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netribution > features > interview with short film bureau > page one
Kim Leggatt and Doug Miller of the Short Film Bureau were interviewed by the omnipresent Clifford Thurlow at Peeping Toms on the 16th of February on how they go about distributing short films and what a short filmmaker should aim for (regarding concept) to better their chances of success. This was preceded by a very amusing and informative interview with the riotous scriptwriter and novelist, Terrence Doyle whom I persuaded to give a more concentrated talk at a later date. That interview is this week's Coffee Break. For now, Kim and Doug have some very beneficial pearls of wisdom for everyone at the lower end of a thriving market.

| by clifford thurlow for Peeping Toms |
| photos by tom fogg|
| in london |

Clifford Thurlow - How long have you been running and how did the bureau come about?
Doug Miller - We started the bureau two years ago as a non profit organisation to address, what we saw as, a shortcoming in the film industry. At the time the film policy review group was spewing forth piles of rhetoric about what we needed to do to be more globally competitive, which basically amounted to giving more money to US distributors. We haven't figured that one out yet! We listened to what was being said and there seemed to be something missing fundamentally and that's the next generation of indigenous filmmakers. Creatively and technically the UK film industry is the best in the world, everybody comes here to make films only to take them over to the States to market them back into the UK. So, there is something missing and that is a very solid understanding of the business processes of the film industry: the industry side of the industry. We wanted to do something about that so we set up the Bureau to specifically address the commercial aspects of filmmaking for new and emerging filmmakers. We looked at the whole process and we found all these fantastic filmmakers who were making very good films but those films are, like many of our feature films, sitting on shelves.
So is we divide the filmmaking process into three: Development, production distribution/exhibition, the biggest stumbling block for short filmmakers is exhibition. 1984 saw the end os short films screened on a regular basis in the cinemas so we thought, lets first get those shorts back into cinemas. That reopens the market place, that leads to participation in the market place and we get to really experience what the market forces are. Through that experience we can all start to learn what these dynamics are. We can apply the market dynamics of features to shorts. People can then understand why they are making the films they are making and not just saying, 'I've got an idea creatively.' We put in place the cinema program last july to get shorts back into the mainstream cinemas. We then got an agreement from all the distributors that they would review short films which would mean setting quite established criteria and those criteria are on our site.We are now looking at ways of applying the same commercial considerations and principles into projects on the production side as well. Which is not saying that we have a large pot of money to produce short films.

Clifford - What about blow up prints to 35mm?
Doug - We do not have any money. We are endeavouring to help answer questions like that and to put you in touch with people who may be able to provide you with the money to do that. Like I said, we are trying to get some funding to address some of these are issues. At the end of the day, there is an even greater deficit of funds with the move to the Film Council as I am sure you are all aware.

Clifford - So you do have an advice service?
Doug -
To address all of these issues we put in place the web site and we hope it can act as an information portal. That's really what the Bureau is al about, we are trying to provide as much information on the short film business as we possibly can. That and trying to raise the indigenous filmmakers to the position to make feature films.

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