Best Young Filmmaker at Reed Short Film Competition

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Shiona Penrake – Best Young Filmmaker at Reed Short Film Competition

Last night was something of a double whammy on the theme of ‘family business’. At least, it was for us as a family, anyway.

A few weeks ago we heard that Shiona Penrake’s directing debut The Paintbrush (in its shorter form of under 3 minutes) had made the longlist of The Reed Short Film Competition, 2014.

The Paintbrush happens to be a short film directed by Shiona, written by her and me, her dad, who produced. The lead was played by Shiona’s brother, Jay. Even Shiona’s mum, photographer Kaori Ando, helped with the painting you see in the film, and Shiona’s younger sister, Saina, 14, helped design the poster that we sent off to Shorts International last year when we got a distribution deal for the full-length version of the film. So you could say it was truly a family affair for us as well.

The theme for the competition was ‘Family Business’. 490 films were entered.  12 had made it to the longlist. Would we win a prize?

The screening of the last 12 took place at BAFTA in Piccadilly and kicked off at 7 pm Thursday, May 8th, with champagne and canapés. We were met and welcomed by Lynn Cahillane from Reed and asked to pose for photos.

Reed had produced posters for each of the entries and placed them around the room.  I liked ours – I liked most of them, come to that – although I thought the tagline on ours a bit tame.

Around 8 pm, the show got on the road. I was impressed by all of the entries. There was a clear leaning toward comedy and there were a few documentaries in there, too. Not one of them failed to entertain.

Being an ad man, I thought it was pretty clear A Good Bitch would win. Not only was it beautifully shot and edited, it was the closest in the bunch to meeting the brief.

With the films finished, on came the esteemed guests to announce the winners. The first to be announced was for the Best Young Filmmaker. And this went to… they couldn’t seem to find or read the name…. “Shiona Penrake!”

I was sitting next to Shiona as her name was read out. I looked at her and said, “That’s you.” She looked completely stunned. “Go on, up you go,” I said. And so she did. Somehow she managed to find her tongue and, before a very warm audience, said a few words about the making of the film, thanking cast and crew, etc. She wasn’t in tears, but she was quite overcome with emotion and gratitude.

I spoke to Reed’s chairman, James Reed, on our way out of the cinema and he told me 40% of the entries had been from under 25s, so Shiona did pretty well to achieve what she did. And her win was that much sweeter having been up against tough competition.

After the ceremony, we returned to the main room where we were offered wine and little dishes of hot food. I felt Reed’s hospitality on the night was a cut-above – I’m used to one or two glasses of house wine and some crisps at these sorts of events.

We met the Grand Prix winner, Rhys Edwards, on the way out – he seemed the nicest most modest guy, and we were very happy for him to have won top prize.

A couple of days later Lynn wrote to say Shiona was the first woman director to win a Reed Award and the youngest ever.

Apparently some of the shorts – and presumably all the winners – will be screened on Channel 4 in the near future – another bit of useful exposure for Shiona and our little film.

But before I sign off on this post, my family and I wish to thank all those people who supported the film, from the judges to our actors and wonderful crew and our Indiegogo donors. That people are still coming up to us and admitting to wiping away a tear at the end of the film still moves me. Thank you all of you who helped make Shiona’s night such a memorable occasion!