Martin Greechan started the Deep Fried Film Festival in 2006, in the central-belt town Coatbridge. Eight years later and the event now spreads across venues in Cumbernauld, Kilmarnock and Romano Bridge. Martin tells us how the Deep Fried Film Festival started and who should apply to participate in this year’s event.
Can you tell us a little about why the Deep Fried Film Festival started and what sets it apart from other film festivals in Scotland?
I think what tends to make the Deep Fried Film Festival stand out besides the obvious, which is that we give all the money to charity, is that we try to incorporate the filmmakers as much as we can, making the festival not only about raising money for charity but also giving it a relaxed and family feel for all that attend. Some organisations forget that without the filmmakers there would be no festival, so it’s important they know how much they are appreciated and that ethos extends to the audience as well. Every person that attends the festival gets to rate the films and have an impact on who will win a coveted ‘Pomme de Terre,” (the Deep Fried Festival’s equivalent of the Cannes “Palmes D’or).
The Deep Fried Film Festival started in 2006 though the idea actually was formed in 2005 after I had a night out with group students from a training course I was teaching. The discussion covered not only the lack of film festivals in the Lanarkshire area, but also the differing restrictions of festivals on genres, length and the status of filmmakers. Though the landscape has changed greatly since then, at that time there were very few independent film festivals in Scotland that were egalitarian in their approach to films.
The name was an obvious one that came from the idea that you can get a starter, a main course and a dessert in Lanarkshire – all deep-fried!
Originally the idea was to show everything, and for the first two years we pretty much did, as well as not charging the audience to attend. It wasn’t until I attended a screening of the film Stick & Stanes by Joe Mcardle that Deep Fried Film Festival got the charity idea. Joe had decided that instead of selling tickets he would be donating the money direct to Mary’s Meals. We quite happily stole this from Joe and stuck it straight into our festival.
For people who have never visited Coatbridge, can you describe what it’s like and how the festival interacts with the area?
We like to laugh about Coatbridge, it’s got a reputation, as do most small towns in the central belt. When you’re on the inside looking out your can forget sometimes that it’s nowhere near as bad as the jokes suggest. We’ve got a working tram system, which is more than can be said about Edinburgh, as well as some surprisingly nice parks and countryside. When the festival started all those years ago we had to have it in the back room of a pub as that’s all there really was. Now going into 2014 there’s the Summerlee Photomedia Studio run by Culture NL, which is getting busier every year helping develop new film makers and photographers. We’ll also be back along at the Conforti Institute conference centre.
What are your plans for the festival in 2014?
2014 is a big year for us. We’re no longer just based in Coatbridge! We will be running the festival simultaneously in Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Kilmarnock and Romano Bridge. This was something we tried to do before but couldn’t get off the ground. We had almost given up when all of a sudden three groups appeared asking to host the festival in 2014, these were CVO east Ayrshire, Newlands Community Centre and Cumbernauld Theatre. This of course raises its own headaches. I’ll be going to each festival for two days to help out, but ultimately the festival will be having a lot less input from me and more to do with the various volunteers making it work in their area.
What type of films do you look out for? Who should submit films to the Deep Fried Film Festival?
The only thing we look out for are good films. We showed 126 films last year over a seven-day period, obviously it’s easier to get a short film in than a feature but that is purely down to available screen time. We tend to show 7 – 8 features and the rest is made up of short film.
My mind is awash with the literally thousands of short films I have watched over the past nine years (I have literally watched every film ever submitted to the festival).
Stand outs for me will probably be different from anyone else, but to have a crack I’d say “The Postcard” from 2010 which was a French film that had a chap jumping from postcard to postcard on a display stand, but I know that Eilidh Manson, the “Miss MoneyPenny” in charge of sponsor development and sale and Kerrie Wynn, the “chaos co-ordinator,” our name for events manager would kill me if I didn’t mention “Ella,” an animated short from 2012. There are hundreds of short films that have been absolutely amazing that have gone onto win Baftas and many other awards.
The Deep Fried Film Festival runs between 30th August – 6th September 2014, the festival are accepting submissions for 2014 until 24th May.