This past week I had the pleasure of speaking with one of Brighton Soups past projects; Nuala O’Sullivan, founder of WOFFF – Women’s Over Fifty Film Festival, now in its second year. I wanted to find out how her experience with BrightonSoup had been and to learn a little more about her exciting Brighton Film Festival…
So tell me Nuala, how did you discover BrightonSoup?
I was introduced to London Soup by a friend of mine who knew I was starting up WOFFF, so I submitted an application even though I was pushing it; you know being a Brighton based film festival although I live in London. A year or so later I came across BrightonSoup and got in contact and it seemed like a much better fit and I got further than I did with the London application. I met Will and Karin and as soon as I did I thought “OK this is something I want to be involved with”.
I totally agree with you there, and what would you say inspired you to pitch?
Yes, again I have to put it back to Will and Karin; they made it clear that from the minute you get involved with BrightonSoup you’re one of the family. The biggest attraction to me was when they said you would get pitch training; because I think it’s really hard to sum up succinctly well and engagingly, what you’re about. I mean I certainly don’t have any trouble talking, I can talk the hind legs off a donkey and that’s fine sometimes, but other times less is more. So even when you imagine the worst case scenario where you make your pitch and you might not win on the night you still come away having had the training, so I could not see a downside.
Well quite, pitch training can be instrumental to a number of other opportunities right?
Yes exactly, and you know that’s the other thing; everything that happened at BrightonSoup was not contained within BrightonSoup. I mean its a life skill really; it’s all about connections.
“Once the soup comes out everyone starts talking and that’s when it gets really exciting”
What kind of connections did you make?
So we got tonnes of stuff; I mean we told a room full of people about our festival and got a lot of interest, people signed up to our monthly newsletter so now they’re part of our family, some even signed up as volunteers which we desperately needed.
And what about with the other projects; did you make any connections there?
You may remember our night was a very exciting night actually, as the overall donations pot was already sitting at around the £300 mark and then more and more kept getting added until we reached about £1,200 at the end. Ali from Free University Brighton had said, and I must stress this was before the results even got announced, that we should split the money four ways amongst all the projects. Lo and behold Free Uni Brighton came up and we had all said don’t be daft as we were already getting a share in £300 of that £1,200 total but she wouldn’t hear it. So in the end everybody that night got £300 which is kind of what everyone was wishing for. I mean I was happy already just with the pitch training, getting to speak to a room full of people and get those volunteers, but to walk away with £300 was truly amazing.
I think it really is wonderful, its got a sort of Dragons Den format but its really all about recognising your neighbours which we don’t do enough of.
Well yes, but that’s the thing, if it really was a Dragons Den I would get up, pitch and then somebody would ask me a few questions and then that would be the end of it. But the magical bit of this happens after that when you go round the room and talk to people; I mean the pitch can be a bit of a lecture situation but once the soup comes out everyone starts talking and that’s when it gets really exciting.
Its a very infectious atmosphere! Now I wanted to ask you more about WOFFF; I gather you have a festival coming up in October, can you tell us a little about that?
So Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd of October we’re going to be showcasing 44 short films, an all female panel event and a workshop all within the BMECP (Black and Minority Ethnic Community Partnership) building situated just 5 minutes from Brighton station, so really central. The 44 films were chosen from over 100 submissions and the premise of WOFFF is that each short film must either have a woman over 50 at the heart of the piece on screen; they must really be driving the action, or have a woman behind the camera in one of the core roles of writer, director or producer. So what that means is that its a really open medium; you as a young man could make a movie with a story centred around an older woman or indeed that older woman could make a documentary about you for example.
And what kind of submissions have you had?
These films have come from all around the world too from places as far away as New Zealand, Bangladesh, Canada, Hong Kong, Nigeria just to name a few, and we created four categories: drama, documentary, animation and experimental. So within those genres we have films about flying dinosaurs, films about dancing, topics like life after death and in one, some talking furniture.
I’m sure I’ve seen that one before… Certainly something for everyone! It really does emphasise the point I think you’re making here that its all about giving those women over 50 a chance.
Exactly, women over 50 in the film industry are really poorly represented and under appreciated as both film makers and film protagonists. The reason I started WOFFF was because I wrote a short film myself and entered it into a lot of film festivals before anyone took any notice of it. I had always had a keen interest in film festivals and after entering a piece I started to view them in a different light and noticed that a lot of the people who ran and entered these festivals were younger men; after doing a bit of digging I found that there was only one that actually focused on the work of older women, held in Japan. It’s called the Senior Women’s Film Festival. I got in contact with them and it turned out that the woman who run it was previously a student here at Brighton university, such a small world; so naturally we like to think of ourselves as sister festivals.
Wow, that’s amazing! Now I’m sorry to say but I have to wrap things up but I’d like to ask you one last question; if you could be any soup, what soup would you be?
I think I would be something like borscht; quite small and sturdy, hearty yes. Definitely borscht, haha.
An excellent choice; thank you Nuala.
They say that good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living, well I say it seems that a good BrightonSoup certainly makes all the difference.
Now if you want to attend the upcoming WOFFF festival on the 1st and 2nd of October details can be found at wofff.co.uk and tickets can be bought from billetto.co.uk/wofff. You can also follow them on twitter @WO50FF, FaceBook Instagram.
Of course the next BrightonSoup event is soon upon us coming this Friday on the 23rd of September at The Bridge in Moulscoomb! So see you there!
Well that’s all from me this entry, hope you;re having a great week everyone and don’t forget to stay hearty Brighton!
(Leek & Potato)