Meet the Programmers!

We’ve made no secret of the fact that the LJMU MA Short Film Festival is programmed, promoted, and run by students as part of their MA course at Liverpool John Moores University. But who are these mysterious students? Now is the time to find out, as we tell you a bit more about some of them and their journey on the module.

This has been one of the most exciting educational modules I’ve taken throughout my academic career.

Elysia Smith, ljmu ma student

The students begin the module with a hefty list of films to watch and select. Thus begins the curatorial process. It also allows the students a unique insight into the industry they’re studying. Freya Yeldman, an MA Film Student says, ‘I’m loving the opportunity to select and programme films. Not only has it given me the chance to see some breathtaking work, but I’ve been able to see how that work can progress through the festival system. In the long term, I’m really excited to see what becomes of these filmmakers as their work has rekindled my hopes for a bright future for the film industry.’

Students were broken into strand-specific groups after the initial selection process and then worked together to discuss and narrow down their given programs (Fiction, Animation, or Documentary). It’s an intense and thrilling time, as the festival begins this process in late January and then only has a few short months to curate the films, notify filmmakers and receive and collate materials, and begin promotion before the festival takes place on the 1st of April.

As MA Film Student Elysia Smith remarks: ‘This has been one of the most exciting educational modules I’ve taken throughout my academic career. Not only am I learning something entirely unique, I am also able to use my own learning to provide a platform for other creative students and help student filmmakers broadcast their work.’

Submission for the Festival opened back in December, when the festival’s page on FilmFreeway was once again launched inviting student filmmakers from all across the world to submit their shorts. Surpassing the previous year in terms of student film submissions, we received a total of 1495 films which were then divided up for each student to watch about 80 each to narrow it down to the final highest quality, innovative, exceptional films.

It has been an opportunity to expand my film studies and understand the collaborative nature of such a distinct part of the industry.

alejandra cardona mayorga, ljmu ma student

With the programme of 40 films across the 3 individual strands finalised, the students embarked on the promotional work in different groups. Poster design, finalised by student Alejandra Cardona Mayorga, was the first port of all call. Alejandra had this to say on taking part in the festival organisation: ‘’The experience of being involved in the thinking, creation, and curation of a real film festival has been a delightful adventure. It has been an opportunity to expand my film studies and understand thecollaborative nature of such a distinct part of the industry. The co-creational practice can be very rewarding.’

Meanwhile, the other students have had more than enough tasks to keep them busy. Elysia Smith, Sarah Holdaway and Kieran Izquierdo focused on distribution of posters. Ellie Halfpenny, and Kelsey Hoskins created content for Instagram, Freya Yeldham, Natalie Ashcroft and Thomas Owens for Twitter, Ayse Ayfer, Aron Griffith, and Adam Maggs for Facebook, Cait Milner, Katy Ehlen, Jorge Atherton, and Elysia Smith for TikTok, while Laura Brooks catered for LinkedIn – all boosting our digital marketing. Beth Bennett, Josh Hinnett and Luke Beck are communication with local and national press and shared their press release (much of which has made it into this very blog).

A range of trailers for the festival as a whole and for for each strand, are being created by Luke Beck, Carl Henderson, Alejandra Cardona Mayorga, Josh Hinett, Thomas Aitken, Adam Maggs and Cait Milner – all consistent with the film festival branding, to tease the films being premiered. These trailers will be released over the next two weeks.

Despite all this hard work, the students seem to be really enjoying themselves! Kieran Izquierdo says: ‘The whole project has forced me to re-evaluate what I’m capable off and pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve great work as a collective unit.’

Adds Sarah Holdaway: ‘This experience has been extremely rewarding, the process has allowed [us] to learn various aspects of curating a film festival. From programming to PR, I can now say that I have an in-depth understanding on the inner workings of film festivals.’

And from Josh Hinett: ‘I’ve really enjoyed exploring aspects of the film industry that I never thought I’d be able to study at university, especially learning how the organisation/promotion of films and events are handled and then actually being able to do it myself. What’s made the experience better is that I loved working with the films that were submitted and have been captivated by ones that made it onto the programme. Some of the animated shorts features styles I would’ve never thought could be so emotive. Also, the documentary and fiction films put subject areas to film that I had no idea existed before I had watched them.’

This week the students continue their hard work – make sure you follow their efforts on our Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Do you have questions for our students? Ask them in the comments!

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