A Student Filmmaker’s Paradise: DU Film Festival

Trinity’s very first DU Film Festival ran a range of events throughout the week, fostering relationships between young Irish filmmakers.

This week saw Trinity’s inaugural student film festival, DU Film Festival (DUFF), fully embracing their slogan of ‘by students, for students’. Ran in and around Trinity campus by DU Film Society, it was the first festival of it’s kind and offered students from all around Dublin and the country a unique and rare opportunity.

An indisputable success, the week featured events ranging from speed-networking to various talks from established speakers as well as screenings of student produced films which were all nominated for awards in various categories.

Susannah Hunt, DUFF organiser and Exhibitions officer for DU Film, has succeeded in her goal  to “equip up and coming filmmakers with the tools they need to make the most of opportunities presented at other, bigger festivals in the future.” Speaking on why she felt such a festival was important both to Trinity and students from other colleges, she commented that “Ireland is a small country with an even smaller film industry. It makes sense to bring the filmmakers of tomorrow together sooner rather than later.”

Not only was educating students on how to maximise a festival experience the primary focus of many of the  festival’s guest speakers, but it was a constant thread throughout all of the various events. Mick Hannigan of the Indie Cork Festival brought along various material which they use to promote their festival and discussed how to promote your film and any upcoming ideas that you may have whilst speaking in Chaplins on Tuesday afternoon. This focus on preparing for festivals was mirrored in the talk on ‘How to Market Your Film’ given by Allison Wheeland, Chairperson of DU Film,  in Áras an Phiarsaigh on Thursday evening.

Both speakers addressed the issue of figuring out which festivals to apply  to, with Wheeland encouraging planning and restraint, rather than becoming carried away when you receive numerous emails from film platforms which you will inevitably have to register your film on. Her talk drew from experience of society members who have been to Cannes alongside various other festivals and made the process seem a lot less daunting and approachable than it would initially seem.

Hannigan and Wheeland also spoke on the matter of networking, a topic which many young and beginner filmmakers tend to forget about. They encouraged students to consider various points when networking encompassing upcoming projects, having solid ideas that are available to produce to investors and people who are interested such as postcard profiles or USB keys and doing your research before you go so you know how to find people and how to best promote yourself.

Tying into this idea of equipping student filmmakers representatives of the Fastnet Film Festival in Cork spoke about what they specifically looked for in films, echoing what Hannigan had touched on the day before when discussing how he selected films when programming the Indie Cork festival.

All these events whilst invaluable to the everyday filmmaker were an asset to Trinity and have pushed DU Film forward as a benchmark for student festivals as they have successfully managed to cover many areas in which students have an interest in over a very short space of time.

Whilst educating, the festival also managed to succeed in terms of its intentions “to foster relationships between young Irish filmmakers with a view to potential cross-college collaboration on film projects in the future” according to Hunt. The speed-networking event on Monday encouraged all in attendance to engage with people from other campuses, solidifying Trinity as a college in which collaboration and creative ideas are encouraged and developed. As she stated, “students from all over the country have come along to the festival this week.” This has improved our image on a national level in relation to film and has attracted interest from not just students, but professionals in the industry also.

On a college level, DUFF has sparked a louder conversation about film in Trinity. Students can be seen engaging with events that would not have been previously offered to them from Trinity or elsewhere, with the fact that they are on campus enabling students to take their first steps into the film industry without having to go to intimidating efforts.
I personally have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of DUFF 2017, regarding it as an incredible experience which has taught me more than I expected from the festival. The committee has done a visibly wonderful job and I am excited to see what lies in store for DUFF 2018.

Laura Beston

Laura Beston is the current President of Trinity's Students' Union, and a former Deputy Sports Editor of Trinity News.