Every month, it's easy to find me and a growing number of faithfuls at Shorts on Tap at the Juno Shoreditch. We enjoy some of the most artful, impressive, bizarre and sometimes hysterical short films from the UK and abroad. The event, helmed by Filippo Polesel and Michele Fiascaris, has become wonderfully popular in recent months, and this week will debut at its new location, the storied Cafe 1001 on Brick Lane.
An evening at Shorts on Tap is comprised of a number of pre-selected films divided into three segments. At the top of each segment, any directors in attendance can come up and introduce their films. At the bottom of the segment, the directors return to answer any questions from the jury. The jury is usually made up of directors whose work has previously appeared at Shorts on Tap, and has also included bloggers, journalists, film festival organisers, and the every-day film lover. At the end of the night, the three best films of the evening are chosen, and the winners get to sit on the jury at the next event.
I caught up with Filippo Polesel to get a bit more background Shorts on Tap, and to get a glimpse into the event's fabulous future. Enjoy!
CR: So how did Shorts on Tap get started?
FP: Around a year ago, I was watching football at the Juno, and we went there by chance looking for a big screen to see the match. I always remembered the venue for their screen. A year later I was thinking of a venue to showcase my own short film, called Time and Space. It’s a music video for my band Shambala, which I’m the bassist for. Since it’d been such a long process to put out my first short , I was thinking of having a proper launch, including the band, and a showcase for the film and all the people who helped work on it. The Juno came to mind as a venue for this, but then I realised, my video’s only seven minutes long! So I may as well see if I can get some other people on board, and see if I can do a night with my video and other people’s videos too. So I posted an advert on Mandy looking for material from different directors to play alongside my own. I got 100 emails back, with loads of links and all that. In the end I didn’t even showcase my own short film, but I started Shorts on Tap instead as a result of the response. My own short probably won’t be out until September of this year.
CR: So how do you select the films once you get the avalanche of submissions from around the web?
FP: Well after that comes the fun bit! Michele and I sit and watch the films. Michele is a film teacher so he has criteria for selection. We categorise all the films under certain topics, and then we see if we have enough films to pull off an event. We watch every film we receive all the way through, and we group them under different umbrellas. So if we got a good bunch of them about love, for example, we build the event around that. We may have an event for music videos soon. There’s another possible one about gangs and gangsters, because we’ve received quite a few films about that topic. It’s like a game really, watching the films and thinking what box they could fall into. It gets exciting when a film can fall into a number of categories.
CR: One thing that makes Shorts on Tap such a fun event is that it’s just about people that like shorts – it’s not a competition or something ritzy – it’s like going over to someone’s house and watching some movies.
FP: Yeah, that’s the idea, to have an inclusive and relaxed vibe for showcasing people’s work. People work so hard on their films, and it’s so underestimated because they’re short films. The public might think they’re a bit lower quality than a feature can be because of their length. But it’s not like that at all – they’re condensed ideas but that doesn’t mean that they’ve worked any less on them. These directors have worked hard and deserve to be showcased, and talk about and get some feedback on it. These things could help them progress with their ideas and see what people think. In the future we’d like to have an annual festival to showcase the best of the year in one big night, or maybe three nights. We could choose the best of the best films, and that could add a competition element.
CR: Shorts on Tap’s attendance has definitely overgrown the cozy space at the Juno. How did you get into the new place at Cafe 1001?
FP: Cafe 1001 on Brick Lane was one of the original choices for Shorts on Tap, but then I thought that maybe it’d be wiser to start somewhere smaller, especially given Cafe 1001’s history with film nights like The Reel. So the Juno was a good place to start, and now after six months there and having a full house a few times, now is just the right time to move forward into a bigger venue. The Juno’s got a great vibe and we want to keep it as a venue but for a different event. Cafe 1001 is definitely the place for our larger following. And it’s great that it’s already got a name for itself for screening films.
CR: What kind of events do they normally have there?
FP: They have a bi-monthly animation event there called See No Evil, one-off events, screenings and premieres, The Reel of course. They also have things like DJ sets and organise parties there. It’s a very popular venue.
CR: How big is the following for Shorts on Tap now?
FP: We’ve got about 2,000 likes on Facebook. Six months is pretty good, the growth is steady, and I’m hoping we get 3,000 by the end of the year so we could put on our festival. It’ll continue to be a free event at the new venue as long as we can organize it that way – if it requires more and more time and resources we may have to charge one day, and that would be pretty symbolic too. But at the moment it’s totally free. It’s free to submit the films and free to attend the events.