How to win Bristol Science Film Festival… or at least make the shortlist!

Thinking of submitting a film for this year’s short film competition? Here’s a selection of our favourites from previous festivals, plus some tips to get you started!

Find a story that needs to be told

First things first, work out what you want your film to be about. Look for something that you believe is interesting and important. It might be something you’ve studied, something that you’ve seen in the news or a bit of science that you just can’t stop thinking about!

Watch 2018’s (Inter)national winner here and you’ll know what we’re on about! The Upgraded Brain explored the topic of improving our intelligence and memory with brain implants. It shows some amazing, jaw-dropping science that we thought needed screen time!

Get creative

A little bit of creativity will really make you stand out from other short films. One of our favourites is the wonderful singing crocheted magic cone snail by Wisterlitz Productions. The catchy science sea shanty won them runner up in the local competition in 2016.

Be original

Think about how you can remix the standard science documentary format. What about animation, demonstrations, songs or even a fake reality TV show? We’re not joking about that last one — The Great Geo Bake Off made the shortlist last year!

In 2018 we also had our first mockumentary submission. We thought it was genius and awarded it runner up in the (Inter)national category.

Add some humour

Science can be terribly serious sometimes, but so many of our winners have managed to find moments among all those facts to get a bit silly. It’s a great way of keeping your audience’s attention, and you may as well have fun while working hard at your film!

In 2016, Mary-Laine Friday tickled our funny bones with her A to Zee of Animal Mysteries. She won the BBC Focus Prize.

Get emotional

Showing the human side of science makes a huge difference to getting the judges to care about the topic of your film. It will also help the film stick in their brain long after it’s ended.

We thought Bartholomew Harvey hit the right balance of facts and feelings in 2017, and he won the runner up position in the local competition.

Don’t have all the kit?

Don’t worry, the judges make allowances for this. The festival is all about giving budding film makers a boost! You might have to think more carefully to work around a lack of expensive equipment however, especially when it comes to sound.

If you’re filming outside, the sound of a presenter can get lost in wind or traffic. Make sure we can hear your audio clearly, perhaps by using voice overs.

Keep it short and sweet

The 10 minute limit is not a target!

Final tip: before you get started, make sure to give the competition rules a read. Oh, and have fun!!

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