Student Film: New and original student films at the Cambridge Shorts

Arenike Adebajo 15 May 2016

Mark Danciger is noticeably excited as I talk to him on the banks of the Cam, “there’s hasn’t been a critical mass surrounding student created films in Cambridge for a while, we’ve planned this event for a long time and we’ve got some great short films to show”. He is referring to the Cinecam Cambridge Shorts showcase at the ADC on Tuesday 17 May: an event that’s the culmination of a huge amount of work from Mark and his fellow filmmakers at Cinecam.

“It’s impossible to work on a long film”, he explains, “an hour long TV pilot took the best part of two years for us to make with a crew of 100, not to mention the cost”. Mark is particularly keen to raise the profile of film as an extra-curricular activity to get as many people involved as possible. “It’s like the theatre scene; for some people it’s a future career, for others it’s just a really enjoyable experience.” He believes that short films are the perfect way to get valuable experience whilst retaining the likelihood that you get to witness the fruits of your labour.

“It’s hard work,” he chuckles, “I was basically on set for the entire week that we were shooting Tachyon, the film I wrote and directed for the showcase. The crew were amazing too, we had to build the set, film, and pack up all within a week. Now there are just a couple finishing touches in post-production and it will be done, it’s amazing”.

Tachyon tells the story of a scientist who puts all of her efforts into the creation of a machine that can send messages into the past. “It’s a sci-fi film, but it’s based in real science. That means that the logic has lots of twists and turns, it asks the audience to think a bit to keep up with it but I think it should be really interesting” he casually explains, after having relayed to me the theory of a tachyonic anti-telephone, “I like thrillers that are based in science; I study some philosophy of science so I was able to ask my supervisor for help with the theories behind it, whilst stylistically there are elements of Primer and Pi in there”

It predictably hasn’t been an easy journey for the Cinecam members: “Two years ago it was basically a dead society. Since then we’ve been aiming for a showcase of this type. A group of us made a huge effort to foster interest in filmmaking amongst students. Now, after there being little to no films when we restarted the society, we made nine films last term alone.” When I ask him about the process behind their making, he tells me that “some people specialise into certain roles pretty early on, whilst others play the field a bit. There’s a writers’ group who provide each other with constructive feedback and it grows from there.”

Cinecam members have every reason to be excited about Cambridge Shorts; “It’s not a matter of commercial viability”, muses Mark, “but there will always be a market for short films in a festival format, and people do it for the experience more than anything else. I’m glad that a platform is being provided to showcase the work of the Cambridge film community.”

Tachyon will be screened along with Nathan Miller’s drama about a prestigious summer camp: OUTSIDERS; Bekzhan Sarsenbay’s piece about a theatre troupe in the midst of a national revolution: Prelude; Tom O Mara’s office-based comedy Clive Benderman; and Johnny King’s exploration of solitude: OWL#307 as part of the ADC late show on Tuesday 17 May.


Tickets for the Cinecam Cambridge Shorts showcase are available from the ADC website.