Now in its 18th year, Bristol's Encounters Short Film and Animation aims to highlight the importance of the medium as a breeding ground for new film talent. Split into two competitive strands – Brief Encounters for live action films and Animated Encounters – the festival will this year feature 188 films from 36 countries, whittled down from 1,900 submissions. Highlights include 'Umshini Wam' by US director Harmony Korine, 'The Man Phoning Mum' by avant garde filmmaker John Smith, and the Warp Films-produced 'Care' by Amanda Boyle. To celebrate the festival we're offering you an exclusive exert from 'Claw', written and directed by Nathan Hughes...
The idea first came to me when I found out Fred West’s ashes were scattered at the seaside resort of Barry Island – I couldn’t stop thinking about all the kids you see running around on
Dazed Digital: Tell us about 'Claw'...
Nathan Hughes: On the most basic level it’s about a family day out to the seaside. The daughter is obsessed with playing on ‘claw’ arcade machines, but the arcade itself is full of strange misfits and the day
takes an unexpected turn.
DD: What were your creative influences?
Nathan Hughes: The idea first came to me when I found out Fred West’s ashes were scattered at the seaside resort of Barry Island – I couldn’t stop thinking about all the kids you see running around on
the beach. I wondered, if an overly-paranoid parent knew about the ashes, would they start wondering if West’s evilness could be passed to their children through the sand somehow? I’m really interested in
that idea of the primal horror and chaos that lurks underneath an outwardly civilised society, and how it can suddenly erupt.
DD: How did you get involved with Encounters?
Nathan Hughes: Encounters is the first festival we’ve submitted 'Claw' to – it’s a fantastic platform for helping new filmmakers reach a wider audience, especially now they’re doing a lot of stuff online. I was also selected as one of their 10 filmmakers to watch out for, as part of their Future Encounters series.
DD: You used crowd funding to get 'Claw' made. Do you think this will become an important source of revenue for filmmakers as public funding dries up?
Nathan Hughes: I think what’s exciting is all the new models we have for fundraising and distribution. I think we’ll see less money and opportunities for short filmmakers in the traditional routes as they don’t make much – if any – profit. But at the same time, there are new platforms opening up which allow us to reach wider audiences and get ourselves noticed in more unconventional ways.
Text by Jessica Bateman
Encounters Festival is screening shorts ibn Bristol between September 18-23. Nathan Hughes' The Claw is shown Tuesday 18th September (8pm) and Saturday 22nd September (1pm)