Observations: Indy indie hits the screen

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In November, The Independent and Sky Movies gave one independent film-maker the chance to make their own short movie, with a budget of £7,000 to shoot and edit it. Now, the winning director Nicky Lianos's dark comedy Dead Happy will premiere simultaneously on Sky Movies Indie HD, and at a screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (Eiff), on Sunday.

The indie short is written by David Lemon (Faintheart) and stars Alice Lowe (Hot Fuzz), as The Grim Reaper. Fed up with her nine-to-five job, she falls for the love interest played by Dario Bernal, the 19-year old brother of heart-throb Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, in his first English-speaking role.

Lianos is now in development (backed by the UK Film Council's First Feature Film Scheme) for her first feature film, a family comedy, Now You See It, about a boy magician. She is also co-writing the feature-length version of Dead Happy with Lemon. What's the secret of her success? "I'm not making kitchen-sink dramas," Lianos asserts. "I'm making colourful poignant comedies." All of her short films have a fantastical quality to them. 2007's A Hartley Story, about an agoraphobic poet, won best film at the East End Film festival. Monsters and Rabbits, about a boy with an imaginary monster friend, premiered at last year's Eiff. Influenced by directors Baz Luhrmann, David Lynch, Spike Jonze and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Lianos's films are colourful and bright, with animation.

"Although Dead Happy is a ten-minute film, it felt like making Avatar 2," says Lianos. Quite what making the feature film will be like is anybody's guess, but at least she's had a head start.

'Dead Happy' is on Sky Movies Indie HD, 20 June, at 12pm and 8.30pm