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Mentors unveiled for finalists of this year's Yarns competition

Mentors unveiled for finalists of this year's Yarns competition

Promonews - 22nd Sept 2023

The four mentors who will guide the finalists for this year's Yarns - Stitch and Homespun's prestigious annual short film competition - have been announced.

The mentors are Meji Alabi, director at RSA/Black Dog Films; Marta Bobic, executive producer and MD at CANADA London; Ninian Doff, director at Pulse Films; and Keith McCarthy, director at Stink Films. As with previous years, each of the mentors will partner with the four finalists of this year's competition - Tom Gentle and Sam Brain, Holly Hunter, Juliet Klottrup, Doug Redfern and Joe Roberts - to help them navigate the process from script development to post-production, and create the best possible short film.

The scripts of the four short films have all been written inspired by the brief for this year's competition, titled The Ends. After they have been shot, each film will be cut by one of four editors on the Homespun roster: Luke Anderson, Chris Hutchings, Laura Reyes and Laura Zvarikova.

A former Senior Creative and Director at Channel 4’s award-winning 4Creative, Keith McCarthy is a masterful visual storyteller, with a distinctive style that combines stunning cinematography and a wry sense of humour. His work for C4’s The Grand National struck a chord globally, and recent collaborations have brought wins and nominations at BAFTA, D&AD, British Arrows, Cannes Lions and Creative Circle.

McCarthy returns to the Yarns process having been a mentor on last year’s winning Yarns film, Emma Parkinson’s Dishes, Dishes, Dishes.  This year, he will be working alongside director Holly Hunter on her film Banana Boat, cut by Homespun editor Laura Zvarikova.

“Mentoring a Yarns finalist is always a brilliant experience, and I feel very lucky that I’ve been asked back for another year," says McCarthy. "Getting the chance to be involved with one of the best independent short film competitions in the UK is a special thing, but it’s also great to learn a few things from the amazing talent that has made it through to the final. I can’t wait to get started and hopefully continue the winning streak!”

Marta Bobic is also returning for a second stint as mentor at Yarns. Having joined CANADA in 2015, she has helped to bring an expanding roster of directors to British shores as EP and MD of CANADA London. She will be working alongside Juliet Klottrup on her film ‘Travelling Home’. The short will be edited by Luke Anderson, who cut last year’s winning film.

“I’m so excited to be returning as a Yarns mentor for a second time," she says. "It’s a real honour to help support talented filmmakers and I can’t wait to see Juliet’s vision come to life. I've always admired Yarns and its mission to support new talent, not to mention watching the great films that are produced each year. It's such an important project for bringing new voices and ideas to our industry, so I can’t wait to see what gets produced this year."

Meji Alabi is a director and photographer who bridges the gap between African and Western markets. Creating everything from music videos to advertising campaigns, he is also a co-founder of Lagos-based creative production company JM Films. Signed in the UK to Ridley Scott's RSA Films, Meji’s recent work includes music videos for Stormzy,  Wizkid ft Burna Boy, and Leigh-Anne ft Ayra Starr as well as campaigns for Disney, Fanta, Guinness and KFC.

He will be working alongside Tom Gentle and Sam Brain on their film Do You Have Kids, to be cut by Homespun editor Chris Hutchings. He is also another returnee as a Yarns mentor.

"It's my pleasure to be working with Yarns again, especially when the filmmakers are as talented as Tom and Sam," he says. "Yarns is a unique opportunity for young directors to get their start, and their short has both an amazing idea and script. To be collaborating with a writer and director has been an awesome experience, and hopefully we’ll see more of these competitions that help filmmakers of all types get their ideas out there!”

Ninian Doff is an award-winning director whose body of work spans music videos, commercials, and feature film.  Previously winning Best Director at the UKMVAs, and several awards for his Run the Jewels promo Love Again, he has since created a string of blockbuster commercials for brands such as Apple, McDonald’s, Three, Ikea and Sainsbury’s.

Doff is celebrated for his cinematic approach, intertwining comedy with the surreal, his debut feature Get Duked earned the SXSW Audience Prize. He is also returning as a Yarns mentor, and he will be lending his vast experience to Doug Redfern and Joe Roberts on their film Mr. Biscuit. The film will be cut by Homespun editor Laura Reyes.

Each of the mentors is an industry powerhouse.

“I'm super happy to be mentoring at Yarns again," he says. "It's such a great opportunity for new directors. Doug and Joe wrote a great script and can't wait to see how it turns out and hopefully I'm of some help along the way!"

Homespun co-owner Tim Hardy has added that he is delighted to welcome back the four mentors for another year of Yarns. "Each of them is an industry powerhouse, with wins at BAFTA, Cannes Lions and British Arrows to name but a few," says Hardy. "Our young filmmakers are already working hard shooting their films, and getting to work alongside such a talented group of mentors is an experience I know they won’t forget!”

Together with the support from their mentors, Yarns also sees the aspiring directors’ partner with some of the industry’s foremost talent to create their film. The finalists will benefit from experts across production and post, including sponsors Kodak and Slingshot Intergalactic, as well as post-production partners Freefolk, nineteentwenty, Absolute and Sine.

“We’re delighted that our finalists will again have some of the best in the business working on their films," says Homespun co-owner Leo King. "From post to sound, our finalists have always worked with the best up-and-coming talent from across the industry.

"It’s long been a cornerstone of the Yarns mission, and we’re very proud to say that this will be the case again this year. We can’t wait to see Yarns give a platform to another cohort of talented people.”

• More information about the Yarns finalists here; and about Homespun's editors here

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