Being starry-eyed idealists, we’ve started a night called “For The Love” that we want to do semi-regularly, just like our actual love lives. Basically we all have no friends and we thought this would be a good way of picking up girls, getting out of the house and working on not crying openly in public. So far so good. It’s a night for films that have been made for no reason/client/event other than that someone really wanted to get them made. Some people just need a creative outlet so they don’t go mad and rob a post office or kick a swan to death; this night is for them.
Working with people who’ve made self-funded or non-commercially funded projects got us thinking about the whole nature of the film industry and the line between art and commerce. There’s got to be money to make these films but furthermore once these films are made they need to be showcased and how does that even work? Do you just fling your newborn film out into the ether and leave it screaming on the heath (the internet), or project it onto the side of a public building or what? This got us thinking, heck, we wonder how other film nights and festivals make themselves work. So we went out and asked a bunch of different people, just like when we wanted to find out where babies come from.
The drunken tightrope walk between making something you like and making something commercially viable has always been one of our main points of fascination. We’ve asked Simon Powell, who ran the Greater Manchester Film Festival, Steve Scott director of The Kendal Mountain Festival and our own MD Thea, who masterminded For The Love, how they make their film nights work. Basically Simon sounds like the human version of Journey’s the song “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Thea, arch-pragmatist makes some cold hard sense and Steve shares some valuable insights. Anyway here are their spicy industry secrets. Try not to burn your eyes.
Maker (ass shaker)-How have you made something that is a passion financially viable?
Steve: It’s difficult to retain the right financial balance with commercial partners, sponsors and public sector funders but our ethos is to always stick by a high quality and diverse / content rich event. We try and create a strong programme (with a few hidden gems) for people of all interests and inspirations.
Simon: Belief. 100%. And tenacity drives my passion into the minds of my peers. And a mantra of ‘Never Give up’.
Thea: As an event hosted by Maker Projects we have the support and resources of the production company itself and so it’s a pleasure to be able to invite people down and not charge!.
Maker- Is there any compromise needed in striking the balance between running the festival as a business and your love for films and filmmaking?
Simon: Absolutely not. There is a synergy between the two.
Thea: Finding films that are of a high enough standard is difficult. Initially we wanted to hold each screening in a different city, showcasing projects only made in that city to see if we could get a sense of how creativity was flourishing in different locations but it was important to open it out for our first event in order to maintain a high quality. The idea of the event is to hopefully inspire the audience to go away and find that time around the world of clients briefs and paid work to really express themselves and collaborate with other kindred spirits so it’s so important that the work we show is up there in terms of quality.
Maker- Do you know how most of your applicants fund their work?
Steve: Quite a few of them. More are crowd funding. Many are self-financing. A few are grant driven or commercially supported. It all depends on genre and the length of production.
Maker -How do you choose your programme? What processes of selection do you go through?
Steve: We have a tight team who form a pre-selection panel. Each has an area of expertise and we then get together to share our shortlist and discuss uncertainties. Then it’s over to our selected panel of Judges for the international Film Competition.
Maker- What are the main factors that work for and against you?
Simon: For me: Trust in my instincts and trusting other team members to do the job they were hired to do. Not to be controlling as this stifles creativity. Against me: A lack of patience as I want things to move faster but in this industry, patience is a must.
Steve: What works against us: Geographic location in some ways and the limited knowledge that our film content is wide ranging and has a broad appeal. We are working hard to change this and will take our event to new audiences and locations. For: Our experience and knowledge of subject and content and our address book is second to none for contacts and peers! We have made mistakes over the years and have learned from these. Oh and our reputation is strong within our field.
Maker- Why do you do what you do?
Simon: Objectively; to emotionally move and stimulate the audience through storytelling. Cinema is a powerful form of expression.
Thea: What the festival stands for seems to have struck a chord with audiences and participants alike and I’m really enjoying the debate that the festival has stimulated. At Maker, we’ve always strived to find time for passion projects in and around our commercial work and find real value in how the two kinds of work impact on and stimulate each other. So it’s great to be building on that and continuing the conversation with like-minded folk all over the world. Ultimately, it’s inspiring to see the hard evidence of really busy individuals and collectives, driven by their deep-seated need to express, create and communicate.
Maker- If you could be a character from any teen movie who would you be? Nb. we don’t really know why we asked this, I guess we were just find of flirting or something. By post.
Simon: Donnie Darko. Need I say more…
Thea: Anyone in The Breakfast Club, just so I could be in that dance scene…
Steve: Ferris Bueller!
So there you have it, folks. Some pretty useful information for those of you that, like us, need to leave the house/office and find some kind of pretense for interacting with people sometimes. We like Steve’s straightforward approach, Simon’s crazy optimism and of course we have to say we like Thea because she’s our MD, but really she’s never been the same since ‘Nam. Hope those of you running a film night or festival or thinking of doing something for the love took something away from this.