Call For Submissions: The Strawberry Shorts Film Festival 2014

NOTE: SUBMISSION IS NOW CLOSED. IF YOU HAVE MADE A SUBMISSION YOU WILL BE INFORMED OF ITS STATUS SHORTLY

Cambridge Cinema Shorts, in partnership with Strawberry Fair, are delighted to announce that we will be holding The Strawberry Shorts Film Festival on the evening of Friday 6th June. The Film Festival has the honour of acting as the opening event for Strawberry Fair 2014, (its 40th anniversary), which takes place on Saturday 7thst June.

Film submissions are invited for the 14th Strawberry Shorts Film Festival and those short-listed will be entered into our competitive programme vying for a chance to win La Fraise d’Or.

Strawberry Shorts is a well established and respected short film festival and an important event in the Cambridge calender. It enjoys national support and has international recognition. Each year we try to add a little extra, keeping it fresh and alive, and encouraging continued interest with year round supporting events.

There will be two categories, Best Overall Festival Winner and Best Local Short Film, (we feel we have a duty to encourage local film makers). There are two awards for each category, The Audience Award and The Jury Award – with the winners being announced at the end of the evening.

Films can be of any genre but should be less than 20 minutes long. There is no submission fee and the closing event is a genuine festival complete with an enthusiastic audience and good press coverage. Close of entry is Saturday 19th April.

Films will be short-listed by a viewing panel and the final selection will be screened at the Strawberry Shorts Film Festival. Audience entry will be on a first come, first served basis. All audience members will receive voting slips on arrival so they can vote for The Audience Awards . Further details of venue and times will be available closer to date, so please continue to visit our web site for information and news on this and other forthcoming events.

Tips, Advice and the Occasional Rant

We do not wish to appear to be telling the majority of you film makers your craft, we are sure most of you know more about it than we ever will, but each year we do get enough films sent for us to make several observations concerning production and presentation. It is often a very sad process for us to reject what could be a good film but for very simple and easily avoidable mistakes.

How long is short?

Although our limit on the maximum length of the films we except is 20 minutes it is very unlikely that any film of that length will make it to the final selection. We have had some superb entries of around this length and we are grateful for them, often showing them at other events we put on throughout the year, (film makers are informed and permission sought). However, the judges, in their wisdom, usually take the view that its a short film festival and therefore films should be short. And going on the winners in recent years, although judges may change, whoever they are they do tend to stick to this criterion.

Sound quality

If Casablanca had a bad soundtrack, the sound level of the piano bearing no relationship to the accompanying lyrics, the rustle of cloth drowning out talk of ‘Paris’ and wind roaring in the mic during the runway scene, the film would have flopped like a dead fish. The sound crew damned forever to wander Hollywood on a pointless quest for further employment. And that being indisputably so, why to some film makers think that a different criterion exists for their five minute masterpiece?

We see many films that on the surface appear rather good but this is only with the sound turned down. Turn it up and its audio hell with all the above faults plus some.. Film makers, if your actors can be bothered to learn their scrip and the camera operator and lighting crew turn up on the day, please, please, please do them the courtesy of making at least some effort with the sound. And if its not great do it again and dub it in. To be honest its better to have the lip sync slightly out than the hum of the air conditioning unit drowning out the dialogue.

Subtitles

We like films with subtitles, there were six in the 2013 festival including the winner, Foto, There could have been more. Please, if a film has subtitles, time, energy and expense has been taken to put them on. Therefore may we suggest that the said time,energy and expense is not wasted by ensuring that they are readable. What is the point of putting white letters on a white background or having them on for so little time that the audience cannot read them?

It really is not that hard. We know because, on occasion we have re-done them for you on films we particularly liked. But that’s just us! The reality is that most films with poor subtitles do not get past the initial viewing panel and it is a great shame that such a wealth of material is lost to the wider world.

A few tips, requests, suggestions and pleas, we would like to impart are as follows:

  • ensure that they are high enough on the screen to be seen. The higher they are the easier it is to read them and watch the image at the same time,
  • make sure that they are discernible from the background, perhaps by giving them a black or white highlight, (depending on the image behind).
  • And please leave them on the screen long enough for us to read them. There is nothing worse than the script flashing on and of like a strobe light. It just gives us a headache and makes it unwatchable.

Subtitles open up a film to the wider world bringing to life images insights and ideas of countries and cultures undreamed of. We love them.

Format

What frustration! What a let down! The viewing panel reads the synopsis and expectation rises. The DVD is loaded into the player and…… Nothing! Yet another entry requiring a computer and some obscure viewing medium that we really do not have the time or patience to seek. We like to give our films the respect they deserve, that is, shown on as large a screen as possible and with an audience considerably larger than one.

We passionately believe in the medium of cinema, the large screen, the collective experience and we firmly believe that is where the majority of creative film makers are aiming for. We are not prepared to sell ourselves or our film makers out to the small screen, isolated viewing, laptop banality of U tube.

Please, just send us a disc that we can watch on the TV.