How Entering the Raindance Web Pilot Competition Kickstarted My Filmmaking Career - Raindance

My name is Phillip Whiteman and I am a previous winner at Raindance Web Fest.

So it started out with an audition, an e-casting for a feature film. They wanted an improvised scene that could be about anything we wanted.

My friend and I at the time were both asked to audition and were finding it pretty dull having to reel off a load of arbitrary nonsense, individually and with no one to play off, so we thought let’s break the rules and do a 2 shot of the both of us in the scene and add another character… The Camera. It was to become our friend’s POV and we were to ask her to become the surrogate mother of our child. That’s where it all started.

I’d heard about webseries before and thought this would be quick, cheap, easy to shoot and we’d have a great little series; And, the best thing was we could distribute it ourselves, online, without any middlemen saying our idea was too “out-there”. It was win win but with most ideas they can be left to simmer until they fade out.

the vessel title

But Raindance was to intervene.

A few days later I’d read online that the festival was to host a Web Series Pilot competition. It was meant to be. The e-casting was filmed using a laptop webcam, and that wouldn’t do – not for Raindance anyway – so we only had about 6 days to put a higher quality version together before the deadline.

Being an actor I had a few connections to crew (with their own equipment) so I called around and got people onboard the favour train. I, excitedly, went and bought what I thought was the most important item for making a film… A clapper board.

We shot the pilot one morning, put the episode together and in a mad rush dropped off the screeners.

About 2 weeks later we were sat in the cinema wondering how we got there but still very proud that we had made it happen. The screenings finished, the lights came up and they announced the winners of The Webseries Pilot competition…

We won.

The prize was a package of Raindance film courses which have come in handy since and I’d recommend them to anyone thinking about entering the world of film. And invaluable support from Rupert Bryan at Motion Picture House ( to help us make the rest of the series that following summer.

It was a new world entering the world of film/webseries promotion which is a big can of beans that I won’t open now…  But basically you become your own one-man-band-movie-studio.

So we had now completed our series and premiered our first episode on Timeout:

And we were off!

The series has gone on to be selected at various film festivals and win multiple awards from around the globe including: ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for Louise Jameson and Robin Soans, ‘Best Produced Comedy Series’ and ‘Best LGBT Series’. We had an article in ‘Look’ magazine, linked up with surrogacy and gay organisations supporting the series who are helping make a Season 2.

SUBMITPILOTSince winning the pilot competition at Raindance it has given me the confidence to continue producing and writing other short films and begin to develop feature ideas.

Here is Force which won a ‘Guardian Film Award’:

Our 48 hour Sci Fi Film (Sci-Fi London) was shortlisted this year:

Basically go out there and bring those ideas mulling around in your head to life. You just never know what will happen and with the digital age consuming us, making life easier and easier, there isn’t any excuse not to. There, of course, is a lot to learn and slowly over time you will improve and find new resources and sources of inspiration.

How ever crazy or out there your ideas the web gives you a platform to showcase it and find out what works. And there is a plethora of initiatives and competitions out there, like Raindance’s Web Pilot Compeition.  So get out there, shoot your pilot and enter!

To watch The Vessel or see some of our other work please check out :