We recently announced the launch of our new short film scheme – Sharp Shorts.

To save you some time, we’ve compiled a list of answers to questions we received during the recent virtual meet-up with our interim Talent Executive, Alice Whittemore.

Got a question? We’re happy to answer! If you don’t see your question below, get in touch with us at hello@shortcircuit.scot.


Do the shorts that go into production with Sharp Shorts include both new and emerging talent?

Sharp Shorts is for new and emerging talent, and we intend for the shorts made through the scheme to reflect a balance of experience levels and perspectives. All shorts selected will be able to access up to £15,000 in production funding.

Can you apply for the short film scheme and also the feature film scheme when that launches, or would you prefer people only apply to one?

We are unlikely to fund the same writer or writer/director for a short and feature at the same time. If you are unsure of which opportunity to go for at this stage in your career, we’d advise you to have a chat with us before applying. Producers may be attached to a Sharp Shorts and a First Features application simultaneously, provided they are with different creative talent.

Can you apply as a solo director or producer without a project and also submit an application with a project/team?

Yes, though if your project is selected to progress through the scheme you will no longer be considered as a solo director or producer.

Can a writer apply with more than one project? For example, can they apply for one together with a director but then also with another project on their own?

Yes, though you will only be able to progress with one project.

Is it also a maximum of 2 ideas per producer? Or per team, so a producer could be across more projects?

Writers or writer/directors can be attached to a maximum of two projects. Producers may be attached to more, though please note you can only progress through the scheme with one project.

Will full teams be prioritised over solo applications?

Not at this initial shortlisting stage. We are looking for the 15 ideas that excite us most, are achievable within the parameters of the scheme, and show potential for to be developed.

What is the maximum experience required for Sharp Shorts? 

The purpose of Short Circuit is to primarily support new and emerging talent, so we tend to define this as up to first feature level. Producers may have feature experience, and while there is no strict maximum experience level, we will consider the benefit of the scheme to each team on balance and on a case by case basis.

Do you need an idea to apply? I am a writer and I would like the opportunity to work on/develop a script, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.

We are only accepting applications from writers with an idea for this round of Sharp Shorts. If you are looking to team up with a co-writer, we would suggest you join our Facebook group or sign up for one of our upcoming talent mixers to connect with other writing talent with whom you share a similar sensibility.

Is there any option to be in touch with Short Circuit in advance of applying to Sharp Shorts to seek advice on which of my two ideas may be preferable to submit?

We regret we cannot offer advice or feedback on ideas during the application call. You are able to submit both ideas (a maximum of two) or we suggest you try pitching your ideas to friends or family for their guidance prior to applying.

Do you have any advice on what are appropriate examples to help ensure directors’ experience stands out in an application form?

When assessing directors, we will be looking predominantly at the previous directing work you have uploaded to your BFI NETWORK Postroom account. We are looking for full-length pieces of work rather than edited showreels. In your personal statement, you may wish to back this up by telling us which piece of work you’re most proud of, what you might do differently, your directing approach or visual style, or give examples of directors whose work you admire or have influenced you.

Will a filmmaker need to have had top-tier festival credits such as Berlinale/Sundance to be considered eligible?

No, you do not need to have proven success in short filmmaking before in order to apply, though we welcome applications from talent who have. Sharp Shorts is open to a mix of new and emerging talent.

If you’re a student who’s freshly graduated, with short films you’ve worked on but aren’t proud of, will their quality affect how Short Circuit assesses my idea? Or is it just proof you’ve had experience on sets and creating something within film?

We will be assessing the quality of your previous work alongside your idea. If you don’t have examples of previous work that you are proud of, then please use your personal statement to give us more detail about what you have learnt from your previous experience and how you intend to develop as a filmmaker.

If we’ve previously made a SFTN New Talent short and were looking to move onto an emerging talent short before a first feature, are we eligible and is the budget now £15k for the second short? Or is that a separate scheme?

We are offering £15,000 to each project selected for Sharp Shorts, regardless of whether or not the team is at a new or emerging level. We are likely to prioritise teams who have not had the opportunity to make a publicly funded short recently.

Will previous awardees of BFI funding (either via SFTN or other initiatives) be eligible to apply?

Yes, though we will be prioritising those who have not received BFI NETWORK support to make a short film previously.

Is Sharp Shorts strictly for those who have not had public funding before?

No, though we will be prioritising those who have not received BFI NETWORK support towards a short film previously.

If you’ve applied to another BFI fund with another project, can you apply to this fund with a new project/team (as a writer/director)?

Yes, though you should flag to us that you have applied; in case both applications are successful and prove to be conflicting commitments.

What about projects that were shortlisted for SFTN New Talent? If they’ve been reworked are they eligible for Sharp Shorts?

Yes, though we would advise you to declare you were previously shortlisted within your application.

Would there ever be a situation where people apply as a team, are awarded the funding, but some of the team members are excluded on the basis of lack of experience etc?

This is a conversation we may have at the development stage before your project is awarded funding, and if we feel that the ambition of your project does not yet match up with the level of experience within the team, we may suggest you bring additional support onboard e.g. a co-producer or co-writer.

When you apply as a team, and I have a producer on board, who submits the application?

It’s up to you. We would recommend that the creative lead on the project submits the application – i.e. the person who has written the personal statement. You can add team members to your application regardless by creating a profile on our website. If your producer is applying with a production company, they should provide their registered company name and number. 

Will Scottish themes/stories be prioritised?

Not strictly, though we do anticipate that the majority of projects selected will represent Scotland on-screen as well as off.

Can people apply if they’re in part-time education?

Yes, you may apply if you are in part-time education, as long as you are over 18 years of age. You may want to compare the approximate timeline for Sharp Shorts as outlined in the guidelines against your existing education commitments in advance of applying.

I am studying part-time for a Masters in Film and am due to finish in August. Does that mean that I should apply next year, or could I apply this June? 

If you are in part-time education, you can apply. However, we would recommend that you carefully consider your existing commitments against the approximate timeframe of the scheme as outlined in the guidelines.

Does everyone in the team have to be out of full-time education?

Yes – the writer, director and producer (and any co-writers/directors/producers) must not be in full-time education.

Can people apply on different applications for different roles?

Yes, however you can still only be attached to a maximum of two projects, and will be able to progress with only one if selected.

On Sharp Shorts, will it be possible to use the UK Tax Credit alongside the short film funding?

Yes – your project must pass the BFI’s Cultural Test to qualify as British.

Can an attached producer be based outside Scotland?

Yes, as long as they are based in the UK and the writer and director are both Scotland-based.

Is the development time on the weekends? How many hours or days in total?

There won’t be allotted time for you to develop your script. You are expected to put in the work around your schedule, within certain reasonable timeframes and deadlines set out by us.

Our team have full-time jobs, will the workshops be at the weekends or lunchtimes? Or would we be expected to take days off work in order to make the workshops?

You would not be expected to take time off work to attend workshops or training. These will not be mandatory to attend and will be scheduled around the availability of shortlisted filmmakers as best as possible.

How long do you have to be based in Scotland to qualify as Scottish based?

You must be a permanent resident of Scotland at the time of applying.

Can writers/directors and producers expect to get paid on a £15,000 budget? 

You should budget for everyone on your production to receive at least National Minimum Wage. You may need to look into raising additional finance to execute your film if your production budget comes to over £15,000.

Will my production budget be able to include in-kind support or budget for festival submissions?

Yes, though you will need to ensure that all cast and crew are paid at least National Minimum Wage (exceptions can be made in the case of employees of companies who agree to provide an in-kind service, as they will be receiving payment for the work they do already). 

How heavily will the feasibility of making the short film within the £15k budget be weighed by the judges?

We will assess your story outline and the feasibility of executing it on the budget you state in your application. You can make your short film for over £15k if you succeed in raising additional finance, and if shortlisted we will expect you to have confirmed this by the time of final pitch for funding in July 2020.

Is there any minimum amount for applications?

You can apply for any amount up to £15,000, though we may ask questions if your budget seems very low. Please note you are expected to pay all cast and crew National Minimum Wage at a minimum.

Would you like to know more about the film or the team behind the film? i.e. would you prefer a short summary of the director personally and professionally; conversely, more of a detailed look at the content of the film; or an outline of the crew we have pencilled in?

When first assessing your application, we will be paying particular attention to your story outline and personal statement. After reviewing these, we will look at your previous work and prior experience. Your personal statement should tell us about your intention for the short film and how it will serve your journey as a filmmaker. First and foremost, it’s the short film idea and why you are the person to tell it that you should aim to get across.

What will be the system for pairing producers with directors/writers? 

We will likely initiate a mixer event for eligible producers (who have submitted a solo application to Sharp Shorts) to meet with shortlisted projects – inviting you to make connections rather than us serving as matchmakers.

Do you have to have a crew or will these positions be found and allocated through the process?

You do not need to have any below-the-line crew members attached at the point of application. Shortlisted teams will be expected to source crew themselves during pre-production.

Is there a longer development and production period for animated films?

Yes, we anticipate that selected animation projects may require a longer timeframe and will take this into consideration on a case by case basis.

Can we still apply to the short film fund if we have a script already that is quite developed? 

Yes, and you may upload the script to your writer or writer/director’s account on the BFI NETWORK Postroom, along with their previous work.

With the current climate and restrictions on film and TV production, will shooting dates be postponed until we can shoot safely?

Yes, we will always be following up-to-date government regulation on this matter, and will not expect you to start shooting unless it is deemed safe to do so.

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