The Edinburgh Short Film Festival showcases the best British and international short films, shining a spotlight on high quality and new talent. For its 6th edition the short film festival is partnering up with the famous Shorts Shorts Film Festival, Japan’s biggest short film festival based in Tokyo. We wanted to find out why filmmakers should keep a firm eye on the festival in the Scottish city known locally as Auld Reekie. The Festival Director Paul Bruce sat down with us and gave us an exclusive insight into his festival.
Jana Dietze, FilmFestivalLife: What qualities is ESFF looking for in a filmmaker?
Paul Bruce: Filmmakers come with all kinds of qualities and most these qualities are really fine for us! But I think it helps – especially for a Q and A or interview – that the filmmaker has a good sense of humour and is comfortable talking about their film in front of a live audience or on camera.
We also like it if they are passionate about their production and short film in general and also if they don’t mind meeting lots of people!
What is a good short film for you?
For me, a good short film should always have something interesting or new to say, and be able to take an audience on a journey. I think that the best shorts are ones which have one central idea which the film expresses and explores in a satisfying way, and which doesn’t deviate from its central idea unnecessarily.
When I started screening short films with the Leith Festival in 2005, short films tended to be more basic and very often told simple stories, rarely lasting longer than 5-10 minutes. But nowadays, short filmmakers are more ambitious, tend to make more complex stories and the films are longer and more detailed. This is all fine, as long as the film doesn’t sacrifice completeness for complexity. The ending is also very important in a short film and is the key to the film, for me.
Is there anything new this edition what filmmakers should know?
For 2016, we are holding eight nights of short film screenings over 12 days at three venues from Oct 26th to Nov 6th. There will be an award ceremony on Nov 6th as well as a link up with Short Shorts Film Festival and we’ll be hosting a night of Japanese shorts at our event and taking a programme of our best shorts to Tokyo the following June!
We are usually quite busy with our touring program and we’re also working closely with film festivals and events in Italy and hostingn two nights of short film at Hidden Door, a unique arts event in central Edinburgh in late May as well as with Short Shorts.
In addition to all that, we’re holding the above-mentioned Script Pitch competition, a funding workshop and we’ll also be awarding the Rising Star award for the most promising film-maker, networking events, drinks receptions and Q and As – so it’s a packed 12 days!
Do you have any advice for filmmakers before submitting to ESFF?
I think the classic is always read the rules, dudes! We don’t have many to be fair, just that the film should be no longer than 20 minutes and that it must have been completed since January 2015.
Why is it still important to have short film festivals in the time of internet/VOD?
Personally, I think festivals have a very important role to play and in fact, are probably more needed than ever. It’s a great time for short film, as an art form it’s really boomed in the last five years, and with the onset of new technologies, high volume distribution is possible and through the internet reaches new audiences all over the world.
So, while its easy to get your short film out to the masses, sitting at home watching a film on a laptop will never beat the sheer thrill of seeing your work presented to a full cinema, hearing and experiencing first-hand the audience reaction and talking to your audience face-to-face. Filmmakers and production crew will always prefer to meet other filmmakers and professionals in the flesh, to learn about new opportunities and ideas. To say nothing of the fun of networking and the memories!
While for audiences, it’s always better to experience a film in a shared environment in a proper screening facility and to meet the filmmaker or hear from him/her first-hand. For these reasons, no matter how much online distribution takes off, film festivals will always have a vital role to play.
What can filmmakers expect when they are attending your festival?
We always make an effort to entertain and accompany any visiting filmmakers. Last year we had some 18 visitors so, although it can be a challenge, we always have ESFF staff on hand to be with them during their visit. We also offer them opportunities to hold a Q and A, to be interviewed and we encourage networking among visiting filmmakers. We are also happy to take them on a tour of a few local bars! This year, we are hoping to take a party of visiting filmmakers to some Edinburgh dungeons for lessons in medieval torture…it’s not necessary to have made a horror film to go on this trip, but they might want to make one afterwards!
What is you experience with FFL so far?
We’ve very much enjoyed working with FilmFestivalLife over the years and one thing we’ve noticed is that the quality of short films submitted via FFL tends to be very good indeed!
We shortlisted around a dozen last year and we were pleased to be able to exhibit 9 short films from FFL from around 70 that we screened including the Oscar nominated Contrapelo by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and 90 Grad Nord by Detsky Graffam.
Another thing we like is the detailed information the platform provides, which makes it easy to update our master database. The extra film information provided is very helpful especially when we compile our internal use film catalogue!
Edinburgh Short Film Festival
26 October – 06 November, 2016
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Submit to Edinburgh Short Film Festival on FilmFestivalLife:
Late Deadline: 27 June, 2016
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