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The Network - 25/01/2011


Paul Macgregor, Glasgow Youth Film Festival


This February will mark the 3rd edition the Glasgow Youth Film Festival at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Part of the larger Glasgow Film Festival, the Glasgow Youth Film Festival is unique in that it is run entirely by a Youth Team, aged 15 - 18. The Youth Team selects all the films and guests, hosts audience discussions, introduce screenings and organises events.  Festival highlights for 2011 include anime workshops and masterclasses, world class magic, Berlin breakdancing, a silent disco, VJing masterclass, Comedy workshop, how to make a film in a day and much, much more... Paul Macgregor has been producing the Glasgow Youth Film Festival for two years and coordinates the GYFF Youth Team, with support from Emily Munro (Head of Learning) and programming and marketing colleagues at Glasgow Film Theatre.  We asked him about the Youth Team and their Festival.


When was the festival born and why?

The festival began as a schools film week in 2006, showing a handful of feature films to schools to coincide with the Glasgow Film Festival. By 2008 admissions had doubled, as the programme expanded. We decided it was the right time to look at growing the schools programme into a fully-fledged Youth Film Festival, with events for schools and the public. The most important principle informing this transition was to involve young people. Other festivals had youth juries but we wanted to try a fresh approach which would allow the Festival to be shaped by young people from start to finish. We created the Glasgow Youth Film Festival in 2009.

Now in its third year, how much has the GYFF grown? Is it easier for you to find sponsors and help from institutions?

In 2010 we had nearly 7,000 admissions to the Festival. We hope to expand on this in 2011 with events now taking place across the city. GYFF has quadrupled its admissions since it began as a schools film week in 2006. Our range of partners has grown tremendously. Our partners, who assist with venue and educational provision, often free of charge, come from a range of sectors (not only film) and we greatly value their support and confidence in GYFF. We have been fortunate to receive funding from the City of Glasgow (through the local authority education department) to assist with the Festival for the past three years. The current financial climate does not make funding a film festival easy, but we were delighted to announce a new sponsor for GYFF 2011, the animation software company Muvizu. We also participated in a fundraising campaign which raised a significant amount of funding through public donations.

Where do you recruit your young organizing team?

We recruit members of GYFF Youth Team from all over Glasgow through various marketing methods and by word of mouth.  We place recruitment adverts in our monthly GFT brochures and online (using social media networks like Facebook and Twitter), send email alerts to our festival partners, and take recommendations from GYFF Youth Team's friends and family. In 2010, we had around 10 regular members and this year we have 17 members who come each week, highlighting the growing popularity of the festival.  The team meet every Monday evening for 2 hours to watch potential festival films, to discuss possible events and guests, and to devise marketing strategies to appeal to young audiences in Glasgow. They also meet with external festival partners to generate ideas so that the Youth Team feels connected with the different venues where GYFF will take place.

What do you find is the main difference between working with a youth team and a professional team?

Working with a Youth Team is very different to working with a professional programming team in many ways, all of them positive!  Our weekly meetings at the GFT are informal, fun and refreshing – they’re definitely the highlight of our working week.
In the initial stages, the group's tastes tend to be relatively mainstream, which slowly changes over the 6 month period of viewing screeners from all over the world. With time, they become more open and responsive to all types of film genres. The group understands that they should select a wide range of films, they can't only show American comedies or horror films, as this would limit the festival's audience development.
They also have their personal lives outside of the GFT, so our time with the group is precious, and it's important to keep them motivated and focused on GYFF. We do this through regular communication outside of their programming meetings through their private Facebook group, emails and SMS text messages.


Are you ever surprised by their programming choices?

Constantly!  Working with a team of 17 teenagers means that there can be different reactions to the films we show them - sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes less so. The GYFF Youth Team are very opinionated and aren't scared of letting us know what they think of a film!
A lot of youth orientated films can be quite patronising, overtly sensational or moralistic in their portrayals of young people so they try to select films that they can imagine other teenagers enjoying.  It's significant to remember that young people go to the cinema in groups, usually to watch American films, and therefore it can be difficult to convince their friends to take a risk on an unknown film with subtitles. While the group might enjoy a film, it might not be selected, as they believe it would struggle to gain an audience.
A few films selected for GYFF 2011 by the Youth Team took us by surprise as we were unsure it would appeal to them, such as Days of Harvest by Marco Righi, The Ugly Duckling by Garry Bardin or Heartbeats by Xavier Dolan. Their reactions to these films were overwhelmingly positive and demonstrated how far they've developed their taste in world cinema.  On the other hand, sometimes the Youth Group don't enjoy films featuring young casts that have been critically acclaimed at festivals elsewhere, usually due to their concerns over pacing, tone or relating to the characters.
The GYFF Youth Group are excited to finally watch their selections on the big screen, especially Wasted on the Young, King of Thorn, The Be All and End All and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc- Sec. It promises to be a varied and exciting line up!  The most important part of the selection process is that the Youth Group feel that they have complete ownership of Glasgow Youth Film Festival and are confident about presenting their choices to their friends, family and the public.


Could you give us a quick outline of the festival and its different strands? (e.g. films, workshops, other events) What will be the highlights of GYFF 2011?

GYFF 2011 takes place over ten days in venues across Glasgow. The festival opens with Paul, the new comedy starring Simon Pegg and closes with West is West.
Our overall aim has always been to give young Glaswegians easy and affordable access to fun cinema going experiences, moviemaking workshops and discussions with industry professionals. Consequently, a lot of the films selected this year focus on the talent and determination of young people like Make Believe, an inspiring documentary about young magicians competing in Las Vegas to become Teen World Champion, or Dancing Dreams which follows a group of German teenagers overcoming their shyness to perform Pina Bausch's theatre piece Kontakthof.
Paul Macgregor has been producing the Glasgow Youth Film Festival (GYFF) for 2 years, and was appointed Learning Projects Coordinator for Children and Young People since April 2010.  In this role he is responsible for GFT Learning's outreach work with young audiences, such as school screenings, filmmaking workshops and running the GYFF Youth Team.
Dr. Emily Munro has been Head of Learning at Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) since July 2007 and is responsible for GFT’s Learning strategy and programme of lifelong learning, which offers creative learning opportunities for all age groups.
By Emily Boldy, Emilie Boucheteil - January 2011
Glasgow Film Festival & Glasgow Film Theatre
Glasgow Youth Film Festival