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Horror Lockdown Short Film Competition – Get to know our winners (Part 1)!

14th September 2020
By Caroline Lichnewsky

 ***Get to know James Cookson – the director of TOYS *** 


A couple of weeks ago, our Horror Lockdown Short Film Competition came to an end and directing duo Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead awarded the Best Short Film Award 🏆 to TOYS, directed by James Cookson.


James has kindly agreed to share some insights from behind-the-scenes and how he came up with the idea behind his winning short!


A: Hi James, congratulations on your win! Could you tell us a bit about your background?

JC: I’m a film fan and wannabe filmmaker. I was the kid who started playing around with his parents camcorder and have slowly progressed up from there to study film at uni and I’m now a commercials director making shorts in my spare time.



A: Why did you choose to enter the competition?

JC: I loved how specific the brief was, everyone was in the same boat, trapped in lockdown and with the same starting point. Personally it was a much needed burst of creativity at a time of inactivity. 

A: How did you come up with the idea for your short? 

JC: I'm definitely not an actor and my children don't listen to me, so the idea of using toys jumped in there straight away. And toys are a classic horror trope. Being house bound in lockdown had my mind spinning with anxieties and fears and I wanted to capture some of that. I think most parents have a pretty healthy fear of bringing up their kids in a world that often seems out of control. So the teddy bears monologue was developed from that idea. He’s trying to save the kids from this corrupt world by killing their parents… classic maniac mentality.


A: Any anecdotes that you’d like to share about making it? 

JC: The toys were pretty well behaved. The teddy bear is my wife’s from childhood and I would have loved to actually burn him for real to add to the horror but I wasn't allowed! A friend and talented regular collaborator, Daniel Godward, voiced the bear and that really brought the whole film to life.


A: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about? 

JC: The next short I’ll be working on will be produced using the prize money. Very excited to get started on that one and will definitely have professional actors involved this time around.


A: Any final thoughts you’d like to add?

JC: I hope you keep the competitions going. It really engaged a lot of people to do some fun and creative work at a tricky time. I don't have social media but you can check out some of my other work here:


For your viewing pleasure – as much as ours – you can re-discover TOYS here: