The End Of An Era


Neilson Black’s self proclaimed ‘last short film’ Paradis, will be streaming online in March 2018. Going into the film, Neilson had the mindset of ‘going for broke’ meaning the project had to be good or it was time to do something else because he was five short films in and none of them did much on the festival circuit. Imperatively Paradis broke the mould; it is Neilson’s highest accolade to date; screening in six international festivals notably Orlando Film Festival and winning Best Film at Dorking Film Festival.


For Neilson, his short films were a practice ground for his directing, working with people, finding his style and voice in movies and understanding how the festival circuit works. The future aim being to direct in the long form, but usually one has to earn their stripes in the short form first. The festival circuit is one of the best ways to gain notability for films and receiving laurels gives credibility. This route into full length projects isn’t the only way, but probably the most common, and which Neilson followed. Paradis brought Neilson’s short film outings full circle.


But the film was slow out of the gates after its premier screening at The Flying Dutchman, Camberwell, London on 25th May 2016. It didn’t see its first festival selections until much later that year: Zambia Short Film Festival and Shekino International Film Festival – two small festivals. Then a draught followed. Submissions can be expensive and the start of 2017, for Paradis, was experiencing the losing side to that.


Then a switch of gear, like a wave, when things pick up they can snowball. The next selection was Dorking Film Festival which Paradis won Best Film, followed by a return to Southend on Sea Film Festival which opened for the brilliant Things To Come starring Isabelle Huppert (a screening Neilson is proud of). This was Neilson’s second visit to the festival, first being selected in 2015 for his short film Set Point. Another draught followed.



In due course the submissions were evaporating, then when the least was expected an official selection for the big Orlando Film Festival landed. This was the most important selection to date and also allowed Neilson to visit America for the first time. Later, and out of blue, he was contacted by Portobello Film Festival to screen, a submission he made in person one year prior and forgot about. Neilson persisted a selection to this festival since he started making films, it was another full turn, and was in competition for Best British Drama, but losing out to To Dream.


Finally, late in 2017 Paradis was Long-listed for Winchester Short Film Festival. Neilson hoped to screen at this one, having made the festivals 2016 Shortlist with his filmThe Voice. Besides festivals, Paradis played at about a dozen film nights all over the country, some he attended others not, either way the film still reaching the eyes of different audiences, getting out there. Paradis was more successful than all Neilson’s previous shorts put together, which speaks volume, legitimising an attempt at a long form, to be New You


Before the script was written, Paradis was always meant to be a medium-length film (featurette) acting as a ‘warm up’ to a full-length. Neilson mentioned this in previous articles he’d written about the film. The first cut which showed at the films premier; 50 minutes in length, became the Directors Cut version. The second offering; 34 minutes, became the Theatrical Release and played at Portobello Film Festival, but mainly screened at the film nights. The Festival Cut; 17 minutes, was to become the main version targeted especially for festivals.


Apparently where short films are concerned, the nearer they are to 8-12 minutes the better chance they have at screening in festivals – schedule reasons play a factor. A lot of Paradis’ screening success came from the decision to cut a 17 minute version (a big decision and lesson Neilson made and learned). But still the practice of handling a longer narrative was the objective, so Neilson gained experience in both areas.


Almost two years on from the premier event, the films screening life ends and its future will be served online (festival and theatrical versions). It hopes to contribute to well-known streaming platforms; festival version to stream free, theatrical will be paid. However before that there will be an ‘Online Launch Screening’ to showcase the movie one last time live, accompanied by other short films, creating a film night and bringing filmmakers together to network, play and promote each other’s work. The event takes place at The Ivy, 40 Stuart Street, Nunhead, London, SE5 3BE on Thursday 1st March 2018.


Now Neilson has officially ‘crossed over’ to the feature film world, not to say he will never return to a short film one day, but for now it is goodbye. The result of Paradis was an outcome needed to take the next step in his career. A happy chapter closed, but not forgotten.


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