Fresh Film Festival is a national film festival for filmmakers aged 7 to 18. Encouraging young people to make films is what we are all about. Earlier this year, we celebrated our 18th festival in the company of young filmmakers from Belgium, The Netherlands, Wales, Denmark, Croatia, Greece, USA and Hungary.
The filmmakers joined us for Streetscape, which was our second Reel Exchange, an international film workshop programme that takes place during the festival, resulting in twelve short films being produced. The films may not win Oscars, but they do capture a wonderfully engaging week of sharing imagining and creating. The leader’s films, highlighting common errors in filmmaking, are now available as a guide for young people and groups new to filmmaking and the young filmmakers are talking and planning to work together in the future, this has all been possible, through international exchange. Fresh celebrates the work of young filmmakers and we know that young filmmakers work hard on every shot, so we want to ensure that their work is seen. Distribution is essential to share the work with the widest audiences and when international delegates come to our festival they also come to see the films made by the young people. In this way, films that are submitted to the Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year are shared across multiple festivals.
In the years since Fresh Film Festival began, groups and festivals working with young filmmakers have sprung up throughout the county and it is always inspiring to see the work of our colleagues across Ireland. In recent years we have had the chance to meet and share our experiences at conferences and festivals and these meetings always enrich our approach to working with and for young artists. International collaboration is an extension of this national collaboration; it has allowed us to travel, to expand our practice, to represent Ireland and our young filmmakers and to learn from the immense experience that is out there beyond our shores. It has taken us ten years to build relationships from Croatia to Korea and as each introduction sparks another and as virtual communication evolves, it is easier to see those relationships grow into something meaningful. In 2012 the Youth Cinema Network (YCN) was established to bring together a group of international festivals, events and production companies dedicated to developing film/media with young people. It addressed our collective desire to share ideas and experiences and to find solutions to the challenges that we all face; YCN has also made it easier to distribute information, plan events and is a vehicle for international collaboration.
Often we think that because we come from a country with a small population, out on the edge of Europe that we have a lot of catching up to do. But if international collaboration has taught us anything, it is that we do have a lot to learn and we also have a lot to offer. This year 71% of senior submissions to Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year at Fresh came from groups; we know that you are making films, so why not share them? Now is a good time to think about international collaboration. There are groups waiting to link up with you and with access to Skype and to cheaper travel, there is nothing to stop you and your group from starting with a filmmaking exchange, a workshop or a small co-production. There is no time like the present – so send an email, make a plan, pack your tripod and dust off your passport.