The Glasgow Youth Film Festival has been radically expanded for its seventh year. Its unique team of 15-18 year old programmers have waved goodbye to ‘family friendly films’ and opted for a line-up of edgy new releases, and added a host of events to get Glasgow’s youth engaged with film, and empowered to make their own.
To get the low-down on these exciting changes, we spoke to festival programmers Christina Milvy (18), Kirsty McKechnie (16), Louise Callaghan (16), Sean McInally (16) and GYFF Marketing and Engagement Officer Adrianne Calgie.
Can you start by telling me a bit about the festival?
CM: Well, it’s the only festival in Europe to be programmed completely by young people.
LC: The opening film’s The Signal, which is a sci-fi thriller, and after that we’ve got a night called Cult Classic, where we’re showing Sean of the Dead and doing a zombie dressup which has prizes and stuff.
KM: We’ve got a wide variety of films, some sci-fi, some comedy, and also an anime, called Time of Eve, which looks really good, and we’ve got a couple of tie-in events…
CM: …there’s a cosplay parade, so people will dress up and present their cosplay to the audience, with prizes for the best one.
LC: And there’s an anime drop-in, just before the movie, and that’s absolutely free.
And how did you get involved?
KM: I’m signed up to the GFT newsletter, so I saw it at the bottom and thought ‘this looks pretty cool!’ and went for it.
SM: I applied to become part of the team in 2013. The GFT were just looking for passionate young people, so it didn’t require any experience, all I had to do was make a video in which I answered some cinema-related questions. I wanted to get involved because film is what I love and where I see my future, and I knew immediately that this was an unmissable experience.
CM: I genuinely don’t remember where I heard about it. Oh! I picked up a leaflet from somewhere, and thought it looked really interesting because I want to be working in media, so that’s really original and intriguing. Then what I did was fill out an application form, which asked why I wanted to work on it…
LC: ‘What’s your favourite films?’
KM: ‘Who’s your favourite actor?’
CM: …’if you could cast anyone in a film, who would you cast and why?’ Those sort of questions.
LC: I found about it from school, through my personal care teacher who asked me about it, and I got the application form and filled it out.
CM: And here you are!
And how’s the experience matched your expectations?
SM: I expected there to be a lot of watching films, discussion and organization. I also watched the trailer from previous years, and this was one of the most exciting things – I was really looking forward to making a witty trailer with a team of other young people.
There was a lot of films to be watched – but that was great! We watched films I never would have seen otherwise – films from all over of the world. The group held great discussions; we were all really passionate and not afraid to disagree. In my first year in the group, I wrote the trailer so I had fulfilled one of my goals. This year, I also got to direct which was an amazing experience! What I hadn’t expected from the whole experience was the feeling of empowerment – we all had the feeling that we were influencing the landscape of film for young people in Glasgow.
KM: I think it’s given me a wider knowledge of film too. Before this I’d just look at a poster and be like ‘maybe, maybe not’, but here, particularly in the beginning where we didn’t really know where we were gonna go, we just kind of came in and we’d watch a couple of films of different types, and it was really interesting to hear people talk about what they liked, what they didn’t like, and that helped me to work out what I liked about films, what I didn’t like, and kind of know more about films as well.
LC: It’s made me realise that sometimes alternative films are better than mainstream films as well. Sometimes!
AC: It helps the group think more critically about film as well. There are quite a few groups about filmmaking that’re getting quite popular, but there’s not an awful lot to help them get into distribution, putting a festival together, running events. Whereas everything we do, the youth team have a hand in. They pick all the films, help to market them, help to run all the events and all of that kind of thing. So it’s really giving them the experience of, not just the filming of the trailer, but also promoting it and putting it out there as well.
Have these experiences changed your ideas about what you want to do in the future?
CM: Experiencing programming a festival, I think I’d like to maybe go into it, because I’m not totally decided, but I would definitely think about it because I’ve really enjoyed my two years here.
SM: I’ve always known what I wanted to do – make films. The GYFF gave me an insight into the specifics about distribution (getting your film into cinemas) and festivals. I was in communication with professional filmmakers and cast, taking them out for dinner and conducting Q and As alongside them. I learned about marketing, budgeting and the film industry all over the world.
KM: I’m not really interested in directing, so it was interesting having something to organise. I do like film, but I’m not interested in filming, so I think it was perfect for me to plan a festival.
So we’ve talked about how enjoyable this stuff is, but were there any bits that were really hard?
KM: I think filming the trailer was hard. It was filmed in quite a cold, wet day.
LC: And it was like 7 o’clock in the morning, and it was pouring with rain and we had to run down an alley…
CM: And try not to fall! But I think it gets tough when you’re trying to connect things too… We have a green event where we’re showing Jumanji and Labyrinth, and so at the beginning we were thinking about how it could all tie-in, and how to tie in the trailer for the festival and the brochure, because we had to brief the visual arts students at The Tramway and we had to really think about that. And it was challenges to get the right kind of design.
AC: All the young Tramway artists came, and we gave them a brief and they went away and then presented it. That was quite good because they all had to decide what cover we wanted for the brochure, which images we liked and why and think about that as well.
Which events are you most excited about, which do you think people should really go and see?
LC: The Signal, it’s a really good film.
CM: I’m really excited for the anime film. I’m a really big anime fan, and it’s kind of like a classic, and it’s on a Sunday evening with a cosplay parade, so that’ll be really fun.
KM: I’m excited for the whole thing to be honest! But I’m particularly excited for the green events, we’ve got a space down in Barras Art and Design studio, we’ve got Jumanji and Labyrinth, and we’re decorating the set and making it into a proper event with food and everything.
Were there any things you were keen to get in there, or that you think people would really enjoy in an unexpected way?
LC: Class Enemy. We all really wanted that in.
CM: And workshops as well, will be really useful.
AC: There’s a directing and acting masterclass with Tamara van den Dop, writer, director and star of Supernova, a Dutch coming-of-age film we’re showing at the festival, and we’ve also got a panel on writing for film and TV, as well as a filmmaking masterclass with Robert Florence.
What one thing have you taken from your experience with the GYFF?
CM: Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. With everything, but especially foreign films! Just have an open mind and go for it.
KM: I think I’ve learned a lot more about film processes… I never really appreciated just how many times you have to do the same shot just to get it right!
LC: The whole experience was really good! But to get experience of marketing, and how to get films out there, and how much work actually goes into a festival and how many people are involved.
SM: As a filmmaker, I got to know more about what the audience wants and what they’re going to pay money for.
For more information, and for tickets to this year’s festival, visit glasgowfilm.org/festival/gyff