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A chance to see the next Spielberg.

Even the most famous film directors started out making short films. Now a scheme in Cardiff is promoting mini movies by local up-and-coming film-makers. One of them is Keri Collins, who here urges you to lend your support EVERYBODY loves film. There aren't many of us who have never been to the cinema or hired a video or DVD. Most people enjoy a seat for 90 minutes with a bag of sweets and a soft drink to view the latest product from the USA, Britain, Europe, Asia and beyond.

Each film provides a different perspective, style or story to the others, and that is what makes film such a fascinating and popular medium.

There is one thing, however, that all of these various film directors from all of these various countries have in common - they will all have made a short film.

A short film is a valuable and essential part of a budding film director's arsenal.

Very few directors ever make a feature film if they have not made a short film first. Steven Spielberg had made his first short film by the age of 12.

As a director, a short film is a chance to present a microcosm of your ideas, themes and style, usually less than 20 minutes in length.

Making a short film provides vital experience in the process of filmmaking, it is your chance as a filmmaker to prove to the people that matter that you can make a feature film.

I am just completing my BA in Film and Video at Newport Film School (or as it is now known, the International Film School, Wales) and during the three-year course I have been heavily involved in about 10 short film projects.

There are of course many filmmakers who have never been to film school, but there are very few that do not make at least one short film before making the step up into feature films. It is the natural progression.

So what happens to all of these short films?

If I've been involved in 10 on my course - and there are 80 people on my course and then around 100 universities in the UK that provide similar courses, plus the thousands of people who don't even go to university - that's a lot of short films out there every year!

It produces a mini-industry all of its own, with thousands of short films produced within Wales and the wider UK, with the hope that ultimately they will be seen by an audience and to enable the filmmakers to progress onto bigger and better things.

Unfortunately, few ever do find what they're looking for. You can send your film to a festival somewhere else in the world, which is great except that you rarely get to go and gauge the audience reaction.

You may be very lucky and have it broadcast on television or screened before a feature film in the cinema.

Generally speaking though, until recently there were not many opportunities to have your film seen by an audience in Wales.

Back in August 2001, a new opportunity for screening short films came into focus in Wales. Neil Wagstaff and Jason King of Cardiff's Those People Productions Ltd (former Newport Film School students themselves) formed, POV, a monthly event that screened short films in Cardiff.

POV is derived from a filmmaking term meaning 'point of view' and these screenings are all about aspiring filmmakers having their point of view seen by an audience.

The monthly events are very successful with between 50 and 70 people regularly attending to watch the short films, to network with each other or just to have a drink and a laugh.

Held upstairs in Dempsey's pub on Castle Street in Cardiff, this informal setting provides a very relaxed atmosphere for both filmmakers and film fans alike and is sponsored by Sgron and the Arts Council for Wales.

Last September, POV was handed over to Disco Mbobu, a newly-formed independent film company set up by local aspiring filmmakers Richard Bowen and myself, and with the help of our other colleagues we have been responsible for organising POV since then.

It has proven to be a great opportunity for us, one that has provided us with a chance to meet other filmmakers in our locality, some of whom helped us out on our most recent production, A Day Out With Gwyn, starring Frank Kelly, best known as Father Jack in the Channel 4 Bafta-winning sitcom, Father Ted.

Frank plays the part of a grandfather who takes his moody, adolescent grandson to the seaside for a day out.

Today, POV is as popular as ever, but we would like to see more people coming along to support local aspiring filmmakers and of course to enjoy the films for themselves.

You never know you may even see a short film by the next Martin Scorsese or Ridley Scott.

A Day Out With Gwyn is being screened tonight at Dempsey's Bar in Cardiff at 8pm.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 25, 2005
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