Cromarty Film Festival

The Cromarty Film Festival has been an active part of our small community for a number of years and we have watched it grow into something which is nationally recognised and held in high regard. In 2015, we decided we wanted to join the organisers, in celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary.

Catriona Mallows led a small group of volunteers in heading up a new youth strand to the Cromarty Film Festival, 2016, with the support of HYAH Creative in Your Community funding…

Our presence on the committee created room for more engagement with young people throughout Cromarty, and further afield. It was agreed that an emerging programmers strand would complement the already well-established committee of seven. The Cromarty Film Festival has always been an event for all ages but we wanted to replicate this in the internal structure of the committee as well as in our audiences.

We decided that we wanted to engage young people in film, across different mediums. After applying and successfully securing funding from Highland Youth Arts Hub to promote film among young people, we began preparing a workshop and developing a programme suited to younger children. We would use a particular venue to screen a variety of children’s film, such as Jungle Book and the BFG, and several workshops were organised: ‘I-wanna-be-like-you-oh-ohhh’, a mask-making workshop before the screening of Jungle Book, and Messy Ness, an interactive film experience for under 5s.

Over the course of several months, we worked together and with the committee to programme films and arrange workshops. We managed to secure the Screen Machine from Regional Screen Scotland, and we decided this was the perfect venue to host our Emerging Youth Strand. It was an inclusive, comfortable and atmospheric space – made all the better by the fact that is essentially a cinema in a lorry!

The first weekend of December sprung upon us in what seemed like no time at all, and it was time to bring all that we had organised together. Caffeine, clipboards and cameras at the ready. Our Jungle Book workshop attracted 12 children, 8 parents and 4 younger people. The screening of the Jungle Book and the BFG were near Screen Machine capacity, and our Saturday night film screening of Rams was fully booked.

Being on the committee has hugely benefited us in a vast number of ways. We are very delighted to have had such responsibility and really contribute to growing the festival; the response this year has been overwhelming, and ticket sales have reflected this!

Whilst we are still slightly in the glow of post- festival we have begun plans for next year. We started gently with the workshop this year as we wanted to test the waters but seeing the success we hope to expand in this area. We are in talks with some Bafta award-winning animators who are eager to come up next year and do an extended animation workshops alongside showing some of their films. We think this will appeal strongly to the age bracket we are particularly keen on engaging in the festival and we envisage making ours a totally inclusive weekend.

Learning points:

  • Venues are important if holding a workshop, and so it would be useful to know next time the exact numbers attending so we can plan the room accordingly. Due to the large numbers of attendees, the room was quite busy!
  • Having a photographer there was very beneficial, and we had planned accordingly and so had consent forms. This is something we would definitely like to repeat
  • Perhaps try to attract an older age group next time; a craft workshop and a workshop aimed specifically at under 5s meant we only focused on a select cohort of young people.
  • This was our first active year using social media. It went really well and gave us an idea of which posts are effective and which less so. We will continue experimenting through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Guest liaison was quite organic but we acknowledged that some guests might benefit from more structure; having studied social subjects at university made us aware of this so we’re going to implement this!
  • Technical aspects of filmmaking were slightly lacking this year as there was more focus on ‘celebrities’. We think these practical talks/workshops really engage and inspire young adults so we hope to out a stronger emphasis on this next year.

Many thanks to Highland Youth Arts Hub for providing us with the opportunity to engage young people and children across a geographically dispersed area to come together, learn, and watch films!