Meet The Judges (part two)

In the next in our series of “Meet the Judges” Q&A’s we chat to Giles Edwards from Metrodome about what he is looking for in this years short film entries.

MEET THE JUDGES – Giles Edwards
Head of Acquisitions Metrodome

Giles photo

Can you explain a little about what you do on a day to day basis?
As Head Of Acquisitions for Metrodome, I’m responsible for acquiring between 50-60 titles per year ranging from high end Theatrical features such as THE FALLING, MOMMY, FRANCES HA and THE NEW GIRLFRIEND, elevated genre product for Home Ent release like THE INNKEEPERS, SPRING, FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS series and a range of acclaimed arthouse, docs, indie and festival titles for release across the breadth of platforms in the UK. In additional, we have an in-house International Sales division and Production arm which is ramping up a (smaller) slate of more-genre centric projects (our most recent title THEA has just finished shooting and is about to launch its furious post-production phase). So a day can be any number of items from a multiple choice list that includes: reading scripts, pitches, trade announcements and researching/following up/chasing down projects, giving script or rough cut notes, screening, travelling, running finance plans, negotiating and contracting with producers, sales agents and filmmakers, formulating the make-up of the year’s slate. Breathless, diverse & enormously pleasurable/frustrating/rewarding/exhausting/fascinating.

What do you love about short films that makes them different to features?
Two things really: firstly, I’m a die-hard genre guy and the template laid down by EC Comics and Rod Serling and Richard Matheson and their ilk in story terms — sharp shocking, sub-textually loaded — is something that bakes my noodle in the best possible way. A neat, twisted idea laid out with lethal precision and then flipped around with a mordant, whiplash-inducing glee is something that’s super tough to do in a 90 minute feature for anyone but the most genius-level screenwriter. I love the achievable immediacy of that in short films of all levels and budgets. It’s just fun, fiendish and smart.

But away from pure genre, the breadth of ideas that is able to be conveyed without the restrictions of a traditional “commercial” narrative paradigm is often hugely refreshing, surprising and delightful. For instance, a feature film like Leos Carax’s HOLY MOTORS comes along and blows everyone away during a narrative feature competition like Cannes full of more “conventional” stories but that film’s really an extrapolation of the best kind of short film ethos: pure ideas, furiously envisaged concepts, flashes of genius poured out in a flurry of creative and technical passion unconstrained by formal expectations.

lgend of beaver damTell me about a recent short film you enjoyed and why?
My favourite short film of recent years (maybe ever, actually) is a crazy heavy metal musical horror comedy called THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM which won myriad short film festival strands in 2012/13. It starts out as a riff on ‘80s campfire tale horror and ends up like Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE. It was cheaply made but with such verve and utter commitment it’s impossible not to see pure cinema in every frame (someone very learned once said that the most pure forms of cinema are slapstick, horror and musical: this is all three.)

What makes a good short film?
What makes a good short film is no different from what makes a good feature: story sense, technical ability and invention and tangible emotion. Glossy or scrappy, frantic or measured, grandiose or punk rock: it just has to feel cinematic and that the filmmaker knows exactly what they’re doing in every frame, with every cut.

What will you be looking for in this years shortlisted entries?
The ability to surprise in storytelling; a deeply ingrained sense of the frame, shot composition and mise en scene and drawing terrific performances from actors — all of which, it should be noted, cost *nothing* in budgetary terms but are *everything* in terms of displaying filmmaking ability. Basically, I want to be sucker-punched by something that makes me desperate to see how they can translate that ability to a feature-length project.

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