Interview with Festival Director Craig Higgins (Norwich Film Festival)

norwich_1.jpgThe Norwich Film Festival is now preparing for it’s sixth year (2016). They have an amazing array of celebrity patrons and judges (including Bernard Hill, Tim McInnerny, Olivia Colman and Martin Walsh) who are all eager to watch your films and read your screenplays. The people of Norwich are also committed to supporting artists of all media and have been wonderful throughout our four previous years, turning up in their droves to see the best the festival has to offer.

Interview with Festival Director Craig Higgins:

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

Craig Higgins: The Norwich Film Festival is passionate about screening filmmaker’s work from not just Norwich but from all over the world. We love that we get the opportunity to help the audience see something they generally wouldn’t see, and I feel this helps to give filmmaker’s a voice and the recognition they deserve. We have also just started to screen local feature films made in Norfolk throughout the year which we screen free of charge to help raise the profile of filmmakers. There really is an incredible amount of talent out there and we are just doing our little bit to help the world see it.

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

CH: Fantastic short films made by the some of the most talented filmmakers you will ever see.

We have not yet released the programme, so here is a little bit of a spoiler. The festival will be looking to screen 50 short films, 2 feature films (both are premiers for Norwich), an industry panel of getting your film made, a talk from one of the best Editor’s in the world, BAFTA regional shorts tour, along with lots of a Q&A’s from filmmakers. We are also going to ensure that we offer lots of networking too!

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

CH: We have 5 competitive prizes this year including best short, best animation, best student, best documentary and best script. The standard of submissions this year as been incredibly high, so short listing is going to be tricky! Luckily enough we have a fantastic team who have helped to judge and score your film. What is also exciting, the best of the best films are sent to industry judges who will watch them and decide who should win our competition. Some of our judges this year include Damian Jones (Producer – The Iron Lady, Lady in the Van, Dad’s Army), Nick Moore (Editor – Love Actually, Notting Hill), William Osborne (Scriptwriter – Twins, Scorpian King), Julian Jarrold (Director – Kinky Boots, A Royal Night Out), Steven Hall (DOP & Camera Operative), Jane Gull (Director – Sunny Boy, My Feral Heart) & Hugh Fraser (Actor)

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

CH: That’s a good question. It’s difficult, because festival’s only have so much allocated time to screen films and usually the best of the bunch are the one’s which are screened. However, you sometimes have that middle pile of films which are good, but don’t always make it through due to another film being submitted with maybe a similar theme but can be slightly stronger in terms of its narrative. What, I would say is even if your film doesn’t get through to one festival don’t stop trying! If you believe in your work, get it out there to festivals, screen it in local bars etc….

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

CH: Easy – we love films! We also enjoy that we are the first people who get the opportunity to watch some of the most exciting, engaging and inspiring films out there and we get to screen them! How brilliant is that? We also love meeting and hearing from filmmakers and anything which can help showcase and bring people together is fabulous.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

CH: Well this year as been a huge development shift in the festival, keeping in mind that everyone involved with the Norwich Film Festival are volunteers. We are now running as a small charity (but are due to apply shortly to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in the next few weeks), we have increased our web content for filmmakers, increased our social media fan base, built up an impressive list of judges & patrons (Brian Cox, Olivia Colman, John Collee & Tim McInnerny), offered monthly screenings and an increased networking opportunities for filmmakers. We have worked really hard this year and we are planning bigger and better things for 2017 already!

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

CH: I would love to see the festival become BAFTA accredited. That is my dream! It would be great if we could also continue to build the level of submissions we receive each year and offer the audience even more than we are providing now.

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

CH: Jaws….. I love this film!

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

CH: Great story, originality, creativity & something that stay’s with you even when the film ends.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

CH: Norwich is such a creative city, we have a host of incredibly talented filmmakers, a brilliant picturehouse cinema, 2 Universities which offer film related courses and a lot of love from the people of the city who welcome all creative types. Norwich as also played host as a location setting for big budget films such as Averngers: age of ultron, Tulip Fever, Stardust, James the Giant Killer and so on. I would love filmmakers to come to Norwich to continue filming as it offers so much diversity.

Don’t forget the Norwich Film Festival will holding it’s annual festival from the 10 – 13th November. It’s gonna be fun! Come along and enjoy something different.


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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