Short Films and Festivals (Wheels Update)

Just over a year ago Turtle Canyon Media were just processing the rushes from a successful shoot in Islington, London. The following seven months saw those rushes transformed into a short film called ‘Wheels’. We last updated you about ‘Wheels’ in March and signed off with the statement: Now, to the festivals!. Stuart updates you…

Once you finish a short film the next step is generally either: upload to YouTube or start applying to the film festivals in the pursuit of fame and adulation and MILLIONS OF POUNDS (no exaggeration). As soon as we had a final cut of the film we started applying to film festivals all around the world. The process has been made much easier these days with services such as Withoutabox allowing you to fill in the details for your film, uploading a screener and then displaying upcoming festivals in a very handy list. Gone are the days of printing out application forms, writing out the same synopsis ten times a day, burning a DVD screener (or even exporting to VHS!) and then lumbering down to the mail room with arms full of hope and jiffy bags.

(Withoutabox is also linked to The Internet Movie Database, a website that I used to spend hours on, just trawling through the trivia sections on films, working out who that actor was in the courtroom scene and wishing that I was a film-maker and had my own small piece of the database.)

The film festival route is not a cheap option though and with each festival application costing between $40 and $80 it can really challenge the wallets of most film-makers who have maxed out their credit cards just to get their dream project made. The film festival route sounds even more ominous if you also consider the fact that a person I know, whose job it was to watch every film that was submitted to a festival, admitted that they would dismiss some films even though they had been in the kitchen making a cup of tea for the majority of the running time.





It was five months ago that we started to submit Wheels to film festivals and have, so far, racked up 25 separate submissions. This is where short films enter into a weird stasis, existing, complete, but unseen by anyone. If you’re making films then I would assume that a primary reason would be to get them seen by an audience, if you finish a film and then immediately upload it to YouTube or Vimeo then you could have an immediate audience. Most of the festivals we have submitted to haven’t even reached their submission deadlines yet, and so we wait, wait for the chance to show the film that we’re all so proud of to the world. If you also consider that if your film does get accepted to a film festival and you have the desire to go to that film festival, it can cost you hundreds of pounds/dollars, even if the festival is in your country of residence.

The other aspect of film-making is personal expression, you’re announcing to the world that you consider a private thought you once had is worth turning into a film for the judgement of other people. So far 12 film festivals have made that judgement and we have received 8 rejections. The ratio of accepted to rejected with ‘Wheels’ is probably pretty decent but you have to be prepared to receive very nicely written emails that crush your spirits and make you question why you ever thought you could make films. With ‘Wheels’, as the editor, I was a step removed from the spirit-crushing but am currently at the start of the film festival process with a film that I wrote, directed and starred in; once those rejection emails start flying I may seriously consider listening to The Smiths again (I’m trying to be funny, I never stopped).

So far Wheels has been officially selected for the Real to Reel Film Festival in Kings Mountain, NC, the Tacoma Film Festival and is a Top 10 finalist at the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival. Perhaps the most prestigious achievement for the film thus far is the upcoming UK premiere. On Wednesday night/Thursday morning (1:15am to be precise) Wheels is being screened on Channel 4 (a major terrestrial TV channel to those who are unaware of Channel 4). We’re excited.

We’re very proud of what we have achieved with ‘Wheels’ and will wait patiently, refreshing our Inbox, to see if any of the film selectors at any of the remaining 13 festivals decided to wait until our film was finished before making a cup of tea. Until then please, please watch/record the film on Channel 4 and be our audience, we’d really like one.

To find out more about ‘Wheels’ please visit our mini-site at for the latest updates. Below is writer/director David Begg being interviewed about the film.


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