With only one week left to register your short film for this year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF), we spoke to festival regular Thomas Guerrier about previous success, plans for this year’s festival and what keeps him entering every year. Thomas makes up one part of the multi-award winning British filmmaking duo the Guerrier Brothers, whose short film Cleaning Up won Best Thriller at ASFF and has screened at festivals worldwide. The deadline for ASFF 2013 is 31 May.
A: You entered ASFF in both 2011 and 2012. What is it about the festival that makes you want to keep coming back?
TG: It just has a really great vibe. I’ve been to lots of festivals since 2011 and ASFF is my personal favorite. Of course, winning an award is going to give me a bias, but I think ASFF has got the perfect balance, both for how it helps new filmmakers and for how very open it is to the public. Also, York is a fun city to host the festival – everything is in walking distance and the venues are great!
A: From the two years you been in attendance at ASFF, what has been your highlight?
TG: I guess winning! Cleaning Up, our 2011 entry, was the first serious short I’d made so there was a lot riding on it. ASFF was the third festival it played at, so to get such a good response so early was a huge relief for everyone involved. It gave us the confidence to get the film in front of as many people as we could.
A: Aside from the thriller category, which genre stood out to you the most at last year’s festival?
TG: I really enjoyed the documentary category this year. T Gleeson’s Home in particular was excellent. The great thing about ASFF is that the venues are so close together and the schedule is worked out so well that there’s always a category you can dip into at any time of the day, meaning that you end up seeing a lot more shorts than you would at other festivals. It’s like a treasure hunt!
A: Why do you think festivals such as ASFF are so important for filmmakers?
TG: Festivals focused exclusively on shorts are interesting in that they are still quite a recent thing; since digital filmmaking has come along these festivals have exploded. Whilst there are short film festivals of varying size happening every week all over the world, what makes ASFF stand out is that you can get so much back from screening your film there. Not only did we win an award, we made some great contacts within the industry and also made friends among fellow filmmakers along the way.
A: What advice would you give to filmmakers who are currently starting out on their careers?
TG: Make something! There’s never been a better time to make a film. Ten years ago you had to have serious money to do it, but now you can do it for so little – you have no excuse! This is what makes filmmaking so exciting now. For such a long time you could only justify making a short if it was going to have a serious impact on your career. Now you can do it for nothing more than the sheer joy of it, which is the best way to approach this kind of thing really.
A: Cleaning Up won the ASFF thriller category in 2011, and also had great success at a number of other festivals nationwide. What do you feel made this film in particular so popular?
TG: I really couldn’t say. We did spend a very long time on it though. The script was first written in 2006, but it wasn’t filmed until 2010 so perhaps that had something to do with it. Someone once commented that it “didn’t have a wasted frame”, which was a huge compliment. You spend the whole process repeatedly asking yourself how you can make it better, so when the film is finished you can’t help but continue to analyse every aspect. Every time I watch it there are moments that make me cringe because I don’t think I got it right, but then someone will say that that’s their favourite bit! It’s very weird.
A: What can we expect from your entry this year?
TG: Something very different from Cleaning Up. It’s a comedy about the gun powder plot called The Plotters. We made it last year for the Virgin Media Shorts competition and got to the final. Based on that success we’ve made another comedy short called Wizard, which made the final for a Hat Trick comedy shorts competition. Comedy is something we’ll be doing a lot more of in the future.
A: Tell us about the projects you’re currently working?
TG: Right at this moment we’re gearing up to sell Cleaning Up to raise development money for a feature film. We had a great response from the industry with the short but raising funds is extremely difficult. Cleaning Up was co-produced by an audio production company called Big Finish, so we’ll be selling the short as an online download from their site. But with all these things it takes a lot of planning to get it right. I’ve just delivered all the content (including commentary and behind the scenes clips) and am now cutting a trailer for it. Watch this space!
Thomas Guerrier, more info at www.guerrierbrothers.com
ASFF 2013 will run 7 – 10 November across the city of York, submit your film before the 31 May at www.asff.co.uk.
1. Cleaning Up, courtesy of Thomas Guerrier and Vimeo.