Blur's Alex James uses Nikon D5200 to direct his own short movie for Virgin Media Shorts (video)

To kick off the annual Virgin Media Shorts short film competition, the TV, broadband and phone provider supplied Alex James, bassist from Blur and famous cheese-maker, with a Nikon D5200 and asked him to come up with something under the banner of "Life is Short".

His final effort not only managed to fit that brief in two minutes and 20 seconds, but marks the debut of an exclusive Alex James song, Superordinator. The exclusive track serves as the background for the short film and is bound to keep Blur fans happy, even after they see what happens at the end.

Slice of Life was filmed in Los Angeles, with James clearly taking the "Shorts" motif one step further. It's now available on YouTube and the official Virgin Media Shorts website and shows some great ways a normal, reasonably priced DSLR can produce some stunning high-definition images. It's worth a watch for the excellent reference to the movie Big and the Zoltar fortune telling machine alone.

Pocket-lint reviewed the £700 Nikon D5200 in February this year and gave it four stars. It's interesting that James didn't opt for a D800 or other semi-pro to pro-grade camera, and the video is all the more impressive because of it.

"I’ve always been interested in film but had never got around to trying it for myself," said James. "Like everything else, it starts with an idea and as music is so much part of my life, it quickly became the focus of the short.

"I was in LA listening to the track on my headphones. The more I listened to it, the more it chimed with the sunshine and atmosphere of the city. So I decided to make a film about being carefree and happy, with a punchline that brings it all back to earth - the concept being life is short, but music endures. I really enjoyed the whole film-making process, it was very accessible and a lot of fun."

Entries to the Virgin Media Shorts 2013 competition will be accepted until 18 July. You can find out more and check out the current contenders at www.virginmediashorts.co.uk.