How To Take Part

Each year Comma and a host of Uk indie publishers will open up their books for filmmakers from across the UK to adapt their poems into short films, through this project. The adaptation challenges and commissions are run as a nationwide filmmaking project. Filmmakers are asked first to take part in our poem adaptation project, and the best of these are, the following year, invited to apply for the much bigger, short story adaptation commission. Version has at its disposal over 500 published poems drawn for a dozen independent publishers, and over 400 published stories from its own stable.

For information about deadlines, and challenges, keep an eye on this website. Or Comma Film and Version’s facebook pages.

To view the poems available, go to, click mail and enter the following:
username: commafilms
password: madinah

The happy reading. Once you’ve found a poem or a short story you’d like to adapt, you MUST first contact Ra Page at Comma Film to make sure it hasn’t been taken already. We only have permission for one adaptation each! To check the poem’s availability email

cineMADtic 2011 challenge

Key Dates:
Select poem: Fri 10 June
Deliver finished film (on DVD and quicktime/.mov file): Mon 15 Aug
Screening: Fri 26 August.

What We’re Looking For

A genuine, clear vision for realising the poem or short story. Poem films tend to be between 1 and 5mins long. A short-story film between 5 and 15mins.

Poem Films

A poem can be interpreted as literally or imaginatively as the filmmaker wishes, as specifically and as personally as they wish, or in the most abstract terms. All types of filmmaking are encouraged – from lens-less animation (flash, after-affects, compositing, etc) through to dramatisation, montage, mocumentary… you name it! If the vision of the filmmaker is clear enough, the film cannot fail. The only condition is that the poem is narrated accurately and clearly thoughout.
The poets are willing to narrate the poem(s) themselves (or even appear in them, if anyone wants them to), but they’re also happy for actors or other people to do the voice-overs, or ‘enact’ them on the screen. Or a combination of both.

Short Story Films

Here the original story can be interpreted more freely; anything from a voice-over narration of the whole text, or a voice-over narration of an abridged version of the text (cuts allowed but no additions), or a more comprehensive re-interpretation of the story in terms of spoken dialogue and a new screenplay. For this the filmmaker has as much licence as they wish, so long as the changes are clearly for the purpose of enriching and communicating the original story elements.
MP3 recordings can be made and provided by the organisers, Comma, on request, if the original author’s reading is required for a voice-over.

Technical Guidelines

Films can be produced on any format, or combination of formats. Higher quality is always the most desired. Films often drop off our showreels because of the original format quality. If it can be shot on HD, for instance, then do so! You’ll thank yourself later.

The final edited version however must be delivered to us a datafile (e.g. a ‘.avi’ or ‘.mov’ file), as well as on a DVD burn (The latter must be saved ‘as a data file’ in the burning process even if the disk it is being burnt onto is a DVD disk).

Films not submitted on this format will not be considered for the showreel. Films must not contain any adult language or imagery unless demanded by the text. They must also refrain from using strobe lighting or any footage or music that isn’t copyright-free or cleared for use by the copyright owners. If other artists’ work is used (such as music) the artist or author of this additional material must be notified of the usage permissions these films are entering into, and give their full consent to all such possible uses. See ‘submissions’, last section. Please send these additional artists a link to this page so they are able to give full consent to this use, before starting to work with them. Entry into a challenge is taken as the filmmaker’s agreement to comply to this condition and neither Comma Film, nor any of its partners, can take any responsibility for copyright infringement of any kind. This remains solely the responsibility of the filmmaker. Further consent forms will also be issued, and will require completion shortly after the submission of the film.

Filmmakers are advised to take extra care in the final stages to the film, in particular the soundtrack and voice-over of the poem. No matter how familiar the filmmaker has become with the words of the poem, they must remember the audience will probably never have heard it before and will therefore need the delivery and sound quality of the voice-over to be crisp, and perfect. Any music and ambient sounds should be very careful not to overlap or drown out the poem being read, background sound should be lowered whenever the speech starts.


Version Film Festival is sponsored by Lion Eyes

Festival & Commission Partner Futureworks

With support from The Granada Foundation

Organised by Comma Press