Khyan Mansley, Tim Hautekiet, and Sammy Paul have released pilots as part of New Form Digital’s Incubator 3.
New Form Digital, a production company led by Chief Creative Officer Kathleen Grace, annually commissions the Incubator series – a selection of short films from international upcoming filmmakers.
Some, like PJ Ligouri‘s Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures and Emily Diana Ruth‘s Cold, have since been commissioned into web series. Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures was released in September last year, while Cold is currently in production due for a release later this year.
As in previous years, Mitchell Davis made cameo appearances in all eight Incubator 3 videos, which were showcased from 5 April.
Tim Hautekiet – Hacks
Starring: Francesca Santoro, Eric Lee Huffman, Christine Sloane, Dom Fera, Tim Hautekiet
Recluse Lucy Harding runs a small tech consultancy business from inside her apartment. One day, roommate Brian brings her a hard drive he claims contains sensitive information stolen from a villainous communications company. As he tells Lucy to drop it off to the press and goes into hiding, she now has to decide what to do.
“The story deals with themes of national security and our right to privacy,” explains Tim. “It’s an action comedy that came from us asking the question, ‘What if Edward Snowden had gone into hiding but the information didn’t get delivered?’
“This is the most explicit ‘pilot’ I’ve ever written,” Tim continues. “It’s designed to leave a lot of questions to be later answered in the potential series, and I hope we get a chance to tell that story, because the film as presented in the short film isn’t ‘finished’, it’s just the beginning.
“Just recently, a news story broke regarding the Panama Papers leak! It’s one of those strange moments when you happen to have made a film about hacking and sensitive data when an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files happened over the weekend. Though we’re obviously making a fun short for entertainment, it’s obviously important to remember stuff like this is really happening.
“It’s a little easier to let your imagination go when you have a company like NFD involved, because you can dream a little bigger and you have the support of a team who wanna help you find a way to make it happen.
“Honestly, I love working with New Form Digital,” he enthuses. “I think they’re keen to push narrative filmmaking online to the next level and I enjoy the process of developing stories with them. I was flattered when they offered me a second opportunity to create a short film because I thought to myself, ‘Well, they probably didn’t hate working with me the first time if they’re willing to do it all again!'”
Sammy Paul – Friend Like Me
Toby has had a genie best friend for the past 15 years. But after splitting with his girlfriend, he’s spurred on to make the decision over whether or not to make his third wish, which may get rid of his mate for good.
“This project was genuinely great fun from begin to end,” says Sammy. “I wrote the characters with actors in mind (something I don’t often do) and was lucky enough to have each of them say yes. I also got to use the exact crew I love working with so everything ended up going really smoothly.
“Often, making something for a production company can feel really restricting. I’ve had some awful meetings in the past where people were making suggestions for huge changes before I’d even finished pitching. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like the people at a company already know what they want. In total contrast, New Form Digital have been really cool to work with.
“This film has a rather odd sense of humour with a fair few jokes I’d find hard to pitch in a more traditional sense. Usually I’d be hesitant to write that kind of stuff in, but they genuinely sort of let me go ‘full weird’ on this one. If ever they did have a suggestion, it was only ever advice.
“It was always ‘could’ rather than ‘should’, and in all honestly, some of my favourite scenes in the film came from their suggestions. Side note: I’m not just saying this so that they give me a series (though yeah, if you’re reading, I’d totally love one).”
Sammy has previously collaborated on writing and directing with Tim. “I loved Friend Like Me!” Tim says. “After having had the pleasure of co-directing with him on [The Fleeting Little Life of] Peter Wright, What Have We Done, and Bad Burglars, it was really nice to see him direct solo and just experience the story without having been overly involved. It’s very much in his voice, and I think people are gonna love it.”
“I suppose the only real difference in writing and directing alone is suddenly the final product feels like a much bigger part of you,” says Sammy, “as if you’re now a single mother to this newborn baby, whereas your previous children had come from a happy marriage. Only you’re also the father, I guess, so you’ve somehow managed to impregnate yourself, and now that you’ve given birth, this child is like… 100 per cent who you are. This analogy got out of hand quick! I guess what I’m trying to say is that it feels like a bigger sense of both responsibility and pride.
“With that in mind, though, I do want to give an unnecessarily sentimental thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of this project. From New Form Digital for having faith in my pitch, to friends who were made to read drafts, to people I don’t know for commenting and engaging with it on some level. Yeah. Thanks.”
Khyan Mansley – The Ministry
Starring: Khyan Mansley, Lucy Pearman, Lottie Johansson, Letty Butler
Henry Wallace is a down-on-his-luck writer, dog-sitting to pay the bills. It doesn’t help that his muse has read his less than flattering depiction of her and has some choice words to say to him about it. However, a mysterious order known only as the Ministry believe he may hold the key to a divine being…
“I would love for The Ministry to go to series, and have plenty of ideas to explore if it does,” admits Khyan.
“What we did wouldn’t have been manageable if we didn’t have such a good crew. We filmed for three days, spread out across some wonderful locations. We went overtime on two of the days, but had very gracious hosts, so it never became too stressful.
“There were a lot more people involved in this film, and I think in this instance it only improved the film as a whole. The script went through about 20 drafts, and the Ministry stuff only came out in the last five or so — originally, it was a lot more focussed on the ex-lover storyline — so I’m very pleased that NFD kept pushing me to explore what was possible with this story.
“I haven’t seen the other films yet, but I have some very talented peers working on films so am anticipating great things.”
Click here to watch the full playlist of the Incubator 3 films.
Check out our chat with last year’s Incubator participants. Alternatively, see our extensive coverage of Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures, including our exclusive interview with Team KickThePJ on set.