"We have met so many local and talented filmmakers in our time making films and to have the platform to see them network and to showcase their work was incredible."
- Sam Birch, Director at Branchwork Media
SAE Liverpool Film graduates Andy Flush and Sam Birch hosted a fantastic evening celebrating the city’s finest filmmaking fare last week. The Liverpool Short Film Festival, which was curated under Andy and Sam’s production company Branchwork Media, brought together a deluge of filmmakers and film enthusiasts from all over the city to watch the visual masterpieces submitted by local talent.
With almost 500 people marked as ‘interested’ on Facebook, tickets quickly selling out and having to release a second batch the night before, Andy and Sam’s film festival received a lot of interest and support. The event also attracted local celebrities Ricky Tomlinson well-known for his role in the Royle Family, and Tina Malone from hit show Shameless.
“Our first Liverpool Short Film Festival took place last Thursday (2 August) at OhMeOhMy; an incredible bar on the Dock Road,” Sam Birch tells us. “Our company usually creates promotional videos for other businesses as well as music videos and adverts, however being filmmakers ourselves we have seen so much talent out there and we wanted to showcase it.”
“We were able to select 8 really high quality short films to show on the night. The 8 we showed were the absolute best and all 8 were very well received. Multiple people commented to me that there wasn't a film they didn't enjoy, not something that can be said for all events of this nature,” Andy told us.
To showcase this talent, there were two awards up for grabs on the night: Best Local Film and Best Short Film. This encouraged over 70 entries to the festival, with 8 shortlisted films screened on the night before the winners were decided by the judges.
“We were overwhelmed with the positivity that people had for the event as this is only the second event that Andy and I have organised. To hear so many nice things said about it was just so humbling,” Sam explains. “Ricky Tomlinson and Caroline Tod-Richardson (London film festival curator and film producer) are huge supporters of creative talent and they were so impressed with the films that they saw, they even took the chance to speak to the filmmakers and audience at the end. Shameless star Tina Malone also came down to share how proud she was of the city for its strength and creative flair.”
Current SAE film students and staff were in attendance at the festival too, to not only show their support but enjoy the fantastic event that Andy and Sam organised. Seeing recent graduates having such a positive impact on the local film industry is a great source of inspiration for the students too.
James McDougall, SAE Liverpool Film student said:
“It was an incredible evening that was really professionally ran. The both of them have done so well to achieve what they did and it shows that with passion for what they do they can achieve anything - a big inspiration for people who have just finished uni.”
Francesca Tomlinson, SAE Liverpool Film student commented:
“It’s obviously always inspiring to see events like this one which was also so successful, but more than anything it's a constant reminder to other students, like myself, that we can do so much if we put our minds to it. For me, it creates a real sense of excitement, because the film world is a community, and through Andy and Sam organising this, it allowed for both creators and just admirers to come together and feel connected in some way and I believe that’s really important. It’s definitely made me realise it’s something I want to get involved in and I know a few of us feel inspired to look into organising our own in the future.”
It was important to both Andy and Sam that the event attracted a wide range of people and wasn’t perceived as too niche, so the fact that so many people attended was hugely encouraging for them both.
“I think we knew we would be able to hold the attention of local film-makers and lovers, but to get the nod from people that weren't necessarily there for the networking side, was an extra bonus,” Andy explains.
Celebrating local talent and inspiring others, the Liverpool Film Festival reflected Andy and Sam’s genuine passion for filmmaking and their joint goal to actively support Liverpool’s film industry in any way they can.
“A highlight for me was seeing a room full of filmmakers just chatting about cinema and planning their next project together, Liverpool is a city that has so much to offer and where it is at now is just the start,” Sam explains.
So what’s next for Andy and Sam aka Branchwork Media?
“The feedback was so good that we have kickstarted our efforts into the second year of the festival. We had already planned to make this an annual event if it was well received. The goal is now to grow this event into being "the" Liverpool Short Film Festival,” Andy said.
“We hope that events like this also can help give our production company extra exposure and help us continue to grow. Hosting events of this scale is all great experience for us and ties into our production morals very well.”
Watch this space, as we’ll certainly be hearing more of Branchwork Media and the Liverpool Short Film Festival.
Header image and photography marked * courtesy of Paige Edge Photography