I only tend to go to the cinema when I feel fairly assured already of liking the film in question, but if one day I should happen to pick a dodgy one by mistake I hope I will find some consolation in the extras. I used to be bored by adverts and trailers as a child, but I don’t mind them now. I can always snooze through the preliminaries if I’m feeling tired.
Recently, though, the advent of Virgin Media Shorts has added a new layer of enjoyment to moviegoing. I imagine this is what it was like in the war, where you would have a Mickey Mouse or a Donald Duck before you made it to Robert Donat and Greer Garson. Virgin Media Shorts is a competition open to (predominantly young, I suspect) UK-based filmmakers, with the reward of funding and door-opening. Before the feature, then, one now sees one of several entries to the competition. Most recently I saw Luke Snellin’s lovely Mixtape, a film of almost but not quite excessive charm starring Bill Milner of Son of Rambow fame, which won the 2009 competition.
The quality of the films submitted for the competition varies, but I can have nothing but praise for the initiative, which must give great inspiration and encouragement to people with dreams of seeing their work on the big screen. It’s a celebration of the smart, the absurd and the offbeat, and it’s nice to be reminded what can be achieved in a couple of minutes. I’d certainly endorse browsing the site and trying out the goods. I remember laughing at Serdar Ferit’s Elevator Music several months ago, and the combination of comic/tragic narrative, melancholy soundtrack and deliberate borderline pretentiousness of Tim Key’s The Transaction I find quite moving. It can’t be easy to achieve such apparent artlessness.