Creative in association withGear Seven

Homespun Celebrates Success at Second Short Film Competition

London, UK
Caroline Hicks' short romantic comedy 'Vanya' takes home winning prize

Following the successful launch in 2014, editing collective, Homespun, concluded their second short film competition, Homespun Yarns on Thursday 8th October 2015.

Back in April Homespun called for those stories — the scripts left unwritten, the ideas in the back of people’s minds, bags and written on a fag packet, inviting anyone, regardless of background or experience, to share their great idea and turn it into an even greater short film.

The Homespun team were overwhelmed this years’ bucket load of entries, shortlisting four applicants (in place of the three originally planned) to receive the £1500 grant to make their ideas into a reality.

“The quality of the pitches and ideas this year was incredible. Despite, in some cases, a very limited experience in film making, there was a real ‘can do’ spirit which we loved. The whole point of Homespun is to help nurture ideas and talent, so it was great to have such a range of finalists, from directors and producers to A-level students.”  Comments Alice Clarke, Homespun Producer.

Cropped - Chris Thomas

Smuggler’s Chris Thomas kicked off this year’s Homespun Yarns competition directing comedic short Cropped. A disbelieving tour guide leads her group of extra-terrestrial fanatics into the quiet English countryside, however she’s soon reaching for a ‘tin foil hat’ when she realises the source of the crop circles aren’t quite the agricultural Banksy she was imagining.

“Because Cropped is pretty much a fusion of two genres – sci-fi and comedy - my inspirations are quite disparate!” Explains Chris. “M. Night Shyamalan’s early films have influenced a lot of my work, and any other keen fans out there will have noticed my homage to ‘Signs’ in Cropped. Otherwise it would have to be Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, and the work of Edgar Wright that inspired the comedy element. I never really work on comedy usually, so this was a bit of a departure from my comfort zone. I guess the execution came from a combination of factors; my genuinely hilarious and talented cast, a stellar job of the edit from Phil Currie, and the fact that I’m just a pretty funny guy…”

Chris and his team used some careful budgeting to pull off the effects he wanted to achieve in the film: “Thankfully, I work with some great people in the industry who liked the idea, and were happy to come on board and help us out. We really would not have been able to make this film without that generosity and we couldn't be more grateful. I’m really stoked to have been included in Homespun this year. They’re truly sourcing and supporting some amazing ideas and young talent."

Charlie Cloudhead  - Rupert Cresswell

Director at MPC Creative, Rupert Cresswell, tells the story of one man and the cloud over his head. The film explores the emotions of the eponymous protagonist through his personal and ever-present dark cloud (animated by the team at MPC).

Describing the inspiration behind his idea Cresswell comments: “The image of someone with a cloud over their head is just one of those universal images - I wasn't sure of the original source. I thought it might first have come from the cartoon Peanuts, which is why I called the guy Charlie, but in reality it didn't! I later discovered an old episode of the children's TV show 'the Flumps' where one of the characters had a cloud over his head, perhaps that's where I first saw it as a very young kid and it stuck with me? Who knows!?

“The film uses the cloud as an absurd depiction of a very common story - a man attempting to hide his feelings and soldier on while it is obvious to everyone he is deeply unhappy. I wanted to explore the brutality and compulsion of pursuing personal happiness at the cost of everything else - something many of us have faced and can relate to. The 'if not now, then when?”

Cresswell and his team built a full sized model cloud from papier mache and cotton wool and hung it from a wire on set to use as a guide for framing and lighting the moving CG cloud added by the team at MPC (Lead by Andy Roberts and Thanos Topoukis)

The guys really pulled it out of the bag, creating around 90 shots in under two weeks. Some of the other effects were filmed on set in camera for a realistic finish.” Adds Cresswell. “The whole experience was an incredible one - it really snowballed from a little idea I was quietly mulling over to to eventually involving a huge team of enthusiastic and talented people at MPC, and two incredible actors (Paul Higgins & Daisy Haggard).”

My Beloved Monster - Florence Winter Hill

This intriguing short was directed by the youngest of this year’s contestants, Sixth Former Florence Winter Hill from The King John School in Southend, Essex with Tim Hardy offering a guiding hand on the edit. Florence filmed the dark creature fantasy in her hometown and brought to life a story of fear, heartbreak, enchantment and wonder.

Commenting on the experience Florence says: “I thought it would be a great challenge to put a pitch in for Homespun yarns but never imagined being selected as one of the films to be made! I was over the moon to have this amazing opportunity. I am so grateful to Angela, Tim, and everybody at Stitch for taking this risk with us because I have learnt an invaluable amount, and have loved every minute of it.”

Explaining the ideas behind the film, Florence adds: “The script was written by Felix Hockey, as an A-level assignment, influenced by Guillermo Del Toro, who I’m a huge fan of. I also drew on the likes of Spike Jonze’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ and Hayao Miyazaki’s films such as ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘Spirited Away’. The connection between creatures and children is a fascinating for me. These films were a source of inspiration for the feelings of magic, enchantment, and a sense of otherworldliness which was something I really wanted to achieve in My Beloved Monster.”

The production design played a big part in Florence’s short. An authentic interior and props were carefully sought out by Florence and her production Designer Raz Gharbi to create the vintage style embodied by the film.

“We knew using a modern home would not suffice - we used my grandparents’ house in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, which was built in the early 1800s. We were also lucky enough to have Myles Bevan and Lewis Crossfield from Electric Theatre Collective do the grade for the film, they had an idea to add a slight grainy-ness to it to give the impression of being shot on film.”


The Winning Entry - Vanya - Caroline Hicks

Freelance Producer Caroline Hicks won the hearts and votes of the attendees of Homespun Yarns at The Drury Club. Her short romantic comedy about Eastern European minicab driver, Vanya, tells us of the trials and tribulations of those looking for love.

“I was meant to shoot Vanya a few years ago but kept putting it off.” Explains Caroline. “Back then my sister and I were in Charlotte Street, it was 2 am, February and freezing. There were no cabs around and this Eastern European woman pulled up in her car asking if we wanted a cab. She obviously wasn't a minicab driver, so we were reluctant to get in but we were so tired and cold we went for it. She was the inspiration for the film. She kept asking us if we were looking for love, or had 'special job' and told us how she worked like a donkey since her husband had ran off with everything. When I got home I wrote everything down. I then caught sight of the tennis courts near me and the bench overlooking them and thought it could be a sweet story if in fact she was looking for love, so wrote the story from there.


“I was overwhelmed, and so, so chuffed when I found out I’d won. All the films were so different, unique and well executed that I didn't know if we had a chance. It was amazing when I heard my name read out. I’m still so chuffed now! I also want to say huge thanks to Homespun as if it wasn't for them the script would still be in my 'back pocket' and we'd still be trying to get it off the ground! Not only that, Rich [Homespun Editor, Richard Woolway] did a great job pulling the edit together to nail the comedic timing of the funnier scenes like the tennis ball and the Sharon Stone scene.


Caroline has previously directed short films including ‘Ladies Night’ and is currently developing a feature, ‘Clint Boyle’ with the Film Development Partnership and black comedy short, ‘Dead End.’

Vanya has been entered into several festivals following Homespun


The Homespun Yarns Team


“We were so pleased with how all the four films turned out and Vanya was a very worthy winner. After such a great response this year, we’ll almost certainly be back again next year, so watch this space!” Comments Angela Hart, Homespun & Stitch MD.


If you want to catch this year’s finalists and last year’s films too then head over to our shiny new You Tube channel: Homespun Yarns.

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