Ciara Peters previews this year’s Fresh Film Festival
Fresh Film Festival, now in its 15th year, returns on 28th March with a jam-packed programme complete with screenings, new workshops and initiatives for young filmmakers. It promises as always to educate and platform young budding filmmakers and aims to highlight them, both nationally and internationally, with films from the festival being shown in Austria, Greece, Korea and Berlin. The festival, which is a resident company at the Belltable Arts Centre, will run from 28-31st March this year.
Fresh Film Festival is for filmmakers aged between 7 and 18, with the aim being to find and support an individual filmmaker. The festival has been highly successful in the past, with film makers such as Donal Foreman, Luke Leslie and Conor Mc Mahon finding success in the industry after emerging as winners from Fresh Film Festival.
This year the festival has added a Videogame Design Workshop to the programme. Open Emotion Studios, an Irish based video design company, who are located in Limerick, have been sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and Sony to host the workshop this year.
Company Manager with Fresh Film Festival Gillian Fenton said that the workshop emerged out of talks with the Arts Council because the idea of a videogame had come up in previous festival entries. ‘We recognised the fact that young people are being influenced by videogames,’ said Gillian Fenton. ‘The two processes are very similar – of making videogames and making a film, and both of them influence each other. We are interested in exploring that a bit more,’ she added.
Also new to the programme this year is a Hot House day which was designed to help filmmakers connect with each other. ‘We are after approaching 12 filmmakers who have been involved with Fresh Film Festival over the past few years and we’ve identified them as young filmmakers that would really benefit from getting together and making a connection with one another. We’re trying to put structure around the day – but based on what their needs are. So instead of us determining what happens that day, they are actually doing it themselves,’ Gillian Fenton said.
Young Film Maker’s Advocate with Fresh Film Festival Ciarda Tobin believes that the festival is crucial in enabling filmmakers to interact with film as both consumer and producer. This is achieved by the workshops and by the education initiatives. ‘The aim of Fresh is developing their critical skills – that’s what the study guides are about. In fact it’s how they engage with films as consumers as well as producers: as consumers with the study guides, the workshops, the screenings and special events; as producers with the competitions, the workshops, and communication with the young filmmakers,’ she said.
The emergence of You Tube, Skype, Iphones, and surveillance cameras means that young people are immersed in the digital age and are used to being observed, this is why filmmaking comes naturally to some creative young people.
‘It is immediate gratification; they have the image in their hands straightaway: they can play it back and look at it. The culture of being watched is there all the time, we are constantly under surveillance and they are aware of that, they grew up under surveillance,’ said Ciarda Tobin. This is probably why the standard is so high this year. In fact, the standard raised its bar every year, in terms of technical expertise and also in terms of issues raised and how they are dealt with.
Issues raised in the past have been teenage pregnancy and bullying. However, this year there is a lot of violence, horror and murder, and a number of films opened with the premise of somebody losing their jobs. Fresh Film Festival wants to look into this further and research it said Ciarda Tobin. ‘The issues may still be there, but expressed in a different way. Fear is dealt with in different ways,’ she said.
Regardless of the issues in the film, the making of it is an emotional experience for the young filmmaker, and steers the filmmaker towards emotional maturity. Ciarda Tobin said, ‘The making of the film is emotional, you learn to rely on your friends: you’ve experienced this together, it is an emotional process in itself. Also, learning how to express your needs as an artistic person is an emotional journey. To stick with it demands great artistic drive.’
As well as achieving success and being recognised as an emerging filmmaker, the young film makers receive awards, plaques, books DVDs, and cash prizes. The idea of the books and DVDs is the inspire and support a young film maker. The plaques are in memory of their achievements – for the juniors and seniors. Cash prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to seniors which is to encourage them to buy equipment to carry on producing films. Equipment is bought for the juniors. And if that wasn’t enough, there is a Brown Bag Award for animation, a Radharc Award for documentary, and a RTE 60 Second Award for the 60 second short. Young Irish Film Makers are also offering a place for the winner at the YIFM summer school.
Fresh Film Festival’s awards, education and workshops encourage young filmmakers each year to produce films and use their creativity. As Ciarda Tobin said, ‘We need to become a society of producers: there are a lot of people who are just driven to consume, and in terms of where we are right now, these are the people we need to be encouraging who are eager to create.’
Check out www.freshfilmfestival.net for more details.