SQIFF’s Queer Filmmakers Group started in the beginning of summer, slowly and steadily setting up the initiative to bring queer filmmakers together for monthly 2-hour meetings, providing a space for LGBTQ+ people involved in the making of films to share their work in progress and jump to help out with each other’s projects. The sessions were catered towards local Glasgow based artists to begin with, but we have had members join us from a wide array of Scottish locations, with people coming to sessions from Edinburgh and as far as Aberdeen. As we come up to our 6th session – in which we will be asking members of the group to pitch short films – I want to tell you more about the work we have done so far.
Our first few sessions were very introductory: we wanted to figure out what kind of support our community is missing so that we can tailor sessions towards adequately filling out the gaps. The first ever session, held in July, presented us with a group of people nervous and excited to make connections. This was followed up by the August and September sessions, in which we broadly discussed pre-production and post-production needs. We have spoken about a myriad of filmmaking tidbits: interviewee consent forms for documentary making, getting in touch with artists from other disciplines for props and clothing, shared tips on scouting filming locations, colour grading, budgeting…
During SQIFF23’s festival week, we partnered with L.I.P.S. (Lesbians In Peer Support), a group set up 20 years ago by the Glasgow Women’s Library to create a space in which young lesbians and bisexual women could come together to share thoughts, experiences and issues. Amidst the drag king workshops and camping trips the group took part in, some of their members also made a trilogy of short films called ‘Dykes In The City’. We invited the videographer (Evo Brook) and writer-directors (Louise Bennie, Ely Percy and Sara Dunlop) to watch the films with us. Reflecting back to the early 00s, our guests told us about their love for L.I.P.S., finding community in queer support groups, filmmaking as a tool for expression and all the technical aspects about their films.
After the success of the screening-panel format, we set up our November session in the same style. This time around, we invited Short Circuit Talent Executive Miriam Newman and filmmaker Holly Summerson. We screened Holly’s film Living With It, an animation short about a perfectionist adapting to the imperfect reality of living with an illness, brought to life as a chaotic supernatural flatmate. Holly and Miriam took us through the application process, support offered and potential outcomes of the Sharp Shorts scheme, which Holly was a recipient of. Demystifying funding opportunities and their application processes to make them more accessible resonated with our members, who had previously asked for guidance in that regard.
It is our main goal to accommodate our members as best as possible, and thanks to the anonymous feedback forms we offer during our sessions, we have learnt what
has worked after each meeting and what needed a little more attention. We have since our very first session:
– Set up a Discord server in which members can interact beyond the in-person sessions, share resources, job opportunities and other materials. It is also just an online space in which to recommend films, share past projects and ask for advice on work in progress.
– Found ways to reconsider the physical space in which we host our sessions, by arranging the seating in the way that makes most sense for the specifics of what we are up to – from rows of seats for screenings and panels and to circular arrangements for group discussions.
– Tailored topics of discussion for the future get-togethers. There was a lot of excitement around a potential 48h project, so we are working on how to set up a session around it for the new year.
– Committed to making the Queer Filmmakers Group as accessible as possible, by offering BSL-English interpretation, free FFP2 masks, travel & access fund for covering transportation to and from events, snacks and warm drinks at the meeting room and hosting at the CCA, which is a wheelchair accessible venue.
As a filmmaker myself, monthly community-building sessions have offered me a warm embrace that I didn’t quite expect. The filmmaking industry can feel very discouraging at times. However, arriving at the CCA monthly to see like-minded people who are excited to find out how the evening is going to go and ready to discuss ideas on how to troubleshoot filmmaking projects has made me open up about my creative process and needs too. SQIFF’s commitment to accessibility and community feel like home. The past 4 months have been absolutely lovely and I am very excited to see what will come next. If you want to come join the next Queer Filmmakers Group session, check out the SQIFF events page here and book a free ticket. Hope to see you there!
Leo Torre (SQIFF’s Queer Filmmakers Group Facilitator)