For film lovers in Manchester, last weekend was a long time coming.
Of course, here in this city we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to film, with massive cinemas such as the Printworks and the cinematic gem that is the Cornerhouse. But there’s always been something missing – a creative outlet, a chance to celebrate and inspire Manchester’s buzzing film community. Last week, local film director Simon Powell – amazed that Manchester with all its cinematic facilities was still without a major film festival – stepped into the breach and founded the GMFF: the first Greater Manchester Film Festival.
The festival, supported by famous faces like Christopher Eccleston, had two objectives: to bring together the worlds of short film and feature film, and to inspire anyone and everyone to get out there and have a go – to brave the world of film and get filming, directing or acting.
I went to day two of the festival, which kicked off with a master class and “director’s Q&A” with Eran Creevy. At the moment busy with production of his latest feature Welcome to the Punch, starring James McAvoy and executive-produced by Ridley Scott, Creevy took us back to his beginnings in the industry. By starting out as a lowly runner, Creevy got to see up close the working methods of the likes of Woody Allen. Soon moving (with great success) into music videos, it wasn’t until 2009 that he finally released his first feature film Shifty – a semi-autobiographical tale of an Essex-based drug dealer.
The film, starring Riz Ahmed, Daniel Mays, Francesca Annis and Jason Flemyng, was very much a breakthrough movie for Creevy, receiving a BAFTA nomination and five BIFAS. It’s hard to believe that a film so successful was filmed in just eighteen days and on a budget of £100,000, but it was. On Saturday in Screen 2 of Manchester Printworks’ Odeon, Creevy brought the whole process to life. The film itself, screened after the Q&A, was electric – intimately depicting a single eventful day in Shifty’s life – but the power of the event was to juxtapose the film’s story with Creevy’s. His drive, discipline and passion shone out both in person and through his chosen medium, leaving the audience in no doubt that the key to a great film is not so much cash, as time, discipline and sheer hard work.
To bookend the day with a complete contrast, GMFF’s evening entertainment was the world premiere of festival-founder Simon Powell’s first feature film: Girl Shaped Love Drug. This event was equally inspiring, marking Powell’s journey from fitness instructor to film director (with a sure-fire winner of film to boot!) and founder of Manchester’s first feature film festival.
All in all, the day cutely pitched together two directors with completely different backgrounds and budgets, who were both using GMFF to spread the same message: get out there, get everyone involved and get filming!