A bit of a change for the Chris Vs Cinema blog today and it comes with a little story, so I guess I’d better start from the beginning.
Whilst gently perusing the internet and listening BBC radio I heard esteemed film critic Mark Kermode describe the Northernmost film festival in Britain which takes place in Shetland. He recommended watching the short film Masks by Maddrim Media as it opened the festival last year.
So I watched it and I was pretty impressed, it shows a good understanding of pacing and manages to make a tight short film based around an issue without being preachy or infantile. This is most unlike my own formative experience of making a short film. One about the dangers of taking ecstasy, which displayed none of the above attributes and also had the misfortune of starring me. If you fancy watching Masks, I’ve embedded it here…
Follow the link at the top of this article to watch more Maddrim shorts.
As an additional bonus for you lucky people reading this I managed to get hold of Chris Halcrow, the Chairperson of Maddrim Media, and squeeze some answers out of him about the group and their activities….
Chris Vs Cinema: How old are you chaps and how/when did Maddrim Media get started?
Chris @Maddrim: We’re all within the age range of 13-19. Maddrim was started in 2006 by Ms Aidan Nicol who was really interested in film and media. She contacted Shetland Arts (http://www.shetlandarts.org/) and the Youth Services Department who were both eager to help. Shetland Arts acquired funding to buy equipment to hire out to people (free of charge) and so we use their equipment and they pay for workshops to help us when and if we need it. The Youth Services Department help with the admin type stuff and doing some of the dirty work.
CvC: Dirty work?
C@Maddrim: Yeah, no one was keen on asking a graveyard if we could film there, so we got our trusty Youth Worker to do it!
CvC: Ha! I see, so what is the plan for Maddrim in 2009.
C@Maddrim: The plan is to just keep making films. For a while we’ve been trying to branch out, but we had a bit of an epiphany, after a horrific radio project, that it was film we really wanted to do! We’re currently trying to recruit a new wave of guys since a lot of us are off to university this month. So until Christmas it’s a case of getting the new guys up to speed, then we’ll be starting the fun process of making films for the summer. Hopefully we’re getting some cash for real props which will be quite exciting.
CvC: You’ll certainly be helped by your celebrity patron, what can you tell me about the connection between Maddrim and Mark Kermode?
C@Maddrim: Mark comes up for the annual Screenplay festival and he was very kind to us about our films. He really encouraged us and last year we impressed him with our growth (mind you, the films for our first year were horrifically bad!). It’s always a nice atmosphere with Mark and he seems to like us.
CvC: It’s fantastic that he is getting involved like that; he’s really complimentary on the radio when mentioning you. What is this talk of a screening at the festival taking place at a bus stop?
C@Maddrim: Well, Mark is headed to Unst on Thursday. It is the northernmost populated island in Britain and it happens to have a fantastic bus stop in it. It’s got tonnes of stuff in it – a TV, decorations, a laptop etc. Shetland Arts have organised a film screening for Mark and his Mum and some of our members are being the ushers, it should be fun!
CvC: Mark Kermode pointed out that Masks is available to watch on YouTube, I’ve watched the rest of the films on there and I think Masks especially shows some real promise. Will we see any more activity on YouTube after the upcoming Screenplay ’09 festival?
C@Maddrim: You can expect a LOT of action on YouTube. We have 12 films waiting to get put up over the next couple of months from this year’s film festival – including a sequel to Stallion Head! We’ve also just started up www.maddrim.com, which is lacking content wise at the moment but should be getting busier as time goes on!
CvC: Good stuff, I’m looking forward to watching it. If nothing else I’m interested in seeing a bit more of the Shetland scenery, you’ve got some pretty dramatic backdrops at your disposal.
C@Maddrim: We sure do. We’re hoping to have a residential film making weekend in one of the northerly islands in the near future – plenty of awe-inspiring scenery there!
CvC: And what for the future, what do you want to achieve with Maddrim?
C@Maddrim: Next year we’d like to enter our films into some other festivals if we can push the quality up there.
I’d like to wish them luck with that because I think it’s great that cinema can exist like this and be a constructive force in a community. I’d also love to see pictures of Mark Kermode watching a film in what sounds like an amazing bus stop.