A Day in the Life of an Artistic Director Knowing the ins and outs of a film festival is an absolute must, not just for travelling with your work, but for creating the opportunity to join a festival team at some stage in your career.
From marketing to programming and networking, they are a mine of information on our industry and the people in it. In our latest A Day in the Life interview Artistic Director Maeve McGrath talks us through her road to overseeing one of the fastest growing festivals in Ireland. From here she breaks down the format of the Kerry Film Festival team, her role and hones in on the oakley sunglasses uk importance of crafting good relationships in the arts. "Some festivals are a little different, so they may not have an Artistic Director. They might have a Director and then a Programmer and various different people around them. I am the Artistic Director at the Kerry Film Festival, and I have programmers who work with me during the festival season to help with submissions. "Basically my remit is to look after the whole festival, making sure the submissions are on time, that we get a good pool of submissions to select from and that we have a series of events organised at the festival from start to finish. "We also work on events that go on throughout the year, so people are always calling us about various different things. Even though the festival happens at a specific time, my responsibilities can run all year round." IFTN: What kinds of films are you seeing submitted recently and where do you usually screen? "We get a lot of people who submit and come from all over (particularly from Europe, which is fantastic) who come to Kerry to see their films. It's great for us as well because we are often the premier festival for them. "We screen at Cinema Killarney who are amazing. Because everything is moving, as you know, toward DCP, other formats are a thing of the past and it's important that we screen somewhere that is accessible. Tom Cooper who runs Cinema Killarney is a significant support to the festival, we screen there and also in some lovely little churches in Killarney. We screened 'Mise ire' there last year in the church in Killarney and that was lovely, plus the photos look great! [laughs] so there's the added bonus of that. It's a really nice option to have." IFTN: Talk me through your training background and what key skills you need to work in this role? "I loved performing so I went to Trinity and studied theatre, went on to work in theatre and ended up in telly, so it was a sort of funny journey I took. I was out in 'Ros na Rn' acting and this great opportunity came up with Grasn na Men, who were running a fantastic course on producing and developing. "I was very lucky to have been part of that course in association with GMIT and it was that really set oakley tactical me on the road to producing film. I went on to produce my own short films along with being a producer for Limerick City of Culture 2014. I programmed the film Strand for Bram Stoker Festival and I am part of the creative team for Elemental, Limerick's Arts Festival. I did go back to college in Mary I, Limerick and did an MA in Media Studies and it was only after I completed my thesis titled, 'Irish Short Film, The Road to Oscar' that I applied for the job at Kerry Film Festival. "In terms of skills, you need to be punctual, assertive and kind in this job. You also need a good general knowledge of film. I personally have a real love of the short form of film." IFTN: It's interesting to see how people actually transition from theatre to film. "And I still do act, this is the thing! I was in Vancouver before Christmas for ten days working on a theatre piece with Ireland's, The Performance Corporation and Boca del Lupo. It has been a great gift to be able to go back and do that. The skills that you need to do that, like coordination, scheduling and similar, they all lend themselves to what I do in Kerry and elsewhere. There's never a right course or a right time. All the experience you gain along the way adds up to help you. You can start in one place and end up somewhere else, and change as you go along. I went back with the experience of working in television and film and was able to bring that to my studies." IFTN: People can underestimate the value of those skills you pick up along the way. As you mentioned yourself there's coordination, admin and business skills, but also just knowing how to treat people properly. "That is incredibly important. You meet so many people along the way. For instance you could be screening somebody's film and some reason it stops half way. It might be nobody's fault but it is my job to go and find that filmmaker and say, 'By the way, we are going to screen this again, don't worry, it'll be fine.' If anyone is upset about something you need to make the effort to fix it, and when there are tough decisions to be made you need to make them with kindness." IFTN: Speaking of other people again, how does your role differ from other roles in festival management such as Marketing Manager or Festival Director, for instance? "The Artistic Director is basically a Festival Director, who is responsible for the whole festival and then there are roles alongside, such as a Programmer, Marketing Manager or General Manager. Our General Manager looks after the running of the office, where you deal with things like bookings, screenings, dealing with film licences, making sure that everything is in order from a technical perspective, and addressing anything that comes in under the likes of tax or insurance. "The Marketing Manager then looks after the branding of the festival, asking questions like 'How does the festival look?', and 'Are press releases going out on time?' They make sure to deal with all offline and online content, including making sure the festival is advertised on the road for instance, which means outdoor signage. "My job as Artistic Director is really about the films. How do they look? Who do we have coming? What industry professionals will be here? Who are our invited guests? I make sure we look after our filmmakers as well and my Programmer works with me on that." IFTN: Unless you're actually in it or speak to people, it can be hard as a newcomer to tell the difference between all these aspects. "There are so many roles you see and festivals can run differently; some oakley cheap sunglasses festivals are run by committee and they don't necessarily have an Artistic Director. You might have one with a CEO and Programmer for instance. The Kerry Film Festival is okly sunglasses similar to many European models in that we do have an Artistic Director, who is essentially the face of the festival making sure things are running right, quality work is showcased and emerging filmmakers are supported as well." IFTN: You've mentioned other work outside the festival as well. As it is somewhat seasonal, is there anything else besides acting you or the rest of the team do when the festival isn't as ramped up? "Yes, although we do work pretty much all year around on Kerry Film Festival, the festival really kicks into action from June to October with Open Air screenings in County Kerry and then the programming of the festival for October. "We have some people at entry level, who know a certain amount about film or who might be filmmakers themselves. They stay with us for the festival period to get experience and so may go back to college, filmmaking or writing. For myself, I was Line Producer on the national tour of 'The Dead Opera' this year. "That time period suits me perfectly, just as we're winding down for Kerry. Coming into October is our busiest time and for me it's great because I find work that slots in around that. My agent who is based in London is fantastic, so she makes sure I know when auditions come up and I could be either acting or producing when I'm not doing this." IFTN: It's funny you mentioned the European model the festival follows as well, because the reputation of the Kerry Film Festival has gotten bigger and bigger each year. "I didn't actually realise until I got into it how big it is in other parts of the world. I know in Ireland it's one thing, but about 65% of our submissions are from Europe, America, Australia and further afield. It's extraordinary that we are known that widely and people want to submit to us.
We have screened Oscar Winners, such as Benjamin Cleary's 'Stutterer' and Oscar nominated films such as Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly's 'Head Over Heels' and people notice that. I asked one guy last year why he submitted to Kerry and he said, 'I looked at where Benjamin Cleary had sent his films and worked from there.'".
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