Interview with Festival Director Simon McGuire (Limerick Film Festival)

The Limerick Film Festival is about to enter its 7th year.

Interview with Festival Director Simon McGuire:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Simon McGuire: The Limerick Film Festival has always tried to achieve recognition for film makers locally. Limerick and the mid-west has always had competition from the other regions of Ireland in the industry and we felt that by creating a platform for film makers that it may attract some of the industry to our city and region.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

Simon: This year, like previous years, we try to put on a programme of guest talks that will inspire both new and professional film makers in various crafts. The process of film making is always at the heart of our festival and by bringing craftspeople, who are at the top of their game, to the festival to talk and meet and greet the audience then we have achieved our mission.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Simon: This is a tough question and not one easily answered. We have a team of judges who firstly short list the films into 12 categories and then select the the winner for each from those short lists. The result is different each year in that the judges have always given each film equal consideration for the categories they have been shortlisted for. The competition has increased every year and thus the challenge to judge is becoming more and more difficult however this is the challenge all film festivals meet each year.

Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

If a festival has criteria (rules of submission) that are met then it should be considered in the pot with the other films. however there are short films that don’t meet the rules and guidelines for certain festivals and while they may not be successful for one festival because of this it doesn’t mean that the films won’t be accepted to other festivals. A piece of advise would be for the film makers to read carefully both the rules and background for each festival they want to enter. If you film does meet these then the film maker needs to move to the next festival rather than trying and then being obviously disappointed.

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

Simon: Each year there is a huge challenge to get the mountain of work started and completed for the Limerick Film Festival. As the festival is based in Limerick Institute of Technology, it is the staff and students who take on the roles of the team. Each year there are new students so there is always a learning curve for the team but this is the foundation of the mission for the festival. Giving opportunity to student film makers to be a part of their own festival and capitalise on meeting the professionals that attend. Getting their name out there.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Simon: Since its first year in 2010 the festival has grown from a one day to a three day event. There is always a challenge to get the audiences in the door and we have a staple end of festival event that does just that. Our Short Film Awards Show has been there since year one and has become recognised and our unique selling point. Its a four camera live production that is streamed live (for those who can’t make it to the venue) and honours the filmmakers, both nominated and winners, for their films that were shortlisted.

As the years has passed and we are in our seventh year, we have had the honour of hosting a series of influential guest speakers including, Brendan McCarthy, Co Author of MAD MAX Fury Road; Pat Shortt, Comedian, Writer, Producer; Lelia Doolan, Producer; Pat Comer, Director; Nathan Nuggent, Editor; Eamon Little, Director; Patrick Cassidy, Composer; Nick Ryan, Director and many more.

We have grown with our film makers over the past seven years and as their talent improves so has our small festival and we hope to continue to grow with them.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Simon: In 2020 it is hoped that Limerick City will be the European City of Culture, of which they are bidding for this year. We plan to be one of the year’s events to look forward to. There are also talks in place where we may expand by working with other events and festivals in the region. Collaboration with the communities and other event organisers is key for Limerick and its culture. By working with others we can create a more fruitful and media rich culture which could be appealing for all ages and tastes.

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

Simon: Since a child I have always loved John Sturges’ ‘The Great Escape’ (1963). I have several copies of the film in different formats on different devices. However ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is becoming another favourite.

I like films that have a large cast and intertwine them to great effect for the drama. As a professional editor too I admire the challenge of telling stories like these and keeping the audience’ attention throughout.

Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Simon: A film can be shot well, its sound touch you, the acting push the audiences emotion under the director’s artistic vision however there this cannot be achieved without the jigsaw solving talent of the editor. A great film has a great editor who’s work is seen yet goes unnoticed.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Simon: Limerick’s film scene has grown in the past 10 years and is continuing to grow. With the building of Troy Studios in the city and the increase of third level students in the region who are constantly producing short films and broadcast content there has never been a better time for film makers to set up in the region.

With support network groups such as Behind The Scenes along with film festivals such as the Limerick Film Festival. The Richard Harris International Film Festival and the Fresh Film Festival, Limerick’s film culture is one to currently be admired.

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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