How to make a short film that gets into festivals in 60 minutes and for free

I am a big fan of the quick production. Not that there is a problem with the Mallickesque pre-production style across a few decades. The Tree of Life took time, but boy was it worth it.

However I have found focusing my creativity quickly can bring great results. One of my most popular short films (Screened across the UK and Europe) to date was made within 60 minutes, Nuclear Mysticism.

  1. 0 minutes on pre-production
  2. 30 minutes of script-less filming
  3. 2 minutes of a one take V/O
  4. 20 minutes of editing
  5. 3 minutes finding the wonderful copyright free “Dali” font for the title.
  6. 5 minutes to grade
  7. 60 minutes total

This short film went to on to be nominated for a variety of festivals across the UK and Europe. Receiving thousands of views and even got me paid work.

Top three tips for submitting to film festivals




After successfully getting a few short films into festivals across the world I thought I would give a quick top three of things to think about when submitting.

1) Budget for submissions
With fees of £15 to £30 for entry, DVDs and postage costs it quickly adds up. Prepare for this in your budget and take into account the cheap early bird fees compared to late deadlines.

It is a total bore but being organised and planning ahead can save you a lot of money and give your film its best chance of selection. I finished up Dragoon in September and meant I could get a lot of the early bird submission deadlines for festivals I really wanted to get into. This is also something that helps when Festivals will only accept if it is a premiere at their festival.


This site will save you a fortune. A wonderful resource to enable you to get your film out to the world for free. Most of the films listed are online submissions too so not even postal costs.



A Little added bonus. Check out  to make your own Film Festival Laurel Leaves.

An Unloved Story: Lost in Translation // Her

Jorge Luengo Ruiz has put together some amazing montages over on Vimeo . This one looking at the two films Lost in Translation and Her is near on perfect. The two stories tie in so beautifully and the GV’s in particular are at times indistinguishable. I hadn’t before even considered the intertwining links between the two stories but the gorgeous city cinematography in both fits so well. Let me know what you think.


Best film soundtrack of 2014


2014 was a bit of a strange one for soundtracks. A Wes Anderson film came out, surely the King of Quirk would ride to number 1 on his bike made from old trumpets without a question. Alas he went for an original score, not a 70’s throwback to be heard. Setting your film in war torn Europe does lesson the opportunities to stick some Bowie in. Even though its a lovely score it wasn’t that memorable.

Mallick also didn’t make an appearance, which nowadays isn’t so taken for granted. He did however produce this, which after watching 2 seconds of this trailer should come as no surprise.

So who do I turn to? My two favorites were rather close for very different reasons. The runner up is the OST from Frank.

A musical of sorts based fictionally around the paper mache wonder that was Frank Sidebottom. Some hilarious songs that make you want to “Dance all night, dance all night”.

The wonderful whimsy of the whole film, mixed with the great performances as the music was recorded live made for a really enjoyable film and by adding a Gleeson its probably the best comedy film of 2014 for me.

The number one slot goes to a film that could well be the best film of 2014 for me. A lot of critics have also placed it high up in their top tens and if you haven’t seen it I strongly suggest you do.

The Score done by Mica Levi is spectacular.  I recently on a drive up to Oban couldnt get the tracks out of my head as we weaved along the Lochs. Glazer’s film is beautiful and creepy but the soundtrack really does take it to another level.

It actually “took about nine months of working pretty constantly” for Mica to make it. That nine months certainly paid off and it has to be my best soundtrack of 2014. No other film has made me mention the soundtrack before even discussing the film with people. Enjoy.

Vimeo Ireland: Pick of January 2015


Some of you may be aware that I run the Vimeo Ireland group on…well Vimeo. I try my best to keep it a lively group and with now over 100 members and over 400 videos its doing alright for itself. I often select a video or two from the group that I like. The two below are my selections for the first month of 2015. They both caught my eye and are both great depictions of Ireland in their own ways. Check them out.

Through the Lens – Limerick Milk Market from Conor Bryce on Vimeo.

I recently watched a video capturing Paris through the lens of an old Pentax and had to try something similar. I constructed a rig to hold both my Nikon and an old Lubitel 166b in place, strapped it to my chest, and went shooting!

Graded using Magic Bullet Looks.
Edited in After Effects/Premiere.

“Ascent” – Adam Taylor

Dislocation [Short Film] from Fintan Kearney on Vimeo.

Two security guards in the South of Ireland discover there may not be all that much to keep secure.

A short drama about holding onto the past and how loosing a life long job can mean loosing your status and belonging in the world.

The Ferris Bueller Fight Club Theory


I love a good conspiracy theory and when two films that I love are involved in that theory, well that near on blows my mind. The theory stands that in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Ferris doesn’t actually exist and is instead all part of Cameron’s imagination. This “Fight Club”  theory didn’t make mush sense…….but then I watched the below Classy Hands mash up. Prepare to have all your thoughts on the John Hughes Classic blown to pieces.


2014 in review & goals for 2015

It took a cliched layed out photo of my equipment and sitting down to make a showreel to make me realise how little I have done this year. I have only used one of those six cameras and out of those eight lenses I have used three, that’s rather sad.
So I sat down to make a new showreel…

That’s it. The only things I can put in my showreel this year.
Last year (2013 project) I did a project every month, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. This pushed me to make twelve projects in a variety of forms. Some did really well and were screened across Europe, others took 5mins and nobody looked at them.

Without this forced creativity in 2014 I struggled to actually make anything without the persuasion and help from some friends. In 2015 I need to find a sensible middle ground, a few fun projects across a mixture of art forms and a bit of free time to develop these rather than one a month. Perhaps a sort of manifesto for 2015 may be in order.
Looking back at what I said at the end of 2013 I looked at what I planned for the year ahead.

my plan for next year is to focus on a few short films/docs over 2014.”2013 in review

I didn’t focus on any short films/docs in 2014.
This year I did however entertain millions of kids with games, music videos and competitions. Those are what have taken over my year. Often people do a job they hate so that they can make short films/art projects in their spare time. I do a job I love which gives me great satisfaction and allows me to organise locations, create filming schedules, find contributors, sort crew, edit video and even shoot interviews. Its great, 2014 enabled me to realise what a great job I have. Even though that is the case I still want to make things that can’t fit into work. So these are my three goals for 2015.

Three goals for 2015
Make a short film and submit to festivals
Exhibit photography
Collaborate on an art project

Here is hoping I can achieve these three, I think its easily achievable. I shall no doubt be back here next year at this time, I hope I can just put a big tick beside those three. See you this time next year.

Knight of Cups Trailer

Straight off the bat, I’m a Malick fan. I got Tree of Life, I even enjoyed To the Wonder. However this, I really ain’t sure. It’s got to a stage where it’s a parade of a pastiche. The eagle eyed of you will have noticed the first two images are from To The Wonder. 
It feels like a formulaic process of knowing what has been done before and recreating it with a very lose and slightly different plot and some great* actors.
In the same way all the greats have a style that can be replicated but of course never perfected. This however looks like a replication of a Malick film. 
At the end of the day it’s just a trailer, for all we know big Terry may have a totally different film ready and all of this is on the floor.
We shall wait and see.

MeetThe62 : A documentary project

20131202-203503.jpgAfter my blog regarding the fact only 62 people work full time in the Scottish film industry I have had a few interesting chats and tweets off people. A very interesting chat was had today with a colleague who said why don’t you go meet them all and make a film about it. So that’s where this ball starts rolling, I want to try and at least find these 62 people. So if you are working full time in the Scottish film industry please leave a comment or send me an email. If you are just generally interested feel free to contact me also.

Meeting the 62 people employed full time in Scotland’s Film Production Sector


It’s a pretty crazy fact but indeed there are only 62 people in Scotland who have a full time job within Film Production (Source 1). I have been working within TV for the last few years, not out of a burning love for TV and the online world it also absorbs but from a love of production and creation. I have aspirations of becoming a film maker and have found it strange that coming to Glasgow hasn’t developed that opportunity compared to being in Northern Ireland. I have actually only been funded by NI Screen since moving to Scotland a few years ago ( for the award winning 15 second film Vinyl Touch) .

After reading of this 62 within Creative Scotland’s Review of the film sector I found it rather staggering but also fascinating that not only could you meet and greet all of these people in a few hours. It also means that with Scotland’s estimated population at 5,327,700 that only 0.001% of Scotland’s population works full time in Film Production (Source 2).

That got me thinking of the various people that I know who currently work on films, they all work freelance though. I couldn’t actually think of anyone that I know who would consider themselves one of the 62. So this is an open invite to introduce yourself people of the 62, I wish to say hello and find out exactly what do you do? and a bit more about you rather than just the facts and figures I see. Perhaps there is a story in there worth telling.

Plagerising, copying, Lucy Rose and the New Ancestors


You may remember the  music video I made for the New Ancestors a month ago. If you haven’t seen it then its below and you should watch it before reading on.

This video was made using the technique TTv where you use a digital camera (Canon 550d) strapped to a contraption of wood, cardboard and cello tape with an old analog camera(Kodak Duaflex) with a large viewfinder to film through inside. The technique is a bit of a pain but makes for some really interesting images and a lot of weird looks. I have been shooting TTv for about four years and have had a few experiments with film such as last years “Of The”.

Yesterday however a lovely friend from Finland mentioned after watching the New Ancestors music video he felt a strong correlation between it and a video for the amazing Lucy Rose. I had to have a look see and this is the video below.

Now I am not one to gossip but it’s pretty clear auld Lucy has herself a time machine. The resemblance between the two video is rather weird, I watched it a few times last night in a bit of shock thinking people probably think we got the idea from that.

This got me thinking, so many times I have seen music videos or short films that seem so similar to others that I have struggled to even consider they were independently created without at least seeing the other one. Alas now I have a new appreciation for the poor person at the brunt of “err you stole this idea” comments.

Sorry person, I shall rush less to judge.

Dragoon or how I learned to love short films and lot about film making and festivals


It has been a serious LOVE, hate, hate, HATE, love, hate, love relationship I have had with Dragoon since the summer of 2012 when it all began in Partick Library. The planning and pre-production was great fun, lots of interesting research and buying equipment, whats not to love. It then ended up with one day of production in Mugdock park outside Glasgow. Possibly the coldest more misreable day ever but alas what more would be expected. Shooting on a Canon 550d with a variety of old glass (Yashica, Tokina and Soligor which were all passed down to me from my dad and grand dad) meant that it was a cheap day of production. I was cameraman/runner/production manager/stills/director/producer all into one and I had a sound recordist I had worked with on BBC productions for a while. We were the crew. No lighting, no assistants just two people.

The beauty of having a lens that goes down to f1.2 is you can shoot in a forest at ISO 400. Means you have crazy depth of field but the intense nearly suffocating feel it created was what I wanted so it suited the story perfectly. It also means keeping at low ISO that the image does not have a lot of grain, something you often see in short films filmed at night.

So one day of production done in the bag, nearly filled a 32gb card. This was in September 2012. Now we entered the magical world of post production where time is deleted.

Speed on and it wasn’t until September 2013 that Dragoon was finally edited into shape for its first film festival submission. This year did involve me having a house fire and losing most of my stuff, NB Always have more than two back ups!.

Now it enters the submission stage, I started off submitting to a list of festivals that I wanted to get into for the best suitable exposure. Glasgow Film Festival, being my geographically closest festival, Belfast Film Festiv

al, being where the majority of my exec producers were based and Foyle Film Festival, a major player on the Oscar circuit and the local festival to where I grew up. belfast_filmAll of these cost a severe amount, from £15-£40 just to submit. We got rejected from them all.

Now Dragoon has finally entered its final stage. The release, after being rejected by a rather lot of film festivals which I had submitted to trying to get exposure its over to the online world to make its decision on it.I found this site (no entry fee festivals) to be amazing and highly recommend signing up for their newsletter, it will save you a fortune. I submitted to a number of festivals and again, got rejected by all of them except one which actually nominated Dragoon for Best film in the 18-25year old section, this festival was Cinemagic, Belfast. It has free entry and is an amazing opportunity for any aspiring young film makers. 

If you enjoy it feel free to share it on and try and get this untold story from Operation Dragoon a bit more exposure.