The ESFF at the Screenplay Film Festival, Lerwick, Shetland

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This years Screenplay festival was as usual a highlight of my filmic year, made more so special by the band of merry teenagers I had dragged up and over the North sea to experience it for themselves.
SKAMM (Scottish Kids Are Making Movies) are an Edinburgh based youth film making group, and this year we had embarked on an ambitious exchange project with Shetland’s youth film group Maddrim Media. Following Maddrim’s visit to the EIFF in June we were now heading northwards for the UK’s friendliest film festival!

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SKAMM’s video diary of their trip including what they thought of the festival can be seen here:

Edinburgh Short Film Festival also made the trip, where an invitation programme of the best short films from the ESFF 2014 was screened in the Mareel cinema, the fabulous state-of-the-art cinema at the Harbour. This event was a natural follow-on from the Shorts fae Shetland night we held at Summerhall during the 2013 festival.

One of the highlights and always my own favourite was the Homemade in Shetland night, featuring work from Maddrim from the past year and other film makers from across the isles, it is always a hilarious and accomplished evening and this year was no less so. My favourite film was Maddrim’s ‘21 Leap Road’, a parody with some hilarity inducing one- liners that won me over.

This year the group of young film-makers also embarked on a 24 hour film making challenge:

and with SKAMM arriving off the boat to join in, it was a frantic and fun experience for everyone!

As usual Screenplay was sprinkled with film industry stars, we were lucky to chat to Joanna Hogg whose film Archipelago featuring Tom Hiddleston was a slow paced, tense family drama enhanced by its own island setting in the Channel Islands.

Clio Barnard had the posse of teen film makers weeping en mass as they left the cinema, but most agreed the Selfish Giant to be their favourite film of the festival. This stunning adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s short story was thought provoking and really, really sad.

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We also bumped into Brian Cox in the Mareel cafe in true Screenplay style, we chatted about the front page of the Shetland Times which that week had, for me, a disturbingly hilarious photograph of an Otter mouth wide, about to envelop a puffin. I didn’t know that happened. Brian seemed unperturbed as he told me people eat puffins in St Kilda.

Documentary Louder than a Bomb also deserves a mention as a fun, emotional adventure into the world of Slam Poetry that had many of us wishing we were hip enough to slam.

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Screenplay also managed to fit in the launch of a project by curator Linda Ruth Williams and Dr Shelley Cobb at Southampton University which looks at women in the film industry since 2000. Attempting to raise awareness and research the reasons of the imbalance which perpetuates in the industry today. As a female film maker I have certainly had times when I’ve felt belittled and patronised for being a woman when I’m working at a low level or even as a director on small projects. As a runner surrounded by the laddish culture of mainly male crews which for me has veered into the offensive, there is little you can do if you want to be employed again. I hope this project will highlight some of these factors and give women in the film industry a voice to lead change.

All the young film makers in SKAMM and Maddrim, both male and female, were very energised by this lecture and discussion, feeling motivated to go out and succeed in their chosen field.

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Screenplay was a big hit with the young people in SKAMM, they enjoyed the relaxed vibe, inspiring but approachable guests and of course the views from the toilets in Mareel.

As a frequent visitor to the festival, Edinburgh Film Festival director Paul, I’m sure would agree with me and SKAMM members that it really is one of the most friendly and astounding of film festivals.

Aidan Nicol

Screenplay runs 29th August – 7th September. http://shetlandfilm.org/screenplay/
Curated by Mark Kermode, Linda Ruth Williams and Kathy Hubbard.

You can find out more about the work of SKAMM & Maddrim Media at the following links:
SKAMM
http://www.skamm.co.uk
Maddrim Media
http://maddrim.blogspot.co.uk/

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