’27 Seconds’

A look at an exciting new project coming to the Cambridge Shorts


An interview with Emma Hall, one of ‘27 Seconds’’s directors

‘27 Seconds’ is a project made up of 14 different pieces of film and new music, involving 16 filmmakers and composers and a production team of 3. Each new piece was made only in response to the previous piece of work, with each person having no idea where their own work would fit into the film as a whole. The result is a unique, unpredictable 7-minute film made over the course of 13 weeks in Cambridge.

How was the first piece developed? Was there an initial brief?

We didn’t start off with a theme in mind as we didn’t want the whole thing to end up looking and sounding the same; essentially we wanted to avoid the project becoming a ‘chain’ that fitted into a specific genre but instead be something a little more predictable. The first piece was an original, 27 second piece of music which we commissioned Oliver Vibrans to create.

How did it feel, seeing the project slowly develop?

It was so exciting seeing the project unfold. However, I didn’t have any idea what it would really look like until we put it all together at the end; as the submissions were coming in I wasn’t seeing them with the music attached and vice versa.

Did any of the filmmakers veer off in a totally unexpected direction?

We hadn’t really given people a ‘direction’, so in a way every piece that we got was unexpected and we were delighted by that.

Were there any hiccoughs along the way?

No project is without its complications! The biggest bump in the road was probably the week that I was in Macedonia with extremely poor WiFi – I had a bit of a panic about not being able to pass on the pieces to the next people in the chain.

Did any of the filmmakers find it hard to create something so short? Was the time restriction of each piece a problem at all?

I think that because it was such a precise number to work with (you can blame Louis Norris for that stylistic choice), people sometimes found it challenging making their pieces exactly 27 seconds. Despite this, because each person was responding to another it was easier to adhere to this restriction.

This has been a long time in the making – did it ever feel like it wouldn’t work out as you’d hoped?

We only hoped that the end product would be interesting, and I was certain that we were working with interesting talented people so I didn’t worry about that. However, sometimes logistical challenges made me worry that we wouldn’t have enough material ready to submit to Cambridge Shorts.

Was it hard to ensure the nature of the project didn’t make it become gimmicky?

Without wanting to sound cocky, I think that the idea was original enough that, at worst, the project would just be a bit strange. To be honest, I never really worried about it being gimmicky.

Did any individual pieces particularly stand out to you personally?

I love all of the pieces…but one that really stands out is Aaron Kilercioglu’s piece of his dad laughing and having a chat about his winter coat, which was shot on a Super 8. The music Oliver Vibrans and Siobhan Connellan wrote for this piece gave it a really different feel on each watch, and I loved seeing how the music completely changed the tone of the piece.

What will happen with this project now? Are there plans for any similar projects in the future?

We’d love for this to go further and for other people to start doing their own chain projects. We’re having some conversations with other film societies at different universities so hopefully the idea will catch on!

‘27 Seconds’ will be shown as part of the Cambridge Shorts at the ADC Theatre on Friday 16th March (tonight) at 11pm