Cheap Thrills Zero Budget Film Festival

10 October
Burngreave Cemetery

Cheap Thrills Film Festival is in its fifth year and is growing exponentially thanks to Martin Currie, a Burngreave resident of 20 years. It started when, in 2011, Martin won the short film competition 2Weeks 2Make It. With the enjoyment of their creative efforts, and the prize money, his team set about making more videos. But the majority of proposals they received were short films, locally shot and set in the present day. They didn’t need the great financial backing they had expected, which is why Cheap Thrills’ driving philosophy is so neatly eponymous: “We take the zero budget philosophy seriously, not paying for, or charging for anything. We even give away the popcorn.”

Martin said, “I called it a festival as a joke, Sheffield being the home of so many very serious, and important, film fests. We are local, hand crafted, not at all serious, and very, very unimportant”.  This year they screened the shorts in the unassuming chapel of Burngreave Cemetery. The reception from spectators was overwhelmingly positive and the subsequent events have only been more rewarding. Each year a small team of hard workers bring the show together. "Janet Currie and Clare Burnell do a lot of preparatory work and try to interest Sheffield’s sometimes lazy press with a genuinely positive Burngreave story. Steve Pool is a constant support and essential technical rig, and Peter Applerock has been with us from the start."

While the festival usually receives around five entries from overseas, this year saw Martin deluged with over 320 internationally-made films spanning 42 countries. While it’s positive to have the message of Cheap Thrills spread so far, films from local residents always take the show, and he “intends to run an event later in the year, showcasing some more of these wonderful films,” although with such a mass of creative talent, he tells me he'd like to "have a little nap first”.

To readers who live elsewhere, attending Burngreave Cemetery after dark may pose a daunting prospect, because the area receives a less than fair amount of bad press. On the subject, Martin comfortably dismisses Burngreave’s reputation as a rough area. “It’s a community in which people talk to each other. Some people are odd, but so am I. It’s strangely wonderful and so diverse.”

I arrived at the cemetery early, while local volunteers were busy setting up decorations and refreshments. I was greeted by a large paper fox, lit from the inside to wonderfully contrast the darkness of the approaching dusk. Various other animals were also brought to life by Burngreave artist Patrick Amber and hung around the chapel to complement the high ceilings of 1860s architecture, softening the contrast of bright screen to blackened surroundings. It was a marvellous scene.

I just managed to find space on a pew, next to a couple who had travelled from London for the event. There was a mix of short films - some animated, some live action, all showing ingenuity in overcoming the lack of a budget. A favourite of mine was a simple live film, shot in the maker’s garden, where the ordinarily unexciting movements of snails were given life with the sounds of hooting steam trains and the clatter of wheels on tracks as they sped past one another. Comedy ensued as a particularly large snail chuffed through the frame with a low honk, straight over another. This was one of the highlighted films for me because the audience was so thoroughly entertained by a film of such simple origin. With no money spent on creating it, it could still produce equal amounts of laughter from the crowd as a big budget film.

The whole evening really displayed the Burngreave community at its best, bringing the occasion to fruition simply for the fun of it. With artists, filmmakers and volunteers all playing equally important roles, it’s just one example of the area’s growth in the right direction. It’s heartening to see such a diverse population as Burngreave coming together as a creative collective for a night of cheap thrills.

Edgar Lowman

zerobudgetfilmfest.com

Film Listings

Collated by Samantha Holland

SONG OF THE SEA
Tomm Moore, 2014
15 November | 7:30pm | 215 Sharrow Vale Road | £3 w/ cake and coffee
Sharrow Reels presents this remarkable folkloric tale about a selkie and her brother, which moves at a more leisurely pace than most contemporary animations. Beautifully crafted, critics pretty much unanimously praise this film’s stunning, hand-drawn visuals and its telling of a children’s tale with enormous narrative and emotional depth. Link

AN EVENING WITH ARCHIVE SHEFFIELD
12 November | 7pm | Regather Works | £5

Regather Film Club presents local documentary photography and filmmaking collective Archive Sheffield to curate a night of insightful and fascinating films about the city around us. Expect a combination of contemporary work from the Archive Sheffield team, plus historical films specially selected from the depths of the city archives. Link

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FURRED KIND
19 November | 7pm | Cafe #9 | £10 (adv only)
Café #9 hosts author Tom Cox in Sheffield, where he’ll read not just from his new book about his cats, but speak about other things too, like badgers and trees. He’ll also spin some 70s vinyl, and we’ll screen a few films about cats, celebrating his cat The Bear’s online fame. Link

THE WANTED / LOVE, THEFT AND OTHER ENTANGLEMENTS
Paul Cowan & Amer Shomali, 2014 / Muayad Alayan, 2015
28 November | 4pm & 6:15pm | Showroom | £7.30/£8.30
Cinema Palestino presents The Wanted, an engaging documentary, incorporating animation and other techniques to share the story of a village seeking independence by buying 18 cows, and ...Entanglements, which shows a thief’s surprise at what he finds in the boot of a stolen car on returning to his refugee camp. Link