GUIDING LIGHTS: HANNAH PATTERSON AT GALWAY FILM FLEADH
28 January 2016
Throughout our Guiding Lights film mentoring programme, which runs for nine months in 2015-16, we're publishing a series of articles giving insight into the participants’ journeys and experiences.
In this, our first article, screenwriter Hannah Patterson heads to Galway Film Fleadh with her fellow mentees for masterclasses, marketplace meetings and general industry networking.
Hannah Patterson: Embarking on the nine-month Guiding Lights scheme by taking a trip to the Galway Film Fleadh was the perfect way to jump straight into the programme. An intimate festival with international scope, it offered the chance to get to know the other participants – a mix of 15 writers, directors, producers and exhibitors – within a convivial, relaxed atmosphere whilst also watching new films and attending the industry events.
Forgoing masterclasses with actor John C. Reilly (We Need to talk about Kevin, Chicago, Wreck-it Ralph) and filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Kandaha, Gabbeh, The President), I decided to instead take advantage of the festival’s marketplace, a two-day event which includes a series of one-to-one meetings with a range of financiers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, film funds and producers. Representatives from Film4, BBC Films, The Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen and Creative Scotland all attend, alongside commercial companies including Pathé, eOne and specialist outfits such as Spanish and Latin-American focused Latido.
It’s a great opportunity to develop new relationships, talk through current projects and find out what companies are looking for, particularly those outside the UK who might be harder to meet face-to-face. Having several very diverse projects at different stages of development, and one slated for production in 2015, it was the ideal moment for me to discuss their specific needs and how they might be positioned in the marketplace.
The one film we all watched together was Stephen Fingleton’s debut feature The Survivalist. A tense drama set in the near future, about a man living alone in the forest who opens himself up to a desperate mother and daughter, it’s a compelling, visceral piece of filmmaking, playing out like a Western, complete with pared-back dialogue and striking visuals.
To complement the screening, a closed session was organised for Guiding Lights participants, with producer Robert Jones, actress Olwen Fouéré and Stephen himself, during which they talked candidly about the entire filmmaking process, from writing, casting and financing, through to festival exhibition and distribution. Both inspiring and sobering, it was a rare chance to hear the no-holds-barred story behind the making of the film, and a reminder of how much tenacity is necessary to get a debut feature into production.
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