ by John Craine and Will Sutton; ‘Espresso‘ by Christopher Whitlow and most recently ‘Amy’s Choice’ by Bev Lawley, Dave Armstrong and John Craine. More on all of those in 2013.

Also, long time MShorts supporter and filmmaker Emily Cook started her ‘Film Focus with Reel Vision’ series on Manx Radio. Part of Ashlea Tracey’s Saturday evening programme, Emily has already interviewed Bev Lawley of Ex Isle Casting, Danny Lacey, John Craine, and both Dave and Christy (MShorts founders) and has plans for plenty more programmes that will highlight the excitement of filmmaking on the tiny Isle, so be sure to tune in next year!

And so, to 2013!
As we weren’t able to secure the funding we needed to run the scheme the way we had envisaged, we sadly won’t be able to fund any film projects in the coming year. But that isn’t to stop filmmakers going after any available funding themselves, of course! And  with all of the training we’ve been fortunate to be able to offer this past two years, we’re hoping there will be plenty of projects on the cards.

For us, we have the continuation of the Film Festival, a number of proposed Film Schools for the under 18s, and plans for various new workshops as per above. So watch this space in 2013 for plenty more mini-film excitement on Mann!

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