Highlights in the hair salon? Films find a new outlet

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The Independent Culture

One could call it cutting edge cinema. An initiative to find an audience for short films from young film makers will see screens installed in hairdressing salons up and down the country.

Customers having their tresses trimmed will be able to view the experimental films on six-inch screens placed by the mirror in front of them.

The Film Council, which is backing the scheme, hopes it will find new audiences among the mainly female clients of more than 500 salons. It will also provide an outlet for the dozens of short films made each year.

Paul Trijbits, head of the Film Council's New Cinema Fund, which backs innovation, said: "Short films are essential to the development of film makers wanting to reach an audience. With limited short film programming in the UK cinemas and little support from broadcasters, this is a fantastic way of providing content to audiences across the UK."

The fund supports more than 150 shorts a year with a budget of £1m. Many are produced under Film Council rules that state they should be no longer than 10 minutes, be shot digitally and cost no more than £10,000.

"This is a way for film makers to find out what kind of stories they want to tell, how they can tell them and if they're any good at telling them. It is also a way to experiment," Mr Trijbits said. "Maybe it is not of paramount importance how many people see them, but the best deserve to be seen."

The first two films to get shown will be Where Were We?, written and directed by Matt Smith, and Clutch, which was written and directed by Carol Stevens. Where Were We? is described as "a gently absurd film" where a couple are dragged into helping a man they have never met. Clutch is described as "a poetic narrative that explores the cusp between childhood and adulthood". It involves a girl, a pony and mutant eggs.

The move is just one in a range of new initiatives from the Film Council to reach more people. The council is putting more money into supporting distribution and is also examining alternatives to conventional cinematic release.

This Is Not A Love Song, a thriller by Bille Eltringham, was released online last month with thousands of people paying to download it.

The hairdresser salon scheme was devised by a company called i-vu, which was founded last year when its managing director, Mike Anstey, decided that hair salons could be enhanced with entertainment. It provides interactive digital screens where customers can choose to view items tailored to the salon they are in. The Film Council shorts will be added to the range of items available. A spokeswoman said that reactions to the screens had been positive