Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival: What the 2015 edition holds in store

Posted on 23 February 2015
By Mark Langshaw
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Highlighting the dead-eyed superficiality of Hollywood is a little cliche, but there’s something comparatively liberating about the craft and fruits of independent cinema.

Liverpool is a hotbed of grassroots creativity where interest in filmmaking continues to flourish; so it seems only fitting that we have our own independent film festival for showcasing fresh talent and treating the local audience to new experiences.

Non-profit operation Lift-Off has been organising these kind of events around the world for half a decade. London was first on its UK agenda, but Liverpool soon flashed up on the radar as quality submissions from the North of England flooded in.

The Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival was created in 2013 as a vehicle for promoting independent film in this neck of the woods, and it’s returning for a much anticipated third year in the second week of March.

“In our first year our festival was based in London. During the submissions process we received lots of films from the south of England, and a few from the north. What we found was that when we did receive a film from the north of England the quality was very high,” Lift-Off founder James Bradley told Purple Revolver.

“Our ratio of submission to screen was practically 70% from the north of England and 100% from Liverpool.

“It was during the festival in London that we came up with the idea to expand to Liverpool, we noticed that there wasn’t anything like us in the city – so we wanted to draw out the real filmmaking artists that lived in the city and surrounding areas. We didn’t fail.”

In some respects, the film industry would be a better place without mammoth budgets, parasitic agents and Hollywood Prima Donnas, and none of the above are welcome at Liverpool Lift-Off.

It’s tough working in any artistic discipline under the current government, particularly in the North West where budget cuts are stringent, but the festival aims to lend a helping hand to budding directors, writers and actors who are feeling the pinch with its focus on low-resourced filmmakers.

“Liverpool and Northern based filmmakers and artists have found it tough under this new government. The cuts to the arts have created a real trap within the industry,” said Bradley.

“Festivals outside of ours are focusing heavily on technology, fancy looks, sexy grades, the pressure on a filmmaker to prioritise tech over talent is massive. We don’t think any other festival our size or larger wants to cater for the low-resourced filmmaker – but we do.”

Liverpool Lift-Off attendees will be treated to a diverse programme spanning animation, live-action film, script readings, documentaries, music videos, and more, and this year’s edition will include an awards night for the first time.

Winners will be chosen based on an audience voting system and awarded with trophies, but there are potential rewards on offer for anyone who submits work since it will be seen by personnel from Great Guns, a global production company that is always looking to expand its roster of talent.

There have been success stories in the past, with 2014 season winner Calum Macdiarmid securing a deal with a Los Angeles-based agent and the opportunity to work stateside after the Lift-Off organisers penned a letter of recommendation for him.

“We give our filmmakers who submit exclusive content, we offer extended feedback options and if you are selected we act as your PR representative prior to your screening and a few months after, getting our filmmakers interviews and exposure,” Bradley explained.

“We have a working connection with the global production company Great Guns who are on the look out for talent and who have committed to allow us to be their talent scout.

“Our reason for existing is not to be flash, have a red carpet, screen star names or become the next Cannes. We want to build the filmmaker’s professional life.”

This year’s festival will be held at Fredricks Bar and Screen on Hope Street, with the awards night taking place at the Plaza Community Cinema in Crosby, a community-run venue that’s vey much in keeping with the event’s ideals.

Lift-Off holds festivals in London, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Amsterdam, but our great city has embraced the event more than its grandiose counterparts and attracted the largest audiences.

“It’s always amazing in Liverpool. Our Liverpool filmmakers get it. They come along fuel the vibe, network and discuss their future plans more so than anywhere else,” said Bradley.

“We have festivals based in London, Vegas, LA, Tokyo and Amsterdam, and so far Liverpool has been the most welcoming and best attended.”

The Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival takes place between 12th and 14th March. Information about tickets and scheduling can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/lybagrx