Interview with Mariah Mathew (Little Wing Film Festival)

Little Wing grew out of passion, persistence, and frustration at the difficulty of finding paid work for young professionals in creative industries. We’re about providing first-time film makers with the tools and opportunities they need to foster career growth, from entertainment and education, to networking and support.

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

Mariah Mathew: I created Little Wing as a platform for first-time filmmakers to have their work seen, and to be rewarded for it in more ways than ‘exposure’. We’re doing everything within our means to reward them with prizes that facilitate their next project and foster career growth. Working unpaid is such a difficult and unsustainable expectation of young creatives trying to break into their industry, and as Little Wing continues to grow alongside its filmmakers, I hope to make it something of a pebble in the pond towards changing attitudes around unpaid work.

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

Expect a lovably small, grungy theatre above a pub with a long history of launching careers in theatre and comedy. Over the weekend we’re hosting a filmmaking workshop amidst screenings, and want to foster an atmosphere of support, collaboration and development. For the public, it’s a space to see some incredible films from the next generation of filmmakers, and for filmmakers, it’s a space to see what is being produced by their peers and meet like-minded creatives over a pint in the bar downstairs. Oh, and free popcorn.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The festival is open exclusively to first-time filmmakers within two years of their first film, recent graduates within 2 years of their graduation date, and current students.

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

Having access to the best equipment doesn’t guarantee a great film – but it doesn’t hurt. First-time filmmakers aren’t necessarily the most affluent or opportunity-rich of people, and despite being talented, lack of accessibility to equipment and costly software can be a disadvantage that makes it harder for new starters to have their work considered in many festivals. We want to provide a step-up in getting these films to a professional standard that you’d see in festivals, rather than accept only those that have the means to already at that level already.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

When I was trying to break into the creative industry, my unpaid internships, volunteering and ‘work experience’ made living in London unsustainable, when also working for minimum wage to pay rent. When the expectation is that young creatives have to work unpaid to begin their careers, it disadvantages those who don’t have financial support, and those who aren’t living at home. I got so fed up with working hard, and knowing I have the creativity and drive that could generate great things, but people weren’t willing to pay for it when the demand was such that they could fill the position for free. I decided to create a space where I could hire myself, and try and alleviate the struggles of young creatives that were in similar positions.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway has been the most user-friendly submissions platform I’ve used so far. I look forward to seeing their filmmaker network continue to grow, and having them branch out into different accepted currencies (come on, GBP!).

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

The path of Little Wing will be very much directed by the demand from young creatives and what changes they want to see in their industries. Starting in film and growing each year, we would soon like to integrate a design competition element into the festival, and over the next few years branch out into music. We have a Community Forum online where young creatives are encouraged to share their experiences in their industries and give suggestions for what changes they would like to see and where Little Wing might be able to assist.

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

Possibly Howl’s Moving Castle. Or Pan’s Labyrinth. I tried learning Spanish from watching it and realized I was probably developing an accent from the 1940s. Also Edward Scissorhands, American History X, and The Life of Brian.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Something that shakes me with empathy for the human experience.

How is the film scene in your city?

London’ is the film hub of the United Kingdom. One of my concerns when first imagining the possibility of a festival was that perhaps the festival scene was saturated with this kind of thing already, but there’s been a clear call out for support of new filmmakers and as we grow we’ll continue to set ourselves apart. It will be interesting to see how the city contributes to Little Wing’s growth and direction.

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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