I am amazed and still slightly agog to say my debut short film “Cancer Hair” won the IMDb New Filmmaker Award at Bath Film Festival. It was such as journey to get the film into being, and then into festivals, that when it won this award it was all rather lovely and wholly career affirming.

Cancer Hair is an ambitious short film about Claire, a young woman in remission from cancer who goes on her first post “all clear” date with a likely lad Andrew.  After a disastrous start to the date, the two find unexpected common ground in her illness and recovery. This new found affinity prompts her to remove her wig, revealing her true vulnerabilities, if only to him.

It’s a non-romantic comedy about the moments, and people, that inadvertently change our lives and give us the strength to do things we wouldn’t do ordinarily. It plays with humour and pathos and gives us a glimpse into a young woman’s emergence back into life.

I wrote Cancer Hair in 2012, made it in 2013 and started entering it into festivals in 2014.  Short films take longer than you think, made all the harder by the fact they are inevitably self funded, you are judging day job with creative life and there is no guaranteed when your baby is ready for a film festival that it’ll actually be accepted.

Filmmaking, much like life is about taking a stand for what you believe in. I, and in turn – with producers Helga Ernudottir and Isabelle Sieb – we, believed in the film. We made it with belief, entered it into festivals with belief and here we are now IMDb New Filmmakers of the year. All thanks to Bath Film Festival.

The Bath Film Festival win, aside from a stonking evening out, an awesome trophy and a lovely prize pot is an amazing thing to put on our filmmaker CVs now. It is asked about. It is recognised.  And it is a great pat on the back for what we did.

I’ve been very careful with the £1,000 prize money from the IMDb New Fimmaker Award, it is going towards my next film as writer/director which will likely be shot early summer 2015. As for Cancer Hair itself, we are in the middle of preparing to release it online – watch this space.

Invariably you make short films for exposure to the industry. Entering Film Festivals like Bath does that for you, and when it reaches the end of its Film Festival life it’s then up to you to elongate the life of your film yourself.

If you have made your debut short film, do enter it into Bath Film Festival. They actively seek new filmmakers and new films for the IMDb New Filmmaker award. Don’t quibble about whether it is good enough or what if it gets rejected, just enter it and see what happens.

No-one has your career in the palm of their hand but you and you never know what happens if you only try.

All the best

Gail Hackston