Director and screenwriter Charlie Lyne likes to keep things brief. His short film, Fish Story, is screening at London’s Sundance Film Festival, in the UK Shorts section.

Fish Story first played at the flagship Sundance festival in Park City, Utah, in January. “It was surreal to be there; it was cold and snowy and mountainous,” Charlie told the Weekender. “I’ve sort of learnt to expect a kind of mixed experience from those massive festivals. It’s easy to feel quite lost and forgotten, but this really blew me away. It does feel like there’s still an atmosphere, despite the mania,” he continued. “With a short, there’s very little to do. You get all the benefits without the pressure.”

His contemporaries who entered feature films in the festival “got to see nothing.” “I got to see loads of films,” Charlie said. “This is the end of the festival run, then there’s a couple more festivals in June.”

The application process for Sundance starts about six months before the festival; Charlie made the film last summer. “I submitted a rough version towards the end of the summer but I didn’t believe it was accepted. It was very bizarre,” he said. “This film was never intended to be a proper film. There were so many other things I tried to get off the ground, and imagined as my big break out project, and they just fizzled out. It was quite freeing with this film to be at the mercy of the tide.”

The 13 minute film was inspired by Charlie’s friend Casper Salmon. In the 1980s Casper’s grandmother was invited to a gathering in North Wales for all people with a fish surname.  “I delighted in making him tell this story over and over again,” the filmmaker said. “The first half of Fish Story is him re-telling me the story, then me investigating it. There was no trace of it, which made us all assume it never happened.”

Charlie, who grew up between Streatham and Brixton, has always been a fan of short films. “I’ve always found that joy in making a short,” he said. “Plenty of stories that wouldn’t lend themselves to full format work as a short. I dislike the way that shorts are claimed as a gateway to a feature. Whiplash won the top short prize and they did it so they could make a feature film. A few years ago every other short film you saw was so clearly a trailer for a feature they wanted to make.”

The filmmaker started his own movie blog as a teenager, which he did in his spare time while studying for A levels. By the time he left school he turned that into a “half career” and secured enough freelance work to keep him going. “I taught myself the technical stuff of filmmaking very slowly,” he said. “Or I dived into it too quickly, then I had to just work it out.”

While touring Fish Story, Charlie has been making another short film. “I thought it would be finished and six months later it’s still going!” he said. “There’s an art form of short film making that I really love.”

 Fish Story screens at Sundance Film Festival: London on Sunday 4 June at 12:30pm, at Picturehouse Central, Corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street, W1D 7DH. The festival runs from June 1-4. Tickets available at: