So it’s Saturday night, I’m not at Picocon, and I’m idly surfing the Web…
One of my film society contemporaries from my undergraduate days at Warwick was a chap called Paul Hardy. After we graduated, he threw himself headfirst into film-making and the whole starving-in-a-garret lifestyle (there was a time when I visited and found his flat empty of food, and the fridge with nothing in but a reel of 16mm film that he’d spent that week’s food budget on). He’s had some success over the years, with a BBC Drama Award for one of his shorts (Eyeball Tennis), he’s had a book on microbudget film-making published, and he’s been working with a couple of small production outfits in Coventry (Call the Shots and Leofric Films) more recently.
This is all rather besides the point, however. In 1999, Eyeball Tennis was in competition at the Bristol International Short Film Festival. Although it didn’t win that time, it was shown as part of a competition for ninety second-long films. Ninety seconds isn’t a great amount of time, without space for a conventional narrative, so the films in the competition tended towards the quirky and iconic. My favourite by far was a film by Tom Baxandall; introduced as Atomsk-16, the real title of the film was the rather less snappy Experiment 60713/B. Sadly, it too didn’t win, coming runner-up to Rachel Tillotson’s As I Was Falling.
I’ve seen this film exactly twice: once at the festival, and once when Paul lent me his video copy of the competition entries. Fortunately, the film is now available from the AtomFilms website – well worth a view.