Top Row L-R: Kaljeven Singh Lally; Paisley Valentine Walsh; Kirsty McLean; Derek Anderson; Alice Clark; Sacha Kyle
Bottom Row L-R: Writer/Director: Hannah Kelso; Jack Goessens; Emma Ramsay; Stuart Langfield; James Ley; Erica Monde
In April 2023, we extended an invitation to writers, writer/directors, and filmmaking teams comprising writers, directors, and producers to submit one-page outlines of their innovative short film concepts for the fourth iteration of Sharp Shorts.
The response was overwhelming, with over 315 applications of an exceptionally high standard. The competition was fierce, highlighting a captivating range of diverse genres – from heartwarming romantic comedies to intense psychological dramas and thought-provoking speculative fiction. The pool of talent and originality displayed in the submitted projects was nothing short of inspiring.
Following a meticulous assessment process that engaged a panel of readers and external assessors, we are excited to announce the 12 visionary teams that will collaborate with our dedicated Short Circuit Talent Executives to refine and develop their short films.
Here are the 12 projects that have been shortlisted:
Writer/Director: Kaljeven Singh Lally; Producer: Jena Hunter
Synopsis: A young Sikh man battles with the call to adventure and the offer of three wishes a mysterious Stranger brings.
From the team: “We can’t wait to begin working with the Short Circuit team and to further develop the project. We’re excited to make the most of this opportunity at this stage of our careers!”
Director: Paisley Valentine Walsh; Writers: Nathalie Ahmadzadeh and Joanne Thomson
Synopsis: 5-year-old Rita is struggling to fit in after moving to Scotland when she meets Elspeth, but just as their friendship begins to blossom, a traumatic event forces Rita to navigate the margin between the world of children and adults.
From the team: “We are over the moon to have Awake selected for Sharp Shorts and to have the opportunity and support to develop our project to its highest level.”
Writer/Director: Kirsty McLean
Synopsis: Stuck selling frozen microwave meals for her father, twelve-year-old Abby becomes engrossed by a group of dangerously free teens, causing a heated eruption of hormones and extreme agitation.
From Kirsty: “I am really excited to be developing my film through Short Circuit. The Sharp Shorts programme will allow me to continue pushing my creative vision whilst furthering my storytelling skillset through collaborative workshops and executive/industry support. To be provided time to develop a short film within the industry is an extremely rare but necessary step to creating a successful career. I am really looking forward to further building upon my network of Scottish filmmakers and developing a script which will captivate future audiences.”
Writer/Director: Derek Anderson; Producer: Joel Hewett
Synopsis: As the cost of living crisis peaks, lifelong friends Willie and Harry grapple with the harsh realities of a broken system and the burden of care.
From the team: “Cold is a film that we’re deeply passionate about and being selected for development helps us to bring the story to life. We both have a strong belief in building characters who tell social stories, and we’re really excited to work in a supportive and encouraging environment where we can have an open and honest dialogue and make the film the best it can be.”
Writer: Alice Clark; Director: Jemima Levick
Synopsis: An overloaded woman and her stepdaughter go on the hunt for a missing Nike worth a week’s groceries in this vibrant retelling of Cinderella.
From Alice: “I’m thrilled to be selected, alongside my incredible director, with a project close to our hearts that we love and believe will resonate with many. I can’t wait to get into the collaborative process of script development with the Short Circuit team and work towards bringing our story to screen.”
Writer/Director: Sacha Kyle; Co-Director: Victoria Watson; Producer: Rhona Drummond; Music Producer and Composer: Giles Lamb
Synopsis: Embark on a captivating journey to the moon to discover the absurdity of our existence and the importance of human connection in this surreal dream-like animated adventure.
From the team: “We are particularly excited that our project Distance to the Moon has been shortlisted as part of the Sharp Shorts 2023 programme and very much look forward to the development time, and script editing advice, we will receive over the next few months from the Short Circuit Team of Execs. Our film explores human spirit, narrated by music, within a surreal animated world – and we can’t wait to make it!”
Writer/Director: Hannah Kelso; Producer: Danielle Goff
Synopsis: It’s MEGHAN McKINSLEY’s (35) first day on the job as a home carer. When she’s left alone to visit the uncooperative BONNIE (78), Meghan struggles to provide the elderly woman with the care she requires.
From the team: “We are thrilled to take our project into development and bring our script into the world, taking full advantage of the generous development process and expertise of the Sharp Shorts team so that we can fully interrogate the story and characters and find deeper meaning within our piece. To further explore the dichotomy of death in its wounding pain and freeing beauty. To celebrate the kindness of strangers and portray the remarkable selflessness and joyous humanity we see in our communities every day. We’re also excited to be collaborating on Kelso’s first venture as a Director.”
Writer/Director: Jack Goessens; Producers: Reece Cargan and Rosanagh Griffiths
Synopsis: After receiving a phone call from his estranged mother, a young transman returns to his parental home for the first time since his transition. While trying to find out if his dad realizes who he is, he’s taken on a surrealist journey through his childhood via his dad’s dementia-affected memories.
From Jack: “I’m looking forward to working with the Sharp Shorts 2023 team to develop my short Living Room. It’s an ambitious project for our team and a good stepping stone towards our feature Boifriend.”
Writer/Director: Emma Ramsay; Producer: Michaela Barton
Synopsis: Polly’s been dumped and she’s done something drastic: she’s cut out her own heart. Literally. Now, it’s up to best friend Yasmin to convince Polly to embrace her broken heart and swallow her own pain. Again, literally.
From Emma: “I’m dead excited to have a project as personal as Poly Baggage interrogated through the Sharp Short development process. It’s an ambitious genre piece I’ve pulled up out of my guts and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty with Michaela and the development team. Let’s rip the thing open and see what we find!”
Writer/Director: Stuart Langfield
Synopsis: See You in The Dark is a dissection of traditional masculine friendship set against the backdrop of a 1980s Catholic residential school.
From Stuart: “I’m so excited to be a part of Sharp Shorts 2023, and to follow along from some incredible films that have been made in Scotland these past few years. Having created a number of self-funded projects in the past, this is such a great opportunity to take my work to the next level, and to reach a wider audience with it. My project is a film I’ve revisited a number of times over the past 2-3 years and is a story I deeply connect with, and so I’m really excited to dive into development to keep pushing and refining our script and the world and characters we’ve already created.”
Writer/Director: James Ley
Synopsis: Alan and Blair’s first date is going so well that Alan goes to wash his willy in the gents in anticipation of a blow job on the way home, however doing so opens a portal to a terrifying speakeasy a mile under Glasgow from which there seems to be no escape.
From James: “I’m thrilled to be developing Sleazy Tiger with Short Circuit and to be in with a chance of translating my joyous and irreverent directing style from stage to screen for the first time. It’s really exciting to get to queer an unexpected genre and to look at Alan’s terrifying journey through the lens of horror comedy.”
Writer/Director: Erica Monde
Synopsis: In this queer, poetic love story, Ainsley works at a thunderous factory by the sea, attempting to drown out the cacophonous chimes, groans, grinding, banging, and echoes their body makes seemingly without reason. However, their daily ritual is disrupted when a new co-worker Simon arrives.
From Erica: “I was very excited to be selected to participate in Sharp Shorts 2023 and to start exploring the process of developing my first short fiction film. It means a lot to be offered the unique opportunity to have Short Circuit’s support and guidance in creating a space to develop such a personally inspired story.”
We are immensely proud of the projects selected for development and extend our congratulations to these talented filmmakers. After pitching for a production award in September 2023, up to six projects will be selected to receive up to £25,000 of funding. The journey towards bringing these captivating stories to life has just begun, and we are excited to be part of this creative expedition.