I’m about two weeks away from launching Screen Stockport Independent Short Film and Television Festival, www.screenstockport.co.uk, which has been my life for the past six months. To help raise funds for the film festival I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign which you can find here: But before you back the campaign you may want to hear the story so far…
The idea for the film festival came after having my own short film shown on my local theatre’s huge cinema screen. It was done after my school’s annual show as a surprise for my teachers. After it screened, the feeling of people coming up to me saying how much they enjoyed the film was amazing and I thought to myself, why isn’t there a film festival around here for other young, aspiring filmmakers?
With all the media, film and television courses running at local schools and colleges it was surprising that, when looking for film festivals in the North West of England, they were few and far between.
In fact it’s amazing that, considering the BBC and ITV, the two biggest broadcasters in the UK, are moving up to Manchester (about 20mins away from Stockport), there are hardly any opportunities for young filmmakers to network with and show off their skills to these institutions.
So I set about organising Screen Stockport, to create a grass roots film festival and a space for filmmakers of all ages to come together in celebration of independent film and share experiences, advice and contacts with each other.
All wrapped up in film after interviewing director Matt Bloom
My ultimate aim is for young filmmakers and more experienced filmmakers to hopefully create partnerships and form collaborations with each other, and for heads of production companies and broadcasters to come to the festival and recognise the talent on show.
I knew that the film festival needed a website and a Twitter and Facebook account, as they’re a great way to connect with filmmakers from all over the world. I spent many hard nights learning how to code and build a website which would hold all the information about the festival, and many enjoyable nights discussing independent film with filmmakers from all over the world through Facebook and Twitter.
I wanted the film festival to not only act as a platform for filmmakers, but also as a learning resource. I didn’t want the film festival to be just a one day event, I wanted to use the site as a tool to inspire and educate young filmmakers, about the film, TV and media industry.
So I’ve been up and down the country with my camera creating a web series for the festival, getting interviews with directors, actors, writers and producers to talk about their personal journey, how they made it into the industry and any advice or guidance they would pass on to young filmmakers.
My highlight so far has been interviewing the founder of IMDb, Col Needham. I’d found out, after reading an interview with him in my local paper, that he had seen his first films at the venue for our film festival. I couldn’t believe it! I travelled to the IMDb headquarters to do an interview, he was great to talk to and gave a full account of how IMDb was created, he even gave me an IMDb mug to take home!
I’ve realised that the overriding message delivered by each person I’ve interviewed is that, if you work hard and are determined, you can achieve anything.
As an independent film festival I also think it’s vitally important to promote real independent film projects on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter and share them with our community. Bit by bit we’re creating a community of passionate film lovers and filmmakers, with many of the blogs leading to full blown interviews with the filmmakers through Skype.
Sharing news about the latest technologies in the filmmaking world with our community I think is also hugely important. Things like talking to other students about the video capabilities of DSLR cameras just helps them realise that they can create a really beautiful, high quality film relatively cheaply.
I shot and edited a film recently on the Canon 5DMkII to promote a category for the film festival called ‘Stockport People’, inspired by DSLR guru Philip Bloom’s series of ‘People’ videos. After posting it online, Philip Bloom saw the film and Tweeted about it. He also ‘Liked’ it on Vimeo and commented ‘nice vibe’ on it’s page.
To have him actively become involved with one of the film festival’s promotional videos was amazing and demonstrates the incredible power of social media.
Another way in which we’re doing this is by screening the fantastic independent feature film, ‘Being Sold’ to local schools and colleges. The feature had a totally online launch through the innovative distribution platform ‘Distrify’, and is a forerunner for how independent film will be released in the future.
Whilst being completely revolutionary online, the film was also shot in Stockport in just two days by a Stockport based director, Phil Hawkins, and won the award for ‘Best Film’ at the London Independent Film Festival. I’m pleased to say that Phil, who has been described by Steven Spielberg as ‘one of the best new and upcoming directors’, will also be doing a Q&A after the screening with the students.
The debate about digital release has become even more prevalent with the recent riots in England destroying the Sony warehouse and with it many copies of independent films. Chris Jones, an independent filmmaker who I’ve interviewed for Screen Stockport, recently appeared on national news speaking of his own indie film, Urban Ghost Story, being destroyed in the fire.
Now more than ever it is important to reestablish our sense of community back in the UK and Screen Stockport is as much a community project, due to it’s focus on the town and it’s people, as it is a film festival.
That is why I recently wanted to attend a meeting about a LocalTV initiative being put through by the government. I thought Screen Stockport, with all the work we try to do in putting the town’s projects, people and places on film, could be involved somehow.
The main speech was delivered by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and the Olympics, Jeremy Hunt. I listened intently and kept hearing about how this would ‘give young people an opportunity’, ‘reflect the voice of the local community’ and perhaps be put together by ‘kids in a garage, like ‘Wayne’s World’’.
I had a huge grin on my face, this was exactly how I saw Screen Stockport TV, giving young, local filmmakers an opportunity to produce content and documentaries about the town.
Approaching Mr Hunt with a Screen Stockport card in my hand my optimism turned to disappointment. I started talking to him about all the work I’d done so far, creating the film festival as a way of bringing the community together through a celebration of independent film. He kept looking over my shoulder for someone else to talk to, completely disinterested with anything I was saying.
It resulted in him finally nodding and saying rather abruptly ‘It’s all on the card then?’. I nodded and moved on feeling fairly dejected. Handing out cards and talking to other people about the film festival, I became quite concerned. The man who, in my country, is in charge of Culture and Media flat out ignored the initiative I had been working for the past 6 months let alone approached it with any enthusiasm.
However I believe that we can make this film festival a success without any government backing and instead look to people who are passionate about indie film through IndieGoGo. Screen Stockport will hopefully support independent films and filmmakers, both locally, nationally and internationally, for many years to come.
Joe Barratt is an 18 year old editor and filmmaker from Stockport, England. He is currently organising Screen Stockport, an independent short film and television festival, and developing a web series which focuses on supporting creative talent and connecting independent filmmakers from all over the world.
At the age of 16, he edited and filmed second camera on a broadcast children’s series for Channel 5 entitled ‘Family’. He did the offline edit for 10 x 7 minute episodes which focused on the everyday lives of a Hindu family from Stockport and has filmed and edited videos for Little Wonder Television on a number of different projects.
He is about to study Drama and Screen Studies at the University of Manchester and plans to start making his own short films using the Canon 5DMkII very soon.
I’d like to thank Mike Babiarz for putting me in contact with Film Courage, and for Karen Worden for giving me this opportunity to write about Screen Stockport.