In 2005, Kahra Scott-James was working on one of the first video-to-mobile projects for Xtra and decided that small screens need a different kind of story.
She began thinking about short form content that was character-driven, in a series of 60-second mobile-friendly films. So Graham was born, a frustrated cubicle-dweller who is just ready to snap.
Scott-James and brother Paul made the first eponymous episode last year and it was promptly shortlisted for the Filminute International Film Festival (one of 25 films from 800 submissions). This year Graham had an award-winning slot in the prestigious New York International Viral Film Festival in April, followed by showings in Berlin and Stuttgart. In July, the siblings presented Graham in Auckland at the AUT-Idealog Innovation Series Plus event.
Now they’re planning more episodes: giving Graham a flat, a lot more live action and a cast of fellow characters. As Idealog goes to press, Graham is making his second Filminute outing (simultaneously showing at Filminute, via mobile, on television and at screenings in London, Bucharest and Toronto).
“You can only go so far in short film,” says Kahra Scott-James, “and for so many people, short film is just a stepping stone to feature film. Our first film was about setting up a narrative style that we can build on.” Graham blends 3D, 2D, live footage, sound design and music in what the Scott-James call a “digital puppet”.
The siblings both have day jobs, so they work with Graham around other work. By day, Paul is an animator, designer and director; Kahra runs audio studio Entirely Sound and teaches sound design and audio post-production. They also bring their non-day job interests (his: sculptor, hers: musician) to their collaboration.
“Doing the commercials is the bread and butter, but there is a [short film] business just taking off,” she says, pointing to Revver.com, a site that shares ad revenue on downloaded short clips with filmmakers. But their real goal is the billion-dollar revenue stream of merchandising cult characters—just like South Park, which originally started as viral email. Expect to see more of Graham.