Finally the online Premiere of The POW! Please enjoy and share :)
Almost a year to the day since premiering at the 2012 Keswick Film Fest, my first film ‘The POW’ has now come to the end of it’s festival life. But far from being an anticlimax I have three fine ways to celebrate…
#1. Oh Canada…
About 40 days ago a package left the lovely people at Barrie Film Festival, Ontario, Canada. I’ve been having fun tracking the parcel and imagining it braving the stormy high seas and hectic postal depots - and today it finally arrived; packed with t-shirts, festival programs a gleaming trophy and $300 cash prize for Best Cinematography :)
It’s a really special prize because for me creating the story, the character, everything is a visual process… so to win Best Cinematography in competition against beautifully shot short films like Luminaris is a real honour.
#2. Winning Gold…
On Saturday my second festival film - ‘Romance of the Skies’ won the Gold Osprey Award at the 2013 Keswick Film Festival. Screened to a packed audience including John Hurt it’s just a shame I couldn’t be there.
Romance of the Skies is a completely different sort of film - a music video following the adventures and misadventures of a pioneer air pilot as he flies his way around the world. I’d heard the single by unsigned London band This Sporting LIfe and pitched the idea to lead singer, actor and fellow northerner Matthew Hopkinson who was a truly good sport and we shot the whole thing in front of greenscreen in my front room.
#3. Free at last…
It’s finally time to post ‘The POW’ online for it’s public Internet premiere tomorrow night. The trailer’s now had almost 5,000 views on YouTube so it’ll be great at last to see the full film opened up to that massive new audience - and readers of this blog! Please set aside 10 minutes, turn up the sound and set your player to fullscreen HD… and please share the link with friends. ‘The POW’ (the full short film)
So - there we have it. The POW finally escapes from festivals into the big wide world… but the blog will continue with news of other film projects, festivals and maybe, just maybe, a POW sequel. Stay tuned ;)
It was 6 a.m Sunday morning when we got in from the first day of screenings which had progressed to a genteel midnight afterparty, and then a loud all-nighter at club Kantine. Despite the early hour my delightful host, Anna F, set about making a cheesecake for the festival’s cafe/bar which would be opening up for day two’s screenings in several hours time. After a relaxing cup of tea and large glass of water I decided it would be wise to get a couple of hours sleep before daybreak. The beers, bottles of iced tea with vodka, and numerous shots of Agwa and Jagermeister (courtesy of my fine host Matthias) didn’t bode well for a good head later that morning - but what a great night!
I’d flown into Zurich on Friday and an easy transfer via an hours train journey had brought me across the Swiss/German border to the ancient lakeside university city of Konstanz (aka Constance). I’d planned the flight so I’d arrive with an afternoon to kill just walking around the wonderful old town in the crisp, cold air, and Anna had recommended taking in the views from the cathedral tower (I climbed the vertigo inducing ancient stairs to have the life scared out of me when the massive church bell went off just as I reached the top).
The festival has to be one of Europre’s friendliest… from being picked up at the station by Anna F and given a room to sleep in at her flat, then her flatmates Jessi and Matthias always making sure I had something to eat or drink, and knew were I was going, and Anna E; festival director who I met in town on Friday night for beers and regional/seasonal onion cake! I can’t see how the bigger film festivals could ever compete with such hospitality.
photo by Konstanzer KurzFilmSpiele
The screenings themselves ran on the Saturday and Sunday with an international selection of shorts. The quality of sound and HD projection was second to none in this pop-up festival housed in the Neuwerk Kunsthalle, an old factory reborn as a hub for the city’s creative businesses and community. A perfect venue with a keen sold out audience of 160 - despite the onset of the winter’s first snow - and a cafe/bar stocked with copious home made snacks and cakes.
photo by Konstanzer KurzFilmSpiele
Visiting film directors all got an opportunity for a brief Q&A after their screenings; the question ‘Why a war movie?’ made me feel more than a little awkward, and defensively I explained it’s not a war movie… ‘and besides’ I continued ‘all the villains are British’ - no doubt my embarrassment was obvious and so that got a laugh.
The screenings continued till late evening before a wonderfully intimate social at The Zebra Cinema club where a late midnight supper of pumpkin soup, pork schnitzel and quiche really hit the spot… chatting away with prolific German shorts producer Roland Fischer and animators Sebastian and Kate who went on to win second prize for their beautifully animated short “1/2” (beating even the Oscar nominated “Luminaris”).
Sunday morning and I start the day with Jessi’s pretzels straight from the oven and the first ‘preview’ slice of Anna F’s sumptuous cheesecake (I get treated cause I have a flight to catch and can’t make it to the day’s screenings). It’s an opportunity to spend a slow morning with new friends - some more hung over than others. Lunch in the old town with Matthias, Sebastian and Kate is finally followed by a train through bleak white fields and hills to Zurich airport where a blizzard obscures the runway. Even so, the planes keep coming and going and I’m pleased to be flying Swiss Air; surely they have plenty of experience of flying in snow?
Saturday 27th Oct and I’m spoilt for choice with invitations to short film festivals in both Bucharest (Romania) and Konstanz (Germany). So which should I accompany my short ‘The POW’ too?… big city, big fest (200 shorts) vs small city, friendly fest (42 shorts).
I mean wow; Bucharest. It seems like no time since I was glued to the TV watching the revolution in progress; all those flags with cut out centres and the tension of crowds facing down the Stasi. And now I read Romania’s ticking the boxes to join the Eurozone! Revolutions feel so distant with the Arab Spring etc but when I was an adventurous teenager, just starting to travel; eastern europe was full of it.
And then there’s Konstanz - a beautiful and welcoming little city bordered by lakes and mountains, forests and ancient castles. I’ve been offered somewhere to stay and can’t help but think maybe small festivals might be better for making good contacts… and it’s the German premiere - given my short’s set in Germany and that I’m a bit of a Deutschophile I think I have to concede there’s something about the Bundesrepublik…
Well - this evening I bit the bullet, got out my plastic and bought a Friday flight out from Manchester to Zurich… then an hour’s train and you guessed it - I hop off on the lapping shores of Bodensee (aka Lake Constance) for the Konstanz festival. Do I wish I was going to Bucharest? Damn right I do… but the draw of using my faltering few words of German is too strong (and oh to be near the mountains!). So in a couple of days I’ll be heading off to golden autumn sunshine through russet leaves, ryebread cheese and salami for breakfast, late nights of drinking true German larger and enthusing with like-minded filmmakers… another grand little adventure.
Today’s kind of special. The POW’s been screening at festivals since February; Moscow in the spring, Dublin in the summer, and now coincidentally the first two international screenings of the autumn are today… kind of weird that they’re both this evening but cause one’s in Cyprus (GMT+3hrs) and one’s in Barrie, Ontario (GMT-4hrs) the first happened while I was having afternoon tea, and the next doesn’t happen till I’m snuggled up fast asleep in bed.
But coincidence doesn’t end there… this evening I find another surprise waiting in my email; notification of The POW’s 5th international festival selection at Konstanz Short Film Festival, on Bodensee (Lake Constance) Germany.
I’m delighted to have an affinity with Bodensee; when I was 18 I hitchhiked around Germany for a month and after a serendipitous lift/ride/hitch I spent a wonderful week in the area with a local family. We stayed in touch and I went back several years later to see them again. Now maybe 15 years after that we’re a bit hit and miss at staying in touch but more than anyone (except maybe Lizzy - but that’s another story) they made me feel at home in Germany and made the country a special place for me. Ever since then I’ve been rather a deutschophile.
Little surprise then that my first attempt at short film (which has been gathering dust ever since it’s edit several years ago) was set in contemporary Germany. Then of course there’s The POW, set… you guessed it… and there’s a strong possibility there will be a similar connection in my next film.
Thanks for getting int touch - I really hope you enjoy the movie. It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to share it! And it’d be great to hear what people like/love/hate about it… I wish I could eavesdrop on all the conversations amongst the audience afterwards! Sorry I can’t make it.
Great to hear via email this morning from Barrie Film Festival. My short film ‘The POW’ is screening with 17 other shorts and 25(?) features at the 9 day long festival. The screening will surprisingly be the same day as my short screens at the Cyprus International Film Fest in Nicosia.
So true to form as soon as I heard I did a little digging to find out how much fun this Barrie Film Fest looks like, so I can beat myself up about not being able to go :( …and sure enough it looks fantastic - friendly, well organised, diverse… they deliver courses with parter Laurentian University, have a program of outdoor screenings in the summer - and of course a load of parties!
A quick wiki search showed Barrie to have the same population (c134,000) as my home town of Lancaster (UK), and although I think of Canada as terribly northern it’s actually about 700 miles south of me (not to mention 3,700 miles west)… so I might not be hopping on a bus there but if you’re in the Toronto area this October I’d love for you to go see it and let me know how you get on ;)
On a less intelligent note I feel Barrie Film Fest must be a terribly important festival on the circuit because of the inevitable yet entirely spurious connection to film score composer John Barry OBE, and to the UK’s much loved film critic Barry Norman CBE. Like I say… an emotional rather than a critical response there.
The shorts are being screened at the Imperial Cinema on Saturday 13th October. Hopefully they’ll have put out the fire by then.
Thanks to Susan at DiffusionPhotographics.com for letting me use the second two images from last years festival :)
Barrie Film Fest website:http://www.barriefilmfestival.ca/bff.html
The POW screens in it’s Irish premiere on Friday night at The Factory 6pm… I’ve been wrestling with the options of getting flights and nipping out there for a couple of days; but it looks like it won’t be possible.
Darklight is Ireland’s leading film festival for indie film, animation and vfx.
The POW is scheduled to be screened at the Cine Studio, Nicosia on Sat 13th Oct - one of the main venues and right in the middle of the two week Cyprus International Film Festival. Not sure whether I’ll be able to go or not yet - though UKTI are still being good enough to support me and possible international development opportunities (so thanks due there).
Just to share with you a bit of flavour here’s a bunch of pictures from last year’s festival and of the ‘Cine Studio’ venue…
(photos half-inched from CYIFF, cyprus.com and mediazone/UNIC).