Lincoln Drill Hall saw a diverse audience gather for the fourth year of Lincoln Shorts last Saturday (18 October).

The local short film festival, founded and organised by Tim Johns, provides a fantastic opportunity for both amateur and professional short film makers to have their submissions screened. The eclectic and engaging collection featured films ranging from original music videos to horror shorts.

It seemed audience favourites included ‘Cat Fight Club’ the humorously dubbed exploits of neighbourhood cats in a communal garden (produced by Johns himself) and ‘Zombie Aid’ a short by Philip Stevens that reminded us that ‘they were people too’.

The extensive variety of genre, cinematography and content of the submissions firmly held the audience’s attention for the duration of the festival. In a casual interview before the event Johns brought the democratic nature of short films to the foreground, explaining that feature length film requires ‘huge investment’ of both time and money.

The medium of short film, however, allows almost anyone with a camera and a creative vision to produce a viable and competitive piece of film.

Image by Steve Smailes Photography.

This being said, one particular submission was undeniably in a different league to the other shorts. The final screening of the night, introduced by Johns as the rule breaker of the evening (submissions must be under five minutes, this entry was over ten), ‘Mouse-X’ by Justin Tagg stole the show.

With its claustrophobic temporal looping, ‘Mouse-X’ breaks not only the festival rules, but those of reality itself. The film captures the viewer in a surreal and disorientating sequence of events and is completed by ending that poses more questions than it answers. As is the case with all the submissions, the short was produced locally on a relatively low budget.

Its quality and reception is a credit to the Lincolnshire short film scene. The piece has been screened internationally and has received significant critical acclaim. In an interview, Johns revealed ‘Mouse-X’ to be his favourite submission this year, and described the cinematic endeavour as ‘absolutely amazing’.

Although a side-line to the film screenings, the excellent acoustic set performed by local indie band The Warbirds, proved to be one of the highlights of the evening. Beautiful and seemingly effortless harmonies accompanied by plaintive guitar melodies left me wanting to hear more than the four songs they performed.

Leaving the audience wanting more is perhaps the key formula to the whole event. The brevity of each film encourages total engagement and bypasses any lapses in attention a full length feature film inevitably harbours. The medium offers a uniquely condensed experience, where there is no room for superfluous or insipid material.

When asked for his advice to those aiming to produce successful short films, Johns provided the appropriately succinct response of ‘make it shorter’.

The evening as a whole was a successful and affectionate celebration of local talent, drawing to a close after Tim John’s bittersweet announcement that, while the festival would be sure to continue, the evening marked what was likely to be his last involvement with the project.