Short Stuff: The Voorman Problem (1)

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Writer/director Mark Gill reveals how throwing caution to the wind helped secure a star cast of Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander for his BAFTA-nominated short The Voorman Problem. He is nominated alongside writer/producer Baldwin Li.

In 2007 I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a first class honours degree in Moving Image, winning a Royal Television Society Student Award in the process.

After graduating I worked on broadcast productions in a variety of roles before starting to develop the script for The Voorman Problem. Having met Baldwin (producer) on the set of a short film in summer 2008, I showed him the work I had done so far and he offered to help developing the script and securing the funding needed to get it made.

We received great feedback on the script from those we circulated it to and this gave us the confidence to give some serious consideration as to who we approached for the lead roles.

Once funding was secured we decided to aim for the stars and initially approached Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic Theatre. Naivety is sometimes a wonderful trait. No-one was telling us we couldn’t do it so we just threw caution to the wind and sent him the script. A valuable lesson.

Kevin was suitably impressed by the script, but being too busy himself suggested we approach Tom Hollander. With his recommendation under our arms we got the script to Tom and he immediately said yes. We must also acknowledge Tom’s role in helping us get Martin Freeman on board.

"Naivety is sometimes a wonderful trait. No-one was telling us we couldn’t do it so we just threw caution to the wind and sent him the script."

 

We completed principal photography in June 2009 and then spent considerable time ensuring the film was edited and graded to the highest possible standards. By the time it was finally complete, in late 2010, Martin had landed roles in Sherlock and The Hobbit. It made perfect sense to us then to delay festival submission until 2011 and ride that Middle Earth wave.

So far the film has notched up over 24 Official Selections, including BFI London Film Festival, Aspen Shortfest, Clermont-Ferrand and CFC Toronto. The film has also won Best Live Action Short at the St Louis International Short Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Corona Fastent.

There was a lot of varying emotion when we received the BAFTA nomination. We were thrilled, surprised and vindicated all at once. It’s the highest accolade in the UK and for our first film we believe we’ve laid down a great marker.

Watch BAFTA-winning shorts on Guru

The Voorman Problem - Official Site