BATD ON Nov 11, 2013 AT 1:03 pm

Virgin Media Shorts Grand Prize Winner 2013 - Touch by Nimer Rashed

Virgin Media Shorts Grand Prize Winner 2013 – Touch by Nimer Rashed

This November the Virgin Media Shorts 2013 took place where Nimer Rashed earned the title of Grand Prize Winner with his poignant short film Touch. The 2 minute film follows the life of a couple through the touching of their hands. The camera angle gives audiences an intimate insight into the relationship as it develops, and it is humbling to witness it from the perspective of a series of simple human gestures that are common to us all.

The audience first witnesses the shy and cautious touches of a first date and early meetings, before brief contact turns into the closeness of holding hands, interlaced fingers whilst making love, the exchanging of rings on the wedding day, all the way through to the tender touch goodbye in old age. It is safe to say that there were few dry eyes in the house as the film was played at the awards event itself.

Nimer Rashed will receive as his prize £30,000 worth of funding towards his next film as well as expert mentoring from the BFI. Take a look at his Grand Prize Winning short film below:

Touch from Nimer Rashed on Vimeo.

What inspired you to make your film?
I wanted to make a film that featured a little bit of everything. Touch features love, life, sex, death and rebirth which is about as much as I could think of cramming into one two-minute film.

I’m a big fan of EM Forster’s phrase “only connect” and my favourite cinematic moments are always about the desire for emotional connection. Cinema’s power to connect people and ideas, images and emotions, sound and light, is what makes unique – and I hope our film manages to achieve some of that.

How long did Touch take to make?
After many weeks of pre-production, we shot the film over one sunny weekend, racing around from location to location as there was just so much to fit in! Unfortunately the shoot conflicted with the Wimbledon final, but we managed to squeeze in a couple of minutes to cheer on Andy Murray in his final moments of victory. The edit took me about three days to complete.

How much money did you spend on it?
Miraculously nothing! All actors gave their time for free, and all the locations were sourced by my wonderful producer Lindsay Fraser who managed to pull off the minor miracle of finding children, a baby, a church all for no money whatsoever – I’m still not quite sure how she did this (she also appears in the film as the granddaughter at the very end).

How many people were involved?
Ten actors, one baby, one producer, one assistant producer and me shooting/editing – so 14 altogether.

How did you recruit your cast and crew?
Lindsay was instrumental in assembling our cast, which is a mixture of friends and contacts from the theatre world.

The crew consisted of me on camera and the wonderful Tom Allott (a prince), who used to work as a runner on music videos and is the coolest man on the planet.

What locations did you select for your film and why?
The locations were dictated by the script – which wasn’t really a script at all, but a list of about 10 or so detailed scenarios – a park, a church, a restaurant, and so on – with a key moment at each stage where the couple touched one another.

I chose these locations to be timeless but specific so that they’d evoke specific memories that old Ellie would hold onto as she sits and recollects her life.

Did you have to cut back on anything in order to save money during filming?
Not that I can think of – because we really didn’t spend any money. This project was conceived to be shot without a budget, and so everything we filmed was stuff we knew we could get in the can without a need for an expensive production spend. All in all, this was a labour of love for all parties concerned – and in the end I went home with two days of rushes, and loads of material to edit.

How did you tailor your approach to ensure you stuck to the 2.20 time limit?
Mostly by shooting tons of material to make sure I’d have plenty for the edit. Finding the music was also a key part of the puzzle – I stayed up until the wee hours trawling for library music as I knew we wouldn’t have time to get a composer, and eventually found a track that had the quality I was looking for on Audio Network called “Beautiful Imperfections” by David O’Brien and Gareth Johnson. The rest of the timing was down to the editing – and withholding sleep until the film was finally submitted…

What was the best bit about making Touch?
Honestly, what I enjoyed most was the process of collaborating with a team of artists who all collaborated and contributed and enjoyed themselves in exactly the way you would hope for. It’s been my best filmmaking experience to date.

What was your biggest worry during filming?
As I shot everything myself, I was mostly worried about the look – I’m self-taught as far as cameras are concerned so things like focus-pulling are always difficult to pull off.

If you win, what would you do with the £30,000 film funding?
I have a few short film scripts I’ve been sitting on, but more than any specific idea /story, what excites me is the prospect of working with the same team again – the joy of filmmaking really comes from assembling talented people around you, and I’d love to do that on a larger scale: to tell a story on a larger canvas, with the help of a team I trust and admire.

Find out more here.

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