Harris. James Harris

This Saturday morning I was running round the basement of Newcastle’s Discovery Museum in a tuxedo and a shoulder holster pretending to be James Bond. I realise it’s the unlikeliest bit of Bond casting since Woody Allen got the gig, but goodness me it was fun.

They have rooms full of dead animals in that basement, and poisoned darts brought back from Captain Cooks voyages which are still contaminated with arsenic and other exotically painful death-lubes so strictly speaking eating down there was a) absolutely forbidden and b) potentially fatal. Glad I didn’t have to eat the crisps!

The 30 second extravanganza was written by Dave Jewell and directed by John AC Alllen for the Doritos King of Ads competition. I hope it does well for them both.

Stingers 2009 Launched

NFM have quietly launched Stingers 2009, their lottery-funded new filmmakers scheme. Only 6 films being made this time.


Stingers Digital Short Film Scheme is broken into two strands this year – Mini-Stingers and Maxi-Stingers. Mini Stingers is open to new writing and directing talent. 3 short films will be made through the mini-stingers strand for a budget of £7,500 per film. Maxi Stingers is open to writers and directors with more experience. 3 short films will be made through the Maxi-Stingers strand with a budget of £12,500 per film.

A Good Day

I ran a four hour film challenge in Saltburn today. 4 groups of schoolkids, 4 film makers and four hours to make 4 short films, from script to screen.

It was inspiring. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. I know I did. We had a grand screening of the films this evening and they were… of variable quality, as you’d expect, but they all had their moments and one of them was hilarious, with kettle-related violence and some truly mental dialogue. The kids were so proud of themselves, as well they should have been.

It got me thinking about film making again. What with one thing and another I haven’t felt able to devote any energy to the film stuff for quite a while, but watching the enthusiasm and creativity of those kids today…

I miss it. I think it’s time to step it up again.

Stingers call for entries

Northern Film and Media have announced the launch of their latest Stingers scheme. I’ve just completed a mini-Stinger for them, Come Back, which hopefully will be getting premiered soon. It was an amazing experience, working with a great production company, Vita Nova, and all kinds of lovely and professional people to create… well, a fairly daft but hopefully funny little film.


The cast of Come Back

Anyway, if you’re in NFM’s catchment area (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Tees Valley) and into the whole writey-filmy thing, it’s worth getting involved, either as a writer, or a director, or as both.

Stingers 7  Call for Entries

Stingers 7 is the annual digital short Film Scheme from Northern Film & Media, run in association with the UK Film Council. As the title suggests, it is a scheme that has run for the past seven years, launching the careers of many writers, directors and producers from the region, taking some as far as international success.

To freshen up the Stingers format this year’s scheme will be run a little differently. There are now four separate strands to the scheme; Mini Stingers, Maxi Stingers, Digital Nation (formally Digital Shorts Plus) and 4mations.

Mini Stingers 7

Mini Stingers is open to new and emerging writers and directors. Each production will have total budget of £4,000 and the film must be under five minutes. You can apply with a drama, docu-drama, documentary or animation-based projects to this scheme..

Maxi Stingers 7

Maxi Stingers is open to writers who have a track record in the industry and have had at least one commission before. Directors should have a track record of short film making or have a similar experience in another medium (i.e. TV drama, documentary, commercials etc).  Each production will have a total budget of £12,000 and be no more than ten minutes long. This scheme is drama only.

Digital Nation (formally Digital Shorts Plus)

Digital Nation invites applications from directors and writer/directors who are ready to make the leap to more ambitious cinematic short films.   You may have made a Stinger or work of a similar level, for example you may have a broadcast credit in drama or documentary or you may be an established theatre writer or director.   Digital Nation will provide you with the opportunity to join a nationwide talent pool and participate in an intensive tailored development process designed to hone your script and your voice as a filmmaker.  At the end of this development process the UK Film Council will choose 12 films over 2 years, each to be made at a budget of approx £18, 000.


4mations Digital Shorts is a new animation strand of the Digital Shorts Scheme which will have its own guidelines and deadline date. 4mations Digital Shorts will open for applications on the 10th October and close on the 10th November. If you are an animator then you should apply to that scheme through the 4mations website directly www.4mations.tv . The 4mations Digital Shorts page (with guidelines & application form) will not be available until Friday 10th October on the 4mations site. Right now, you can subscribe to the 4mations newsletter, and the 4mations team will keep you up to speed as they go live. Details will also be posted on our website once finalised.

We are seeking ambitious, original and thought-provoking narrative driven proposals from developing animation talent. Preferred running time is 3 minutes but we will accept up to maximum of 7 minutes. We will commission 1 film through the 4mations Digital Shorts Scheme at a budget of £15,000.

You must be based in the North East region (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Tees Valley). You must also not be in full-time or undergraduate education.

To apply, please download the appropriate application form and guidelines from our  Website .

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Thursday 30th October 2008.