Here are a couple of items in follow up to my earlier post about the lack of hard data on short film making and distribution in the UK.
First up, Adrian Hope (Web and Information Officer, Arts Group, British Council) has kindly provided details about how the British Council collects the short film information published in the British Films Catalogue, which forms the basis of the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Film UK Guide to British Film.
We get a lot of shorts submitted this way but for features we often have to contact production and distribution companies directly to get them to provide us with the information. Generally we do this annually (around this time of the year) as part of getting the print publication ready, although we also do this at other times, for example if there are British films showing at festivals which are not on our site. The content of the catalogue is replicated online (although the online version is more up to date as films go onto it immediately).
The online submission form explains more how we deal with verification and there is a legal statement at the bottom. Basically we trust whoever submits the form to provide us with the right information, and if there is a problem (every couple of months we get people saying they should be credited or that other information is wrong) we contact whoever gave us the information originally for clarification. We generally get information from either a film maker or producer themselves, or representatives in production or distribution companies. If someone completes a form and they are clearly unconnected with the film, we would at least check and probably reject the listing (although, this situation rarely happens.)
We also have a ‘films in progress’ section where we put up information on films we know of that are at least at the principal photography stage. Here we are less stringent with where the information comes from and add info about films our film advisors know about as well as ones submitted directly by film makers.
Once the submission form is sent we check it, for issues as above and spelling, standardising the contact details and general tidying up, and then we post it on the site.'
There's no doubt the British Films Catalogue offers a valuable listings service for UK films, helping to promote them internationally. But because the underlying database is not directly accessible to users it’s impossible to drill down into the information or to run even basic analyses. For example, each short film profile contains information about what format the work was shot in, and it would be interesting to chart the rise in use of DV and other digital formats over time. This task isn't possible from the publicly accessible front end of the database.
Meanwhile over at Shooting People, Ingrid Kopp (Head of US Operations) has posted a link to a booklet offering tips on web 2.0 opportunities for short film makers (that's makers of short films, not diminutive auteurs). The resource accompanied the Short Sighted event hosted by Shooting People and BAFTA in September. The booklet is available as a free PDF and also contains contact information for short film sales agents, details of the top shorts festivals and other useful organisations. In addition you can find links to DIY distribution sites, downloading and DVD-on-demand sites as well as other places providing access (free or otherwise) to shorts.