Hoping to put smiles on faces during these challenging times, Tees Valley Screen released six short films featuring new comedic talent in partnership with BFI NETWORK (Film Hub North).

During this period of lockdown, Tees Valley Screen were keen to take the opportunity to share some of the amazing work they were able to support last year with a wider audience.

These microshorts showcase the talented filmmaking community in Teesside, and the brilliant, surreal, and unexpected comedy which defines the Tees Valley region. 

The Microshorts commission was launched through Film Hub North to support new comedy filmmaking talent in the Tees Valley. The open call offered emerging talent the opportunity to make six comedy films, supporting them to develop their ideas for short form comedy and build links with producers and talent from across the North East.

The first in a series of gritty, poignant, and inspiring interviews, ‘HUMANS OF MIDDLESBROUGH’ introduces us to Britain’s Hardest Poet, and a man who gave one of his legs to Middlesbrough Borough Council, for reasons he can’t make 100% clear. This microshort was created by James Harris, who went on to gain a Channel 4 commission off the back of his microshort debut. 

‘PUBLIC APPEAL’, stars YouTube sensation Demi Donnelly, who was recently nominated for Best Newcomer at the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards 2020, and is about a content creator who needs to keep generating those likes, subs and views – what better way to boost your profile than by using the disappearance of a family member as your platform? 

Set in a salon, ‘50 SHADES’ shows what happens when Jane only comes in for a trim, but Cheryl has bigger plans. 

‘MANSPLAIN’ is a musical about the perils of mansplaining, produced by the same team who went on to create a viral hit for Channel 4: ‘If Boobs Were Like Balls’. ‘DEAN’ showcases the incomparable talent of Dean Moore, who claims to see the world a little differently from most. 

‘DCSS’, starring Hal Branson, who also gained a Channel 4 commission after the microshorts, asks the question ‘Are you Working Class and proud of it, or do you secretly want to be Upper Class?’, with the DCSS helping the people of Tees Valley find their social standing.

Both ‘DEAN’ and ‘DCSS’ were produced by Jeff Lee, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Tees Valley Screen say they “feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Jeff – his kindness, patience and warmth were felt by all”.

Alison Gwynn, acting Managing Director of Northern Film + Media, said: “We’re so happy that the microshorts are going to be launched for the world to see. They really are a testament to the brilliantly unique comedic talent which exists in the Tees Valley region. We’re also very proud that our Tees Valley Screen was able to nurture this talent so well, and partner with an organisation like BFI NETWORK, all within the first year of the project”.

Roxy McKenna, BFI NETWORK Talent Executive, Film Hub North, adds: “We were really excited to partner with Tees Valley Screen and Northern Film + Media on the development of these microshorts. The films produced really showcase the wealth of talent that exists in the Tees Valley and we are looking forward to seeing them reach new audiences online”.

The films were produced in association with Northern Film + Media, the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and the European Regional Development Fund. They were shot with predominantly Tees Valley cast and crew, with budgets of £1000 per film. This was an amazing opportunity for the emerging filmmakers involved and allowed them to benefit from development support from the BFI NETWORK, North East comedy writer Hal Branson, script writer Paul Fraser, and comedy Executive Producer for Apple+, Emma Lawson. The comedies premiered at a Tees Valley Screen event in Hartlepool in October 2019, before further screenings were held across the country in partnership with BFI NETWORK.

The microshorts are now available through Tees Valley Screen’s Vimeo account; you can enjoy the showcase here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/6574324