Interview with Festival Director Jax Griffin (The Drunken Film Festival)

Drunken Film Fest started after an angry tweet about the discontinuation of the major film festival in Bradford, West Yorkshire. It took off from there and had its first season in July 2016. Aimed at the independent filmmaker, DFF is currently accepting submissions worldwide for its second season, set to take place in Bradford across 10 days in 13 venues.

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

Jax Griffin: DFF works really hard to represent filmmakers from around the globe and level the playing field a bit. So low budget, big budget, we are less concerned with that. What we want is to give an audience to films with something interesting to say, and I’m proud to say that we’re definitely succeeding in that goal.

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

JG: Our festival is a little different. Our venues are almost all bars or cafes – non-theatre spaces. So the tone is more conversational and relaxed, but still very respectful to the filmmakers and their work. We incorporate local live music into the events – Bradford has an amazing live music scene – and this year we’re looking at bringing some interactive installation style pieces for some of the bigger parties.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JG: As long as a film is engaging and interesting, I’m willing to give it space in our program. I try to remember that one person’s idea of interesting is different from another’s, and I think our programming reflects the diversity of submissions as well as the diverse nature of the city of Bradford.

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

JG: Definitely and it’s one of the reasons this festival exists. If you scraped your film together on favours and blood, sweat, and tears, you don’t have a ton of money at the end for submission fees, so a lot of the bigger festivals are immediately not available to you. Yes, most festivals depend on submission fees to function and it’s an important part of the process, but it does create a bit of a boundary and that’s something we’re trying to find a balance for.

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

JG: Is it too cheesy to say passion? I’m a filmmaker myself and I love the idea of finding and promoting new talent from unexpected places. When you see a film from a 10 year old Iranian girl, it kind of changes your view on what’s possible.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

JG: I can not express enough how amazing it is working with Film Freeway. When I began the festival, I hadn’t heard of them and thought I was going to be stuck with Withoutabox, which I’d used extensively as a filmmaker. Luckily I came across Film Freeway first and haven’t looked back. The support team is always gracious, helpful, and expedient and the ease of use makes sorting submissions far less of a task than anticipated.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JG: I’m ambitious, so I’d like us to be one of the top festivals for independent filmmakers. By 2020, my dream is that my plans to move the festival into production both locally and abroad will not only be in action, but successful and we’ll be active in promoting the local independent film industry.

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

JG: Dr. Strangelove. I even have a tattoo of Slim Pickins riding a nuke on my forearm.

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

JG: A great film is entertaining, with no dead space, and leaves you with something to think about.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JG: Bradford has a very rich film culture. It’s actually the very first UNESCO City of Film and has a fascinating history of local production with films like Meaning of Life, Billy Liar, and Room At The Top. The National Media Museum is here where a few years ago they discovered the first ever colour film that was actually from 1902. Major productions are constantly in and out of the city doing filming and the indie scene is growing, if a bit hidden from view.

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Interviewee BIO: Jax Griffin moved to her ancestral homeland of Great Britain from the US nearly five years ago to complete a masters. She’s happily settling into British life, though she refuses to say “aluminium”. Aside from the film festival, Jax co-owns a small media production company in Bradford with fellow University of Bradford alum Rachel Bottomley. She actually hates long walks on the beach because sand is course and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere, but she does enjoy video games, live music, and puzzles.

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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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