Brighton Youth Film Festival

Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in News, Blogs, Philip Berman

I have just had the honour of judging a film competition for the Brighton Youth Film Festival. It’s always inspiring to see how young people are evolving and deciding what processes to use when telling stories, so I was pleased to be involved.

Brighton Youth Film Festival is in its first year for children aged 18 and under. The festival will be held at the Brighton museum, within the Pavilion Gardens, on the 29th – 30th June, running all sorts of workshops and talks. The festival’s mission is to teach children about the film industry and the various roles within it, using the weekend to explore different film techniques with the children and families who take part. There will also be talks and screened interviews with producers, animators and directors who will be giving some insight into their career paths and why they chose to work with film.

The festival directors, Elke Sigg and Clare Black, also set up a film competition where children were asked to enter a film, running 6 mins or less, using the theme ‘My World’. The films were judged over a week by myself, Sue Gollifer, Robert Blishen and Clare Black. The shortlisted and winning films will be awarded during the festival weekend then screened at the Museum.

In 2012, I took part in Brighton’s Sea Festival, judging their graduate film entries and so was happy to do the same this year, working with a younger set of film makers. As a judge, I had to watch 70 films and mark them using a detailed list of criteria. The most important thing was if the film grabbed my attention and made me want to carry on watching it. Lots of the films featured chase scenes, as I imagine is because they’re quite good fun to do. Technically they were done really well, but after watching a few they tend to blend into one another, so I was trying to look for something a bit different, a film that really stood out. Those which gave a deep insight into a particular world, telling their story with perceptiveness and clarity were great, especially one which depicted what would happen if your hair accidentally turned blonde, which was a clever way of looking at identity.

Storytelling is such a focal part of what Larchmont Films is about. I can’t underline how much time should be given to constructing your story before moving onto the technical side of things. If you’re young and you have a new toy/ gadget, there’s always the temptation to try and show off what it can do before getting the basics right. Some of the film makers who entered the festival competition were more involved in using every available feature and after-effect, which is fine as the festival is predominantly about having fun, however I wasn’t looking for films that were technically advanced, it was more about the story they’d chosen to tell.

The standard was quite amazing and after a while I forgot how young the film makers were. It almost became irrelevant that they were 15-16, I started to judge them as if they were graduate film makers. Every now and again I had to stop myself and think ‘Gosh, they’re only 14, this is quite sophisticated’.

The festival asked for local companies and schools to donate prizes for the winning film makers, and Larchmont Films chose to offer a day’s experience with a production company for a junior film maker. It’ll be a great chance for them to work with us on a project, see how we work on the films in post-production and how enjoyable it is to edit a piece together, resulting in a final video that you and the client are both pleased with.

I’m thrilled to have had the chance to take part in this year’s festival and hope it’s successful. Make sure to have a look at the Brighton Youth Film Festival’s website and read up on the various workshops running over the weekend. I’ve also been told that they’ve arranged to show the final shortlisted films at Brighton’s Big Screen each week over the summer, which is wonderful.


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