By James Twomey
Getting £1m for your birthday is something one can only dream about. But that’s exactly what happened to a director of a short film.
Okay, the cash wasn’t a present – but it was real. It was the prize for his creation of a short film that was shot in 48 hours.
The cash will be used to produce a feature-length film.
The short The Dreamsy, which was shot entirely in Deptford, was created as part of the 48-hour challenge from the Sci Fi London Film Festival competition where creators were given props and a line of dialogue then 48 hours to create a short film.
It was entered into the Cannes Film Festival with the results then announced in Berlin where director, David Cohen, of Lewisham, who has worked as a director for 15 years, collected the £1m prize which happened to be on his birthday.
David said: “It’s an amazing feeling, it was quite intense. When my name was called out it was such a shock. I went on stage and mumbled through a speech, repeated myself a hundred times and thanked everyone a lot.
“I told the audience it was my birthday as well and everyone thought it was hilarious and started singing happy birthday.
“I told them it was definitely the most expensive birthday present I had ever received.”
The film follows a girl who has recurring nightmares about a faceless woman and is given a dream-exploring device from her grandmother.
The girl and her boyfriend explore her dreams but his subconscious begins to alter them, revealing dark secrets about him and his past.
David said: “The idea and the challenge is that the films are made on a shoestring budget because sci-fi films are usually very expensive so the production (team) had to get really creative.
“Everything is made from scratch and you have to pull in all sorts of favours and you end up with some really great collaborations.
“It’s always a nice thing when people want to work with you and you can deliver something to be proud of.
“The money we have won will turn this short into a feature but it also gives us a blank slate to work with and turn the story we made into a really strong feature film.”
All the finalists at the festival were asked to make one last short film to decide the winner, and were given just a script to make something special out of it.
David and his team made a short called Fault Lines.
David said: “It was such an amazing experience, an amazing competition with a very high standard of films. We went into the festival thinking we’ve given it our best but not expecting what happened at all.
“For now we are just developing the plan and the script which will take about six months.
“We hope to have something sorted for next year’s Cannes Film Festival to do a final release by the end of 2020.”