The 6th reed.co.uk Short Film Awards

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by Michael Anderson

The reed.co.uk Short Film Awards have been running since 2009 and offer a vital financial and networking fillip to those nominated. This year almost 600 entries around the theme of “The Question” were whittled down to a highly accomplished shortlist of 12: 36 minutes of beginnings, middles and ends, with laughs, tears and shocks throughout. The production values on all of the 12 are hugely professional, the collective sense of wringing every last drop from limited budgets and resource palpable: when Ben Mankin, collecting his Best Young Filmmaker prize for origami heart-warmer Corner to Corner, mentioned that he’d shot the whole thing in a day, the gasps of admiration and mutual respect were audible. Five awards in a field of 12 may seem like overkill but you cannot begrudge the recognition and visibility the evening will hopefully offer the victors.

In a brief introduction, Chair of the Reed Group James Reed, whose wife Nicola founded the awards and remains on the panel of judges, touched on the bill footed by his company and indeed the growing number of prizes, noting through gritted teeth that the judges “felt moved to spend even more of our money” with the introduction of a new Special Commendation (won by teenaged Sixth Form friends Jamie Coe and Gabriel Steele for their well-judged mockumentary The Question). Reed later qualified just why reed.co.uk continues with the initiative, in order to support “creativity, youth and Britain”, suggesting that big businesses do not always need glossy impact reports to justify philanthropy: “Sometimes you just have to do something because it feels right.” The last five years have been a good time for the recruitment industry and it was gratifying to feel that some of that is put back into supporting careers for which job websites aren’t much use.

That said, from the unavoidable logos to ironically cheered senior personnel dishing out a few of the awards, the evening never quite shook off the musky whiff of corporate ‘do, early cheers from film-makers and loved ones/supporters so paltry as to suggest the remaining seats of the packed BAFTA auditorium were filled entirely by champagned reed.co.uk employees. This of course clearly did not matter to the shortlisted 12, and nor should it: previous winners have moved on to TV, advertising, and even features, with reed.co.uk putting its mouth where its mouth is by awarding several high-profile TV ads to early winners.

Other winners this year presumably hoping for a comparable career bounce included Carolyn Goodyear’s slightly twee but basically lovely The Sesquipedalianist (winner of The Judges’ Commendation) and Peter, Chris Cronin’s hard-boiled sweet of fairytale revisionism which carried off the People’s Choice Award. The judges clearly knew their onions, however – worthy Grand Prix winner Andrew Lee Potts (who took home £10,000) triumphed for his lovely Photo Finish, a simple concept beautifully executed with a cast comprising his sister and brother-in-law, well worth three minutes of your time.

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