Short films that are long on comedy

Shooting the Breeze is an exciting new night that showcases films made by and starring comedians

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The Independent Culture

I saw Catherine Tate’s latest comedy last week. It wasn’t on television, or in a theatre, but in a small independent cinema in south London.

In Not Sophie’s Choice, Tate plays a sex-crazed suburbanite, Hunderby’s Alex Macqueen plays her randy husband and Skye Lucia Degruttola plays their daughter, Sophie, who is about to get some very bad news.

Not Sophie’s Choice was the opening salvo at Shooting the Breeze, a new short film night run by the comedian/actress/film-maker Rachel Stubbings. Also on the bill were three one-minute episodes of The Wankers, a pitch-perfect spoof of The Kooples fashion adverts written and performed by Diane Morgan (Weekly Wipe’s Philomena Cunk) and Alistair Green, directed by Jim Owen.

Stand-up Brett Goldstein’s For Life was a touching, futuristic London love story co-starring Laura Haddock. There was a first look at Mosquito, an unfinished and unsettling short film from Bafta-nominated Ben Mallaby starring Alice Lowe and Richard Herring. And Stubbings showed a work-in-progress about a pair of conjoined twins, co-starring Mike Wozniak.

In all, it was a hilarious, inspiring and occasionally uncomfortable mixed bag. Many of the films’ cast and crew were in the audience to say a few words about their work. The hour came to a close with a trailer for Nina, Forever, a gory new romcom due out in February, and a Q&A with the film-makers, the Blaine Brothers. “I always like to finish on a feature film to give everyone hope,” says Stubbings.

She came up with the idea for Shooting the Breeze because so many of her friends were making films in their spare time, often for no money. “Then after all that work, people watch the finished article on their iPad, laptop or tiny phone. Shooting the Breeze puts beautiful, short, cinematic pieces up on the silver screen where they belong.”

It’s a valuable platform for mini cinematic gems that might otherwise fly under the radar, only to be seen at specialist film festivals, or be lost amid the dross online. Stubbings unearths her films via friends and by trawling websites like Vimeo, where she happened across American absurdist MP Cunningham. She has staged four nights so far, featuring Steve Oram (Sightseers) in a film about a lads’ road trip that takes a sinister turn and Scroobius Pip among others.

At the next edition, in November, she plans to show Across the Sea, about a boy who steals a woman’s phone and starts to follow her, which is produced by Mathew Baynton, as well as a preview of The Ghoul starring  Dan Skinner and Paul Kaye. 

“There’s a lot more freedom in short films,” says Stubbings. “All of the best stuff I watch now is not on television. The budget for TV is so small, you think what’s the point? And you have to jump through so many hoops about the language, script and who you can and can’t use in it. Let’s make it ourselves, put it out there and at least people will see it.”

Why not? The future’s bright, the future’s breezy.

Shooting the Breeze, 26 November, Shortwave Cinema, London (www.rachelstubbings.com)

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