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netribution > features > interview with short film bureau > page two

Clifford - Do you have some kind of quality control on the films you want to distribute?
Kim Leggatt -
With the cinema programs we like to have films with a 35mm print available because if the distributor wants to pick it up they need to know if you've got a print that they can have. We've now extended that to films that can be blown up if the funds are available, if the distributor wants to see it. A lot of the time a facilities house will actually sponsor the print if they know it will be released. So when we look at films there is a quality control in as much as, we've worked with the distributors in the past two years to find out what they want to see, so we've put in films that we think are going to be picked up. We also put in a few wild cards to constantly gauge what distributors are looking for.On the whole there is a quality control because if we put in films with a weak structure it will pull down every other film in there. We have to keep the quality high so that the industry knows from that catalogue that these are the best short films going out.

Clifford - Can you give us any tips? What is it that distributors like?
Kim - Most distributors look at short films theatrically, as warm up acts, mainstream distributors I mean, like Odeon, ABC etc. They are mostly looking for high production values, good stories of about 10 to 12 minutes long that are more light hearted than serious or down beat. They need shorts that will leave their audience on a high rather than a low, so if you want distributors to pick up your short it really need to be comic, fun material. That's the big thing at the moment, they are all looking for good comedy writers and directors for short films and feature films. If you can do comedy then you are onto a winner.Doug - Just to pick up on a note about the scripts. Audiences in particular and, therefore, distributors are very, very critical of shorts. People seem to have a lot less tolerance for films of 10 minutes than they for 90 minutes. Audiences are so critical, even with 10 minutes you still have to have a solid story and this whole issue of, 'how do we make money from films? what's going to be picked up?' etc. It al comes down to the same issue. Its got to be a good story. Its got to have good production values. Its got to have a nice beginning, middle and end, an upturn. Even if it is a down beat subject, to leave the audience down isn't responded to well.

Clifford - Is there a difference between more artistic, festival winning shorts and the mainstream shorts? Which is more likely to be released in cinemas?
Kim -
In fact, most of the ones we get are festival winners anyway but there is definitly a case for arthouse. At the moment, in this country, fewer distributors are looking for arthouse because they like a safe bet, its a shame they do. The lottery franchises are probably the only people concentrating on arthouse work. So, if you are making arthouse films you need to target the independent cinemas rather than distributors, you can get a good reputation from this avenue that will eventually get back to distributors anyway.Doug - Its a very good question and its an issue that we like to address with every filmmaker we talk to. We ask why you are making the films you are making? What are you attempting to do with it? Its all very well having a good idea but where does that fit in with your career path? I always ask whether you are trying to be the next David Cronenberg or the next Steven Spielberg. Both are legitimate, both have an audience but you need to understand where you are trying to go. This need to be considered before you start filming or spending anyone's money because, if you are attempting to fit into both categories you will end up with something that fits into neither.

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