Commonwealth Games starts race for film prize

The 100 metres has already inspired prominent film industry figures to create new work. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The 100 metres has already inspired prominent film industry figures to create new work. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THEY are shorter than most trailers, let alone most movies. But they will act as a showcase for new talent from around the world when all eyes are on Glasgow next year.

A creative challenge inspired by the Commonwealth Games is asking filmmakers to produce a piece of work that lasts less than ten seconds.

Taking its time limit from the 100 metres record for the Games set by Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Boldon in 1998, the 9.88 Films initiative is one of the most unique fixtures of the Glasgow 2013 Cultural Programme.

Entries to the “ultra short filmmaking” contest, supported by Channel 4 and Creative Scotland, will be judged by some of Britain’s leading film talent. Jury members of the jury include Paul McGuigan, director of the hit BBC series, Sherlock, and films including Lucky Number Slevin and Gangster No. 1, and Iain Smith, who has produced films such as Children Of Men and The Fifth Element.

Other prominent industry figures including Mark Cousins, the director and critic, and award-winning Scottish director Morag McKinnon have already submitted films to give prospective filmmakers an idea of what they can create.

Although the contest has been inspired by this summer’s sporting spectacle, films can cover any subject or theme and use any form of moving image. The organisers say “all you need to get started are a camera and an idea”.

Eileen Gallagher, the television veteran who co-founded Shed Productions, which produced successful programmes such as Footballer’s Wives, Waterloo Road and Hope Springs, said the challenge is accessible to all. Gallagher, who is an independent director on the board of Glasgow 2014 and chair of its ceremonies, culture and Queen’s baton relay committee, said: “9.88 Films is a fascinating part of the cultural programme which will inspire and challenge anyone who wants to make a short film to captivate us in the same time as the 100 metres Commonwealth record.

“Filmmakers of all abilities and from every Commonwealth country can take part, making this one of the most exciting and accessible projects which make up the Glasgow 2014 cultural programme.”

Stuart Cosgrove, director of creative diversity at Channel 4 and chair of the jury panel, said the advent of new technology and apps like Vine and Instagram, which allow people to make short films, could help usher in a new wave of talent.

He said: “Limitations and constraints can often be the key to creativity. It needs to be a very simple idea, one that is brilliantly realised and has a touch of imagination.

“Recent years have seen ultra short forms of content – tweets, gifs and ever shorter films – become an accessible form of mainstream communications. The web and short form sites and apps like Vimeo and Vine have revolutionised the way short-form films are circulated, embedded in places like Facebook or simply shared via e-mail. It’s led to an upsurge in ‘just-do-it’ film-making where the challenge is finding the best among many.

“We wanted to take that idea and show that short form doesn’t limit creativity or the creation of great works of art, and that making films can be simple and unintimidating.

“We’re hoping to discover some great new talent via 9.88 Films and show the world what can be done in just ten seconds. Just like the 100 metres final – ultra-short films can be truly captivating.

The jury also includes Beeban Kidron, director of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; Christopher Young, producer of The Inbetweeners Movie as well as the Channel 4 series of the same name; and Robert Florence, the comedian and writer best known for co-writing and co-starring in the BBC Scotland comedy, Burnistoun.

Cousins’s example film, Tree, is a single shot of a tree at night, with an inspirational quote from The Birth of a Nation director DW Griffith. Florence’s film, The Time Machine – Bold Yin, is a humorous take on time travel.

Jurors will choose three winners and a special student prize. Awards include the chance for the film to be screened on Channel 4 and at events around the Games, as well as filmmaking equipment. Prize winners will get pre-­feature film screenings in ­cinemas ­including Glasgow Film Theatre, the Edinburgh Filmhouse and Dundee ­Contemporary Arts.

The contest is accepting entries until 9 April. For further details and to view some of the films that have been submitted so far, visit the 9.88 Films website at