Interview with Festival Director Michael Wearing (The Rob Knox Film Festival)

The Rob Knox Film Festival is held annually in Bexley, London. in memory of the actor who played Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Go to the Film Freeway submission page to submit your film:

I sat down with the Festival Director to learn more about this unique festival.

rob_knoxMatthew Toffolo: What is the Rob Knox Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Michael Wearing: The Rob Knox Film Festival has been extremely successful at identifying talented individuals at an early stage in their career and given them recognition, and a renewed motivation to move on to better things. Perhaps the best example of this is Stephen Fingleton who won his first ever award at the festival. (Best director for the his film Driver). This year he was nominated for a BAFTA award for outstanding debut feature by a British writer, Director or Producer. Another good example is Gareth Fient who won his first award at the festival aged just 15, and now aged 21 is getting regular work as a director and editor from producers in New York, LA and London.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival?

Michael: The festival exhibits films from around the world, but is proud to ensure that locally made films are screened as well. There’s a real sense of community. Alongside the main awards night we lay on 8days of film related activity, this will include screenings at community venues and workshops. The festival ends with an awards evening and a free networking event.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Michael: We are very keen to experience films of all genres and lengths. The festival is named after and held in memory of Rob Knox who played Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince and was murdered a week after filming his scenes aged just 18. His parents are active in the organisation of the festival, so we are mindful of their sensitivities and wishes.

Matthew: What makes a great independent film?

Michael: It’s a difficult question, I’m often surprised by the decision of the judges…. But from my point of view a great independent film will tell a story in no more time than is required to tell the story. We will allow slight imperfections in the visuals but the sound should be of a high quality.

Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Michael: My principle motivation is to honour the memory of Rob, and I think that is so with the whole team. A side effect of the festival is the increased networking opportunities it has provided to me and the others involved. I’m also keen to raise the positive profile of young people and so we get them involved in all aspects of the festival…

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Michael: The main change is that from being a totally free festival. we have introduced a charge to filmmakers for most categories. This was done to reduce the quantity of entries we receive. The festival is run by volunteers and we were aware that the amount of entries we were receiving would eventually overwhelm the judges. Another change was accepting entries via film freeway instead of requiring DVDs…

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Michael: It would be good to get some increased sponsorship, and more volunteers, so that we can increase the offer.. The general format We see as remaining as it is, but we are always open to suggestions on ways to improve.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Michael: I’ve seen many films more than once, a few I would put as having seen 100s of time but there is one film that I have seen thousands of times. And that is Tootsie starring Dustin Hofmann. An incredible piece of writing, I just love the way there are so many sub stories weaved together impeccably.

Matthew: What country (or countries) seem to make the bests short films year after year?

Michael: We get great films from all over the world. I don’t think country comes into it. Our audience is predominately British, but we have had films from Russia, USA, Greece, France, Belguim, Spain, Ireland and Brazil all win awards. We are happy to show films with subtitles..

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Michael: The Rob Knox Film Festival takes place in Bexleyheath in South East London, and part of the reason we started it was because there was nothing going on in this particular area… However across London there is always film related activity going on.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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