From film club to film festival - The Fleet Film Student Festival

17 Jul 2019 BY Dan McGrath

8 mins
From film club to film festival - The Fleet Film Student Festival

In one of our most remarkable and inspiring stories of the year, The Sixth Form College, Farnborough recently teamed up with member of the BFI's Film Audience Network, Fleet Film to create the Fleet Film Student Festival.

Check out Into Film Club leader, Dan McGrath's account below on all the hard work that went into the hugely successful night as well as his advice to any teachers feeling inspired to create their own festival.

We have been aware of Fleet Film and wanted to work with them for a while, and it was through Into Film Programme Delivery Coordinator for the South West, Jane Coulter that we were finally introduced about two years ago. After the initial introductions, we developed a relationship with Mike and Maurice from Fleet Film and began consulting with our Film Studies representatives on the best ways to work together. This started with students volunteering for screenings but eventually became the ‘Fleet Film Student Festival' - a festival that showcased the best of our students' work.

We worked closely with Fleet Film to develop the format, which included guest speakers, screenings of professional short films and the screening of eight student films.

We sent 20 films to the Fleet Film selection team who had the unenviable task of shortlisting to 8. However, they were so impressed by the quality on display that they ended up selecting 11 final films, 10 of which were solo projects with running times of 4/5 minutes and a final 10-minute group project. The shortlisted films were as follows:

  • The Unexpected Love (Charlotte)
  • The Sun in the Day (Ewelinka)
  • Humanity (Ethan)
  • Remember (Dominic)
  • Paper Aeroplane (Ellen)
  • Castillo (Eleanor)
  • Daphne (Nell)
  • The Last Napkin (Tim)
  • The Hit? (Max)
  • Squircle (Rouge)
  • Watching the Detectives (Ellis, Kieran, Lewis, Callum, Lucy & Jack)

To get a sense of the serious talent and hard-work on display from these students, you can check out Squircle at the top of the page together with an interview with Rouge as well as Castillo below along with an interview with Eleanor.

The evening itself was a huge success and was attended by over 130 people, including the students' friends and family. It was an honour to share their excellent films with an audience of cinephiles and many of the students contacted me afterwards to express their pride at seeing their own film on a big screen. Films are made to engage, move and evoke a response - not just to pass an exam - and the night really represented that.

I have to say that Into Film have helped hugely throughout, from making the initial introductions to promoting the festival online. Throughout the process, students were given a real understanding of how a festival works and the importance of showcasing your film as widely as possible, the latter of which Jane played a crucial role in. Following the event, she managed to get both Squircle and Castillo entered into two further festivals - Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol and Two Short Nights in Exeter.

Setting up a film festival is a lot of hard work and takes real organisation but is also a massively worthwhile exercise for any club leader. With that in mind, I would suggest considering the following:

  • Can you find a local film society who will provide you with an audience and a venue? If not do you have space at your school or college to host an event and who do you want to invite? It is absolutely fine to start small. Like in my case, Into Film can be very helpful with that initial introduction so just send them a message and find out your local Programme Delivery Coordinator.
  • If you are working with a third party like a film society, ensure you have one key point of contact at the society and one point of contact in your school/college to guarantee that communication is clear.
  • Identify an event date and work back from that. Make sure you leave enough time to complete everything and ensure you have the films ready way in advance. We began planning the event about 10 months before it was held.
  • Consider who you are trying to attract to the event and create your marketing accordingly. We developed a social media video campaign with interviews with the filmmakers being shared on Instagram and Twitter as we were keen to attract a younger audience.
  • Be aware that the festival is not a revenue generating event. Complimentary tickets for filmmakers and their families are key to building the audience. After all, without their films there would be no festival.
  • The main thing is to view your event as a celebration and a chance to have fun. Nothing beats seeing your work or your students' work on the big screen being appreciated by an audience.

If you are a film club that would like to explore a possible collaboration with your local cinema or film society/festival, please get in touch with Into Film!

Senior Curriculum Manager at Farnborough Sixth Form

Dan McGrath, Senior Curriculum Manager for Media and Film Studies

Dan McGrath is the Senior Curriculum Manager for Media and Film Studies at The Sixth Form College Farnborough in Hampshire and has been teaching for over ten years and continues to be passionate about all things film related. The department he runs is made up of a team of specialist teachers and technicians who continue to offer the best teaching of Media and Film across both A Level and CTEC courses.

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