Taking Chances has marked the beginning of a wonderful journey. It spurred me on towards directing and producing and has been a lesson in being pro-active about my work. Many things have happened since that first shooting, none of which would have been otherwise possible.
After Taking Chances was completed, it took me a while to decide on the best way to promote it. The short was originally meant as a test for my directing and producing skills but the good feedback received from all the people involved in the 50 kisses film project –for which the script was originally written and nearly missed being a part of- made me rethink my strategy. After the 50 kisses film was released I realised there were a lot of things I could do to promote Taking Chances that I hadn't tried yet. I decided to try the festival route- even if on a small scale due to budget limitations- and was soon rewarded with my first festival screening.
Taking Chances made its big screen début at the Rob Knox Film Festival in June last year, being very well received. More festivals soon followed. Every time, I was blown away by the quality of the shorts that were selected alongside mine. This- culminating with Taking Chances winning the best “short” short category at the Screen Stockport Film Festival last October- was the best validation I could have ever asked for.
As well as the obvious advantages of exposure and validation, for me the greatest benefits of having Taking Chances screened in various festivals around the U.K. came with attending them. It’s now becoming increasingly important for emerging film-makers to be able to engage with the public. Attending festivals gave me plenty of practice: from introducing my short at the Witney Film Festival "best of the best" screening to the post-screening Q&A at the Century Film Festival...although nothing could have prepared me for the amazing feeling of collecting an award from the great independent film-maker Carol Morley in front of an audience of 600 hundred people- and many of them fellows film-makers!
Getting first-hand feedback from the public and experiencing the audience reaction was also invaluable. Taking Chances has now been exposed to a very varied audience demographic- and has been very well received by all. A fellow film-maker will know: you can tell by the audience reaction if your short has been well received. As you are waiting in apprehension for their clapping-or lack of it-during the ending titles- no matter how many times my short is screened I always get butterflies in my stomach- you can hear the difference between polite acknowledgement and real appreciation- and if it is the latter- it really feels you with joy and it’s a prize in itself.
Reaching out to the general public and realising my work might have a broader appeal than what I had originally thought was very gratifying but so was the recognition from fellow film-makers. The festivals talks and events offered plenty of opportunities for networking and helped me in increasing my knowledge of the film industry and gaining some very useful contacts. An encounter at the Rob Knox Film Festival has already led to a new opportunity: my first comedy radio sketch will be on air soon onMiskin Radio. Watch this space for more news!
In short, my festival journey has been a great lesson in self-promotion and networking and an experience I will treasure, not only for its practical benefits but as a source of inspiration for continuing with my work.