You could turn your Christmas break into a networking trip to Cannes with a 140-second film on the theme ‘Everyday Moments’. Here are our top ten #NikonFF Christmas movie-making tips from Raindance founder Elliot Grove to help you do it!


You can shoot on any device, so use the kit you got as a Christmas present. It could be a new camera or smart device  – work with whatever you’ve got.


Christmas is a universal moment we all share, so your story will be instantly recognisable in that setting, saving time in establishing the plot.

Put your family and pets to work

Why pay for actors when you can put your family and pets to work? Film all the Christmas fun as it happens to catch an everyday moment that you can portray in an unusual way.

Shoot your story in one place

Basing your story on a Christmas celebration lets you shoot it all in the one place, saving you time and money on travelling to different locations.


Christmas is full of funny moments. Capture them as they happen or set them up. Are there family traditions that you could mine for comedy gold?

Get inspired by classic Christmas movies

The season of goodwill offers lots of opportunities to find moments where people are kinder, helping those in need. Get inspired by classic Christmas movies like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ or ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.

Capture the journey home for Christmas

The journey home for Christmas is a sentimental one, but can also be challenging. Try imagining what could go wrong on the trip or just film your own to capture what makes coming home for Christmas special for you.


Think in different genres – try creating a horror version of what lies beneath the Christmas wrapping paper or making a thriller with a surprise twist on the holiday season.


Try telling a story without dialogue. Make your images so strong that they need no words. Don’t forget the music, though – it adds emotion to your images.


Shoot the same scene from different angles to vary the look of your film, getting in all the Christmas details. Don’t forget you can use time-lapse to show transitions in time.


Never forget the power of light and take advantage of what the holidays have to offer. Make use of all the Christmas lights to give your film a stunning seasonal look.

Submit your 140-second film to no later than 15 January 2016. It must give a different perspective on an everyday moment, be shot in HD and in English or with English subtitles. You could win the Grand Prix of a Nikon D810 film kit plus a networking trip to the Cannes Film Festival.




We held a Google Hangout with Elliot Grove, our #NikonFF juror and Raindance founder, recently and he gave us some great advice on finding inspiration for your film, ideas for working with our ‘Everyday Moments’ theme, and tips for new filmmakers.


A Juror’s Point Of View

What are you excited about seeing in the Nikon European Film Festival this year? 
When I see films, what I look for is the story. What is so interesting is the jury this year. Each individual looks at each film from a different point of view. The tech enthusiast will look at it very differently from the photography professional, and I will learn from that. Thanks to the support of Nikon we are really focusing on seeing great visual images and sound this year. Film can evoke such emotion using visual images. 

What inspired you to join the jury of the Nikon European Film Festival?
The reason I allowed Raindance to get involved is because it is so democratic. It does not matter who or what or where you are. The winner last year had very little experience, but came up with a simple idea that was so touching. It had a certain honesty to it.

If anyone is watching this and has always wanted to make a movie, what a great chance it is. You may not have made it into the final but you have made a film. It doesn’t matter what your level of experience is because we do have these different categories. It’s interesting to see what the story is, and how you choose to say it is so important. It’s pictures and visuals. The movie that won last year had absolutely no dialogue, just pictures.
If you want to get known, put your work into film festivals. The Nikon European Film Festival is a really good place to start.



Making Your Film


Where do you find inspiration for making films?
Inspiration can come from several different areas. You might see a story in the newspapers and be inspired that way. You can really get inspiration from news stories – there might be a situation you can take and twist. That’s one idea. The other idea is to look at your own life. Maybe something happened to you, or you might notice something that has happened to someone else. You can take that information and exaggerate it for effect. 

Sometimes ideas just pop into your head. Once you have the idea, the key thing is to write it down.  Draw some images, or you may want to take a piece of paper and think… the first shot I want to see is this…the next shot I want to see is this… and do a complete shot list.

What pre-planning processes should you go through to make a film?
Once you’re happy with the idea written down you can then go and shoot it. However, before this you need to organise. Professional shooters think about how long it is going to take to shoot it, and where can you shoot it. Out of that comes a budget, where you list everything you need and all of the people needed. And next to individuals names you put how much you need to spend. 

Then you have to think about payment. There are so many different ways you can pay for people – the first being cash. Or, if you don’t have cash, then you can pay by deferred payment. This is a ‘sign the contract and I will give you money later out of the profit’ process. 
Money does not make a better looking film, whatever what your budget is. I have worked on films where we did not have enough money. People think of getting money as a problem solver. In fact they should look at their film as a series of challenging creative experiences.

Sometimes having no money makes a better film. Many filmmakers wait for the big budget, in actual fact they should just film with what they’ve got. 
When I came over to London in the 1970’s, I worked with Sir Henry Moore. I noticed that at 11am everyday he would walk back through the valley but take an indirect route passing a little stream. He would always put something in his pocket.  The one day there he was at the farmhouse, sitting eating breakfast, with little bits of bone and stone he’d picked up on his journey. I noticed he was sketching little bits of bone and stone. I asked him “Why are you of all people sketching these little bits?” He replied “I am building up my vocabulary of shapes”. That is what film makers do – build upon ideas.

What tips do you have for working with the theme ‘Everyday Moments’?
The universal moment is such a great tool to use as a filmmaker. If you see a Christmas tree or a wedding, you do not need to explain to anyone what is going on, we all know.  If I’m waiting at the bus stop, everyone does this, we all experience these things. Once you’ve chosen a universal moment  you must then think about what element you can add to that and show us something unusual. 

If I was making a film I would choose a really boring universal moment, like brushing my teeth. What new insight would I give to the audience to make it different? You could make it a comedy or a horror, anything. The possibilities are endless. Explore your vocabulary of story, pick one moment and just do it with whatever resources you have. You want to make your film. Go and do it!

Should screenwriting come from the heart or take a commercial approach?
Of course you should write from the heart, but you should decide before you make a movie, because sometimes you have to write for money. Asif Kapadia, our #NikonFF Chair of the Jury, in the amazing films he has done, has chosen deliberately only to write from the heart. There are other filmmakers who only write for money. 

Could you give us some directing tips for new filmmakers?
Your basic vocabulary of directing is that you want to get the master shot, which is head and shoulders, the medium shot, your close up, and then your extreme close up. The fourth shot you want to get is the reaction shot. You want to get little shots, so when you’re going to the editing process you can mix it up again and show some detail. It just makes your film more interesting. The basic rules of filmmaking are: get a script, get an idea, write it down, and then get a camera and point it at actors. You will learn so much by just taking any camera and shooting something. You will see in a minute where you have messed up.

The winner of last year’s public vote was a comedy. How does comedy differ from other styles of filmmaking? 
In comedy we laugh when something completely different happens. Comedy is really different. The main thing to remember is that, in comedy, the main character in the story does not change. The basic rule of comedy is that someone is challenged to change and they don’t. The difference between comedy and horror is that horror is filmed full frame, whereas comedy is from more a wide shot. Horror has a lower budget because we don’t see very much. Comedies that work at the box office usually have the big stars.

How do you know when your film is finished?
Movies are not ever finished they are simply abandoned. There is always something you wish you did better. However, you will know when it’s finished. At some point you will know or a friend will say “don’t do any more, just finish”. Some people I know would work on one movie and then leave it and work on another one. You ultimately know you’re finished when the deadline comes.

Submissions are now open for the Nikon European Film Festival. Early submission is recommended for the best chance in the public vote, opening on 18 November.  

Key entry criteria are:

  • Your film should take a different perspective on the theme ‘Everyday Moments’.
  • It must be 30-140 seconds in duration, including titles.`
  • Films should be shot in HD and in English or English subtitles.
  • Your film can be shot on any device.
  • Only residents of the following countries are eligible to enter: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vatican City

Submissions close on 15 January 2016. Find out more at