Interview with Festival Director Niall Trask (South London Shorts)

South London Shorts exists for two reasons: to show great films made by independent filmmakers and (through crowdfunding) make sure that more great independent films get made. Every month for an entire year we will show a selection of intriguing, challenging, and exciting short films curated by the team at South London Shorts. Every penny we receive from the community that comes to watch these films is re-invested into making one amazing film at the end of this year. South London Shorts is an entirely not-for-profit, community-lead endeavour. Because of this, it’s our community who gets to decide where the money goes.

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

Niall Trask: We’ve given over 100 filmmakers the chance to see their film shown in front of fresh eyes and a chance to gather feedback afterwards. I think that it can sometimes lead to constructive criticism, but more importantly encourages them to show what has worked. Also, I’d like think we’ve given our audience an impetus to go out and out and make films themselves. We show a huge variety of films, never constrained by the budget, the approach, or the subject. Most importantly though, the festival was started out of our own frustrations in obtaining budgets for short films when they are seen as the way into the “industry’’; we’re the only short film night that funds films and we recently awarded £3.5k to an independent filmmaker based up in Edinburgh, Wayne Mazadza.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

NT: Eclectically curated films, from all over the world including one student film from a Goldmiths University (with whom we’ve recently begun a partnership with), a wildcard film from me (usually fairly out-there) at a great venue: we couldn’t be happier with the Montpellier in Peckham.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NT: The three of us decide on the content and we all have quite different tastes. We pick a handful each and then start building a programme out of our mutual favourites until they sit together nicely. We’ll sometimes chuck in an early short from an established director if we feel like it!

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

NT: Personally, I think films are overlooked because of their budgets. If you serve up a delicious meal, who cares what condition the plate is in?! We make a real effort to consider everything submitted to us. Also, I think women are under-represented as directors. We’ve had nights where every film we’ve screened has been made by a woman, and not even realised until afterwards; maybe this says something about our selection process which differs from other festivals?

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

NT: We experimented with an idea: a film night that funds films, and it worked. We just want to keep building. But genuinely, I look forward to the event more and more every month. I enjoy the social side of it, and seeing people’s work. We take no money from it, just the experience.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

NT: Using FilmFreeway really changed the way we run and has boosted our submission pool to no end. It’s easy to use, it’s a fair price, and it seems to be the platform most filmmakers use to exhibit their work right now.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NT: I hope we’ll have fully launched as a production company and will be getting more people’s projects of the ground. We’d love to screen in multiple venues across South London too; maybe do a few every month.

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

NT: Boring answer, sorry: Withnail & I.

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

NT: Coach Gordon Bombay returns to manage the Mighty Ducks… joking… A good story in a well captured environment that reminds me I’m a human being.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NT: Living in South London I feel excited most of the time; there’s a demand for DIY filmmakers such as myself and we’re surrounded by lots of different communities – of people motivated to create. Whether it’s music videos, comedy sketches, shorts, or features. Our night is about championing your art form.

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NIALL TRASK is an Anglo-American, raised in Suffolk and now based in Brixton. Niall studied film, spent a few years travelling and working in the Art Dept. on films, whilst building a portfolio of his own work on the side. Highlights include a video collaboration with Animal Collective, extensive touring as a VJ for Middle Eastern-psychedelic band Flamingods and directing left-field short films. Niall is now represented by OB Management as a music video director and works as a freelance VJ, Editor & Production Designer.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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