Waterford Film Festival proves another fine success

Michelle Heffernan Reports

Garter Lane Arts Theatre played host to an enraptured audience of film lovers and filmmakers at the 11th Waterford Film Festival, which was held on the weekend before last.
Over 250 short films were submitted or entry to this year’s festival, with a unique mix of films from Ireland, Europe and the US screening at the event.

Festival Director Stephen Byrne was pleased with the turnout of 400 plus film fans and underlined the festival is growing in popularity with submissions up 25 per cent from last year
“We received several hundred projects from filmmakers and writers from across the globe, Ireland, UK, Canada, Philippines, even Australia,” he stated. E4S3Pic
Narrowing down the submissions is a very tough task, but Byrne emphasises the festival aims to promote all kinds of films and filmmakers, from the low-budget amateur to the high end producer.
Stephen added: “Our aim is to support and encourage films of all genres, and we accept films with budgets of €2,000 and films with €30,000 budgets or more.”

Stephen himself is from Waterford, having grown up in Tramore, and now working in film production out of Dublin.
As a young filmmaker he struggled to break into the industry and find sponsorship for his work, and the Waterford film festival aims to help budding screenwriters or even established filmmakers to get the recognition they need and deserve.
The Festival is run in partnership with FilmLab, a film production resource run by Waterford Arts Office. The winning script at the Waterford Film Festival receives a bursary from FilmLab for use of their production and editing equipment free of charge over two weeks.
Award winners at the festival also receive a specially made Waterford Crystal trophy as well as a nominal cash prize in praise of their work.

As well as boosting opportunities for filmmakers the festival also adds value to the local economy.
Said Stephen: “We have actors, producers, editors etc flying in from UK, Europe or even USA, and visiting the city hotels, bars and restaurants. We estimated that the festival generates approximately €50,000 for the local economy over one weekend, and we’d would love to see more locals becoming aware of the value the festival brings to the city centre.”

Although funding has been cut since its beginnings in 2006, Stephen hopes the festival will expand into a longer event, with guest actors, guest directors and more events to attract locals to the talent in Irish and international film. If you’re interested in submitting a film for next year, Stephen advises to “not be shy” about getting in touch.
“We encourage all films of all genres, from one minute long through to 22 minutes long. Don’t be shy about running any idea by us!” With luck the festival will return to a greater audience in 2018.

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