INTERVIEW WITH… KATE WILLIAMSON FROM SHORTSIGHTED CINEMA
We welcome Kate Williamson from Short Sighted Cinema on the blog today. Kate has a hand in many cinematic nights and festivals around London and we’ve managed to snaffle some time with her to hear all about them. Hallo and nice to speak to you Kate,tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
I’m the Director of Short Sighted Cinema, which means I spend most of my time (outside my day job!) watching short films, writing about short films, talking about short films and generally thinking about short films… We aim to highlight the best British short filmmakers, so there’s a lot of time spend scouring the Internet and attending film festivals to find them. There’s a lot of planning and discussion to get our events running, grow our audiences and continually developing what we do.
Short Sighted Cinema spans online and screening events within London. How did it all come about?
I have an unrelenting itch for ‘projects’ and am always on the look out for something extra to get stuck in to. I fell into programming when I was running a monthly shorts screening in a tiny basement gallery with Phil Goldie and felt like there was potential for something bigger. Originally, my plan was to build a pop-up cinema in empty high-street shops… but turns out, that’s pretty difficult. Instead, I decided to start small – I built a website, started writing reviews, got a team of kick-ass writers involved and managed to wrangle a deal with the Ritzy cinema to start up a second screening event. In perfect timing, I met Gem Carmella, who couldn’t have been a better balance. Where I had the determination to get a gig rolling and draw in a crowd, happily grinding away behind the scenes, Gem had the charm and character to bring a room to life. Between us, we managed to create a fun, friendly and catalytic environment for London filmmakers – with an online backbone to support and praise development. And it doesn’t end there; we’re only just beginning the Short Sighted Cinema journey, we’ve got big plans… but that’s all top secret…
Why short film?
Short in height, short sighted… short attention span. Ha! I think short film is a medium with great potential, allowing filmmakers to focus on the important technical details and narrative, without having to extend and exhaust a story. Likewise for a novella, or an appetiser – it’s a finely tuned taster. I prefer not to think of shorts as warm-ups for features, but they can be great test grounds for new and seasoned filmmakers alike.
Part of your stipulation is the attendance of the filmmaker, how important do you think it is to see your film in front of an audience as the creative?
It’s a key part of what we stand for. Everything we do is designed to bring people together and encouragement collaborations and we see it happening at every event. It’s about hearing your audience’s reactions, being part of the community. When film festivals are difficult to attend, it’s difficult to engage with your audience, whereas smaller local events allow you to hear praise and critique, learn something new and maybe even meet your next team.
If people wanted to send you work to be considered, what’s the best thing for them to do?
We’re always open to submissions, just drop us a hello at info[@]shortsightedcinema.com and we’ll watch it through. We programme by theme, so it can be a while before a film fits in.
When’s the next event, and what should we expect?
On the 22nd July, we’re back to our home at the Ritzy for ‘RETRO’ – where we’ll be schmoozing in shoulder-pads and taking a tumble in our time machine… screening a selection of shorts about the good old days. Expect childhood fantasy, teenage cringes, 8-bit animation and lots of sepia.
We’re also massively excited about curating the film tent this year at In The Woods – an intimate festival where we’ll be screening a whole 12 HOURS of short film. That’s about what we usually show in a whole YEAR, so… expect the crème-de-la-crème of the short film world if you’re joining us.
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
Dodgy projectors. Worst thing ever. The best bits? Hearing somebody say they were inspired by one of our events, or seeing a film made by filmmakers who met through us – it makes it all worthwhile. Also all the great times, drinking great beer with great people.
Share with us one of your favourite films and tells us why you like it…
That’s far too hard! There are so many amazing films. My taste varies but as a little sample, you can read some reviews of films I rate highly on our website. Some personal favourites recently that I’ve caught at festivals in London:
Sundance: ‘Black Metal’ by Kat Candler, an incredibly touching story about a west-coast metal frontman, who’s accused of inspiring murder.
Sci-Fi London – ‘Un Monde Meilleur’ by Sacha Feiner, an Orwellian classic, following the fall of a totalitarian dictatorship (gotta love a good dystopian story!).
East End Film Festival: ‘Bradley Manning Had Secrets’ by Adam Butcher – I’m a massive geek when it comes to the Internet and it’s netizens, this short 8-bit documentary captures that perfectly. And BAFTA nominee ‘Good Night’ by Muriel D’Ansembourg, an honest and at points, uncomfortable, drama about two teenage girls out breaching their sexuality.
Generally, I like quite dark films and I love stories about controversial characters, something that all of these have in common. It’s a tough job to tell an honest story in under 20minutes, without bias – I’m impressed by the technical skills that some filmmakers have, but even more amazing is their ability to genuinely captivate an audience.
Thanks to Kate for taking the time to speak to Festival Formula about the many nights she runs!
Below is Kate’s biography:
Director of Short Sighted Cinema, Kate is dedicated to promoting and developing the London cinema culture. Previously projects include VIBE:Shorts, a short film night which ran for two years in Bermondsey; Talkies Community Cinema in North London;The Indie Field, a film events listing; and contributed to UnderWire Festival 2013 among others. She is currently developing the London Fields Film Festival launching in October 2014. Outside of film, she is an events coordinator with a thirst for knowledge on all things Internet, technology and futures.
Follow her on twitter @KateEWilliamson / @ShortSightedLDN