SAE short Film competition winner revealed

02 Jul 2020

SAE is excited to announce that the winner of the SAE Short Film competition is SAE Glasgow student, Rhianonne Stone, whose film ‘Smile’ impressed the expert industry judges. 

The challenge was to create a film that was just 60-seconds long using a mobile phone, while shooting the project at home during lockdown. Watch Rhianonne’s winning entry below to avoid spoilers, before you continue reading.

Rhianonne’s film was shot on an iPhone 6 and she walked us through her idea generation process, telling us: “I started with writing down about 20 or so ideas that would have the terrible picture quality of my iPhone 6 as a part of the narrative since that's all I had to work with, then I chatted to my lecturers about what would be the best ideas. They told me to go for a set-up and punchline type structure which narrowed things down to nearly none of my previous ideas. Instead of getting disheartened I then thought about what would be realistically achievable given what I had to work within my house and then work backwards from that. I had a lot of plastic lying around from a previous photoshoot so I decided to cover my furniture with it to be some kind of starting point for a set, then that forced the narrative to be either a paint job or a murder, and I decided murder was far more exciting. After that, the rest just seemed logical! Why would a murderer film the act on their phone? Either to demand a ransom or prove they did the murder. Ransom seemed a bit too dark for a punchline so why would they have to prove they carried out the murder? Easy - so they could get paid. I also love female psychopaths and don't think that crime fiction has enough of them and since I had my beautiful best friend at my disposal, I decided it would be fun to start the video with her taking a selfie because she looked cute then have it descend into something dark and twisted... so there was my punchline! A pair of narcissistic normal young lassies turn out to be killers for hire and honestly, that's exactly the kind of movies I want to see more of! Plus my friend's boyfriend was perfectly happy being taped to a chair for an hour or so while we did several takes so it meant I didn't have to and could focus on planning the way it was shot getting just enough of the plastic in to create curiosity, but not give the game away too early.” 

The films were all judged by a panel of expert judges, who took the time to provide feedback to each of the participants. 

Commenting on Rhianonne’s winning project, Ian Gathard, Managing Director at Junction Eleven Creative Agency said: “It perfectly integrated the iPhone and the competition's online nature into the storytelling. It stuck strongly to the principle of “show, don’t tell. It presented a story fit for the time length, rather than truncating a longer story. Without any exposition, it completely and successfully flipped its narrative and character development. It did not feel the need to explain its ending, the idea was strong enough to embrace ambiguity.” 

Leroy Kincaide, Filmmaker and Nocturnal Pictures Owner said: “For this little number I really liked how the sound of the duck tape off camera pulls the viewer in more. Sound is a huge part of what is seen as the cinematic experience and out of all the students who submitted Rhianonne's SMILE was the only short to utilise an element of sound off camera. I also have to comment that the attention to detail on the plastic wrap over the table and chairs in the background, was a really nice touch and added to the fact that something sinister could be about to happen? Great work. I wish all the students every success on their film careers and hope to see them shine bright one day in the film industry.” 

Luke Walton and Pete Sinclair from The Pitch Film Fund said: “Particularly impressed with the sound design on this one. What’s the tape being used for in the background? Mysterious. Also, you cleverly use the camera to limit the release of information to the audience. You made us think of the golden phrase ‘tell me more’. Having said that this film might have benefitted from being a bit tauter. You could have landed the punchline in 30 seconds rather than 60.” 

Rhianonne won a Final Draft subscription as the prize for winning the competition. 

She said: “I am so proud of what we created together and just elated to have had two of my best friends involved, but I am especially happy that the first movie I ever wrote and shot was worthwhile and so grateful to the judges for picking our work! I can't wait to get started on Final Draft - I nearly bought it myself and it is just incredible and beyond belief to have been picked as the winner and have something I've written commended in such a big way by such amazing judges! Thank you all!” 

Well done to Rhianonne, and thanks to everyone who took part in the competition!