By Sarah Chaisson-Warner
Shore Scripts’ Short Film Fund provides emerging screenwriters and filmmakers with the funding and support they need to get their short film scripts financed and produced. In this article, we are going to take a look at the vibrant and enduring partnership at the heart of the opportunities offered by the Short Film Fund.
One winning short film script is chosen each season by an award-winning panel of judges, including BAFTA-winning writer Elena Ruscombe-King, Tribeca programmer Kimberley Browning, producer Emilie Jouffroy, and alumnus Nora Kirkpatrick.
Grand Prize Winners of the Short Film Fund receive a full prize package providing screenwriters and filmmakers with the support they need to take their film off the page and onto the reel.
Included in the prize package is free camera equipment rental for the duration of the production from our sponsor and close partner, ARRI Rental. With facilities in North America, Europe, and the UK, ARRI Rental brings the most inspiring image technology in the world, offering first-class camera, lighting, and grip equipment to filmmakers.
ARRI Rental’s combined resources and expertise allow it to develop and roll out exclusive, proprietary technologies. This includes the world’s only true 65 mm digital cinema camera system, ALEXA 65, as well as diverse and customizable lens options across all formats, among them the Prime DNA, DNA LF, ALFA, and Moviecam lens series.
How ARRI and Shore Scripts work together to support emerging screenwriters.
The relationship between Shore Scripts and ARRI Rental began with the founding of the Short Film Fund. “We offered an equipment package for the competition,” said Dana Harrison, Director of Operations for the Camera, Grip, and Lighting Divisions. “And the support and sponsorship have continued every year since then.”
The partnership between Shore Scripts and ARRI Rental is core to ARRI’s mission and vision. “ARRI Rental has always been a huge supporter of emerging filmmakers. Being able to support them creatively and be instrumental in realizing their vision is what we do best. Shore Scripts’ mission is the same and this makes our partnership successful at all levels” says Dana.
ARRI Rental’s top-of-the-line equipment support for the winning writers of the Short Film Fund has been an integral part of each filmmaker’s success in bringing their film to life. Each winner received a complete camera package, including cameras, lenses, accessories, and grip equipment. For the average filmmaker, equipment packages like these can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars to rent, making it a highly coveted part of the overall prize package. “Our partnership with them allows our filmmaking teams to level the playing fields to a great extent, creating a film with production values that far exceed the budget,” said Dave Beazley, Founder of Shore Scripts.
ARRI Rental represents the industry standard in camera equipment and their equipment is used on most TV Shows and Features, including multi-million-dollar epics. “They have always been a champion of upcoming filmmakers,” says Dave.
“It’s been a real honor to partner with them, aligning our interests of helping to support the next generation of screenwriting and filmmaking talent.” Dave Beazley.
The experienced and supportive staff team at ARRI Rental also looks to nurture and build relationships with the winning writers. “We work hard to nurture new and established talent, at the same time building career-long relationships with them,” said Dana. “We have an incredible team here at ARRI Rental, locally and internationally. Our focus is to not only provide first-class equipment but to support expanding the creative horizons of our clients and their imaginations.”<
Their support has helped Shore Scripts make stand-out films that have gone on to play at major festivals, won awards, garnered interest from the industry, and started the careers of many of those involved in the Film Fund.
The Winners’ Experience
Short Film Fund Winner Ben Gutteridge knows first-hand how critical and valuable the relationship and products ARRI Rental offers are when bringing a filmmaker’s vision to life. Ben’s film, The Naked Man, is a short film about an invisible man who falls in love with a blind girl.
“I started to think about what the reality of being invisible would actually be – and I realized…being invisible could be decidedly lonely, as you would not have any human interaction. So, that is how we meet Harry, a lonely, invisible man, drifting around, following other people’s lives because he can’t live his own. Until he meets Molly, the no-bullshit, fascinating, blind girl. Harry resolves to win her affections and tries to set up a date that goes tragically wrong until things take an unexpected twist.” He wanted the film to be “melancholic and humorous, with a suspenseful soul and throbbing heart.”
The film required extensive equipment support, particularly for more complicated shooting scenes involving an indoor pool. “When we approached ARRI Rental about this they were extremely supportive,” Ben said.
“We basically had every bit of kit we needed to tell the story that we wanted, in the way we wanted. They believed in our project from the beginning and were nothing but fully supportive.” Ben Gutteridge.
Ben will always be grateful to ARRI for this and various other projects. “I think they make the best cameras, but also you can tell it is a family-run business as they make you feel that they care about your project as much as you do.”
Jess Batzli agrees. Her winning short film, Little Anna, tells the story of a third-grade teacher who receives a new student with the same first and last name as herself, triggering eerie similarities and traumatic memories when the girl’s father fails to pick her up from school. “To me, Little Anna is, more than anything, a ghost story,” she said. In the film, the teacher lost her father at a young age, and feels abandoned and alone. “So, when a possibly similar thing is happening to a little girl, especially a girl who seems so much like her, she wants to protect Anna from that same pain…but she can’t. With Anna’s cosmic awareness and rumination on life after death within the context of Ancient Egypt, the teacher starts to feel a presence she hasn’t really felt before. Maybe she’s not alone, and maybe she never was.”
As part of her prize package, Jess received equipment and support from ARRI Rental, too. Jess’ vision for the short film was meant to be “both disturbing and strangely comforting at the same time” and she referenced The Sixth Sense and The Invisible Man in thinking through the mystery and eeriness she wanted to achieve. To capture her vision, she embraced low-angle closeups and static wide shots to build the feeling of a ghostly presence in many of the scenes.
ARRI’s support was instrumental in helping Jess meet the goals for her film. “They did everything in their power to ensure we got every piece of equipment we needed to execute our vision,” she said. “Despite some unanticipated changes and a busy time of year for production, they were so gracious with us and worked as hard as they could to help the film come to life.”
ARRI Rental’s support was also critical in supporting the shoot of Champ, one of the winners of the 2019 Short Film Fund. The film had two shooting dates in London, both of which were canceled because of Covid. “Both times ARRI was there to support us with free equipment and were completely understanding when we needed to pull the plug,” Dave recalled. Champ‘s Director Ben Tricklebank and the team achieved the shoot by relocating to LA.
“ARRI supported the project with two free cameras, grip gear, and everything else for the entirety of the shoot, which would have cost tens of thousands! That continued support and understanding meant and still means so much to us.” Dave Beazley.
Thinking about production when you write your story.
Considering your project’s budget when writing your story can open up opportunities and help create a smooth transition into production.
“A writer should be conscious of the budget when writing a short film, but what they shouldn’t do is let is dictate the ideas that come, and story early on,” Dave Beazley says. “At some point with a short, you do want to think about the budget as ultimately you want to get the thing made! The point at which you do this will differ for all. It could be in the outline stage, end of the first draft – whichever feels natural to your creative process.”
“At some point, though, it’s worth looking at your story and thinking ‘can this be produced for x amount?’ If it can’t, then it’s worth going back in and seeing if there’s anywhere in which you could rein it in to help make the production more feasible,” Dave advises.
When you’re at the point of considering your production costs, think critically about your film’s needs, and where costs might be cut. “Do you need that extra location? Do you need to film in that helicopter? 😀 Watch as many short films as you can. That will help you get a sense of how others have done it as 99% of shorts have small budgets,” says Dave. You can still make that sci-fi, or whatever it may be, you just need to be clever in how you tell the story. Short of the Week is a wonderful resource for great short films.”
“When submitting a list for a project with budget constraints, the most important thing to remember is to be flexible,” says Dana. “Of course, there is something to be said for aiming high and trying to secure all of the latest state-of-the-art equipment and accessories but being open to compromise means there’s a greater chance of you getting the hardware you need, over the equipment you may want.”
If you’re a new or young filmmaker, you may not have significant experience to draw upon when you’re considering options and alternatives, but that’s where ARRI Rental can help you too.
“The team here at ARRI Rental will always try to find a solution. As cinematographers, producers and directors build on their experience and gain momentum in their careers, the relationship between them and us develops too.” Dana Harrison.
Their support and mentorship mean guiding new creatives for the long term. “Supporting new talent when they need it most will hopefully lay the foundation for a long partnership.” Dana Harrison.
For more information about the Shore Scripts Short Film Fund Competition, visit https://www.shorescripts.com/shortfilmfund/
For more information about ARRI Rental, visit https://www.arrirental.com
After 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often, unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is currently writing a sci-fi and a family Christmas script. Her script, Serafina Stavinovna, was placed in “The Next 100” in the 2021 Nicholl Fellowship Competition.
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