Interview With Raindance Berlin

Last September, the Raindance Film Festival in London returned with 100 features and over 150 short films. In its 23rd year, Raindance continued to showcase independent, new and alternative films from around the world, and supported exciting new filmmakers.

We spoke to Elliot Grove, the festival’s founder, and Amanda Clark of the Raindance team to find out more about the festival’s ethos, history, and the Saturday Film School, run by Elliot himself, which will took place in Berlin on the 29th of August.

Christina: How would you describe the character of Raindance Film Festival?

Elliot: Raindance Film Festival screens films from all over the world. We focus on debut films by feature filmmakers, documentarians and web content creators.

Form the many submissions we receive we screen films if the fall into 2 of the 3 following categories:

1) Extreme topics

2) Extreme filmmaking techniques

3) Extremely entertaining

Christina: Can you tell us a bit about the history and founding of Raindance?

Elliot: I started Raindance in 1992 as a thought experiment: Can you make a movie with no experience (I had none) with no film school training (I had none) and no money (I was flat broke)?

Over the 20+ years, I have sort of proved that it is possible. My first intern was Edgar Wright, and a year or two later I met another self-taught filmmaker, Christopher Nolan. They have both done rather well.

Christina: Raindance also offers courses and workshops, what makes them unique and why do you think they are important?

Elliot: I have developed a unique and revolutionary film education programme that is, I’m told, unlike anything else in the world. I developed it based on what I wanted to know next. Our courses are fast, information packed and inexpensive. However, if you are reading this and want to learn filmmaking, don’t come here. There is a very important difference between Raindance and normal film schools. At Raindance we don’t teach filmmaking. At Raindance we make filmmakers.

Amanda: Yes, as Elliot says, our courses are designed to be information-packed and interactive so that participants achieve their own specific learning goals, whether that’s finishing off a script or learning how to finance their movie. Having searched for filmmaking courses in Berlin myself, I know first-hand that it’s difficult to find this sort of intensive training at an affordable rate in English. All of our courses are taught by filmmakers and industry professionals who are experienced teachers, and all of the classes take place on evenings or weekends to suit the participants’ work schedules. Elliot is coming to Berlin to teach his legendary Saturday Film School on the 29th of August and after that he’ll teach the first week of our Producers’ Foundation Certificate course, so I’m looking forward to those!

Christina: In what ways does Raindance festival support independent filmmakers?

Elliot: Most Raindance Festival filmmakers are attending a festival for the first time. Our goal is to show them how to handle some of the craft of publicity: how to do interviews, handle press boards and how to craft a tantalizing press kit.

Amanda: Also, our monthly Boozin’ N Schmoozin’ networking events in Berlin are a great way for independent filmmakers – and anyone interested in filmmaking for that matter – to get together. Independent filmmakers can meet likeminded people, discuss projects and find someone to collaborate with.

Christina: How would you describe the role of film festivals, both in the film industry and as a cultural event?

Elliot: A filmmaker with a new film needs to get it seen. The role of a filmmaker and festival are very different. The role of a festival is to deliver to the filmmaker a room full of people to appreciate their work. Hopefully one of them has a cheque book. The role of  filmmaker is to deliver an entertaining film.

Festivals such as Raindance are the way that industry executives, i.e. distributors ‘discover’ new talent. And what does ‘discovered’ mean? It means that a distributor or financier has given a filmmaker a cheque.

Christina: What are some of the current challenges facing film festivals, and how is Raindance adapting?

Elliot: The current challenge of any festival is to find their own unique voice and to attract an audience. Raindance, I suppose, has been morphing and adapting every year since 1993. Our great challenge is to develop an online and social media strategy. I have been told that we are one of the very best at this. But I still see lots of room for improvement.

Christina: What can we expect from this years festival?

Elliot: We are screening a plethora of extremely great movies form over 50 countries. Please check out our website at www.raindancefestival.org

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You can find out more about the Berlin Saturday Film School with Elliot Grove here: http://www.raindance.org/berlin/course/saturday-film-school/

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