Seashell: Caught Short Focus 2006

I took part in a Screen Yorkshire scheme back in 2006. The aim of the scheme was to write, direct, cast, edit, post produce and screen a short film within one week on a very low budget.  Starting from scratch.

My wife Alison Pennells entered as writer and I entered as director. We were given some students to act as crew. It was a great, fun-filled mad week, and we were given training by a veteran BBC director on how to handle actors, and how to run a set. I loved it.

We encountered various problems along the way. I cast the wrong male lead from the two choices I was given. And while setting the shots up, I trusted my student camera person to be able to focus the camera (he didn’t focus correctly on the majority of the shots – which meant the whole film looks kind of soft).

What did I learn from the scheme?

  • I learned that despite being a script writer for hire and a closeted writer type I’m actually really good at dealing with people
  • I learned that I can deal with pressure well (the whole film was shot in one day over various locations)
  • I learned that directing is very hard, and you need a really good crew and you need to keep them onside
  • I learned that I’m not Orson Welles. A lesson a lot of young filmmakers should learn really quickly.
  • Filmmaking is all about collaboration and making good relationships with the people you work with

The film is below and features some Super 8mm footage I shot and some of my own Super 8mm equipment.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour