INTERVIEW: Jon Gann | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North East film fans can get a taste of the short film genre at this weekend, alongside international filmmakers. A joint creative project between Sunderland and Washington DC, Sunderland Short Film Festival launches today at the University’s St Peter’s Campus, and features 16 short films from last year’s DC Shorts Festival.

I caught up with Jon Gann, Programme Director of the Festival and internationally renowned filmmaker to find out more about the event and short films in general. He’s coming to Sunderland to meet audiences and fellow filmmakers. I asked him how he got involved in the first place. “I switched from a design and marketing career to a career in film after realising that cinema is very similar to design – visual storytelling to sell an idea.” He chose short films for a variety of different reasons – the skill and creativity involved in telling a compelling, emotional tale in a few minutes, the ability to get to the heart of the subject matter and the speed/cost of making them to name but a few (he clearly is in love with the form). How many times have we sat through 90 minute feature films with only 10 minutes worth of story? (I’m sure many of us can identify with that). Story is massively important to short filmmakers, with many countries favouring certain themes such as family (Spain) and uncertainty (Russia).

dc shorts

If you’re a filmmaker, you get to connect with other filmmakers and get inspired, meet audiences and build a fan base

He’s influenced by legendary directors such as Groucho Marx, Almodovar, Spielberg and Billy Wilder, but also pays homage to the work of today’s emerging filmmakers, and freely admits that short filmmaking is not an easy path. Distribution is often a problem (he makes the point that uploading something to YouTube doesn’t guarantee connection with your audience). Why should people check out the Festival? “If you’re a filmmaker, you get to connect with other filmmakers and get inspired, meet audiences and build a fan base. If you’re a fan, expect exposure to many different stories in a ninety minute showcase of drama, comedy, animated, foreign and local short films which will take you on an emotional rollercoaster.” It’s also a chance to learn more about something other than blockbusters/feature films. His main hopes for the Festival? To raise awareness of the genre in the North East, inspire local filmmakers and entertain as well as broadening the world view of the community.

Film fans can attend screenings on January 9 from 9pm and January 10 at 7pm and 9.15 pm. There will be Q & A’s with directors after the screening for those interested in learning more about the genre.

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