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Making Ipswich home to one of the best student film festival in the world!

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Making Ipswich home to one of the best student film festival in the world!

Founder of the East Anglian Student Film Festival Darren Meitiner-Harvey has seen his dream of starting a film festival in Suffolk become an impressive reality. Now in its third year, local film fans can look forward to one of the biggest student film events in the world

‘Back in 2012, whilst the world was contemplating whether the Mayan calendar resetting meant the end of the world, I was dreaming of starting a film festival in Suffolk. Despite the predictions and a Roland Emmerich film, the end did not come and this was good news for the festival dream.

‘In 2013, the Suffolk International Film Festival was born. The event was a big success; just over 600 films were submitted from around the world and the quality was amazing – it was an exciting time.

I wanted to ignite something, to offer an experience that would broaden horizons and make young film-makers aspire to achieve great things.

‘Despite the success, I felt a hollowness – the films were great, there was some great support, but something perplexed me. I knew the festival had to stand for something; it had to inspire film-makers and film fans alike, and I didn’t feel that it had captured that. I wanted to ignite something, to offer an experience that would broaden horizons and make young film-makers aspire to achieve great things.

‘After much thought, I decided to evolve the event into a student festival, and the East Anglian Student Film Festival emerged.

‘EASFF’s first event took place October 2014 at Suffolk One Sixth Form College and Cineworld Ipswich, and it was a big success. Over 500 films were submitted from all over the globe, including documentaries, animations, and short films. Workshops such as stop motion, storyboarding, and the challenges facing females in the film industry, took place throughout the day – there were even a few zombies walking around the building (resisted an obvious joke there) ... The day was capped off with a screening at Cineworld in front of a packed theatre.

‘It was hard to to contemplate what had happened post-EASFF 2014. Bourne Ultimatum and Supremacy director Paul Greengrass had even endorsed our festival, the local papers had covered the event, and most importantly students were inspired by the whole experience. It was one of the most humbling times of my life – to see so many young film-makers enthused, to see them talk about their own projects, to screen films from students that live in Sweden, USA, Lebanon – and Ipswich – was awe-inspiring.

‘Knowing that funding would not yet be within our grasp and living in an austerity obsessed climate meant surviving would be tough, but things that are worth doing are rarely easy. The dream had survived since 2012, so there was no way we were going to give up. We started planning for a bigger and better event to take place in 2015. Organisations like Raindance offered their support in the form of a prize. Local companies such as Summer Isle Films got involved. And One Sixth Form College agreed to extend its unwavering support. Now all we needed to do was call for entries!

Just over 1700 short films, animations, music videos and documentaries have been submitted

‘It seems that film students around the world have been busy, as just over 1700 short films, animations, music videos and documentaries have been submitted. Obviously it’s not all about quantity, so trust me when I say that the quality is there – films from Germany, Iran, USA, Singapore, and East Anglia, indistinguishable from professional standards.

‘We have been incredibly fortunate in recruiting amazing talent to deliver this year’s workshops. There will be storyboard sessions delivered by portrait and figurative artist artist John Williams, scriptwriting with co-founder of Livid Films Matthew McGuchan, and acting for screen with the hugely talented director Jane Gull. Other workshops include starting up a production company, the role of the producer, and animation for beginners.

Ipswich_student_film_festival_2015

‘The day will end with a screening of the shortlisted and winning films at Cineworld, Ipswich. Hopefully the audience will be as blown away, moved and entertained as we were when watching the films.

‘It has taken three years to build the festival, and it will take many more to grow to the point that it sits shoulder to shoulder with the biggest student film festivals in the world … Its rightful place, we think, and we hope that the amazing talent in East Anglia agrees.’

East Anglian Student Film Festival 2015 takes place on 16 October. Follow EASFF on Twitter to keep updated

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