Substance Film Festival: Discover the Panellists

Substance Film Festival kicks off the debate on industry, innovation and change this December with a series of short films exploring the northern landscape.

Each film offers a personal perspective against the ever-evolving backdrop of the north. Is place physical or abstract? How do your personal experiences help define a location? These ideas, and more, are all set to be investigated.

The four nights, Award-Winning Films, Place Is A State Of Mind, Human Stories and Complex Relationships, address different themes, and every night offers a hosted Q&A session with a filmmaker. From the tale of a composer walking from Sheffield to Grimethorpe armed only with a tuba to striking site-specific light projections in Public Service Broadcasting’s music video Night Mail, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. Why not join the conversation?

Award-Winning Film

Robert Hackett, director and producer of Night Mail.

On the film festival’s opening night we’re joined by Robert Hackett, director and producer of Night Mail, a music video for band Public Service Broadcasting. Drawing on archive footage, (much like the artists), this short film uses visuals with real ingenuity, making use of its location. This film won best music promo at Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2014.

Accolades for Robert’s other work include Best Short Film at both the Staten Island and Central Florida Film Festivals and Best Script at the Malta Short Film Festival.

Place Is A State Of Mind

Ismar Badzic, director of A Long Walk To Grimethorpe.

Sheffield-based filmmaker and photographer Ismar Badzic joins us to explain how place is a state of mind. His film A Long Walk to Grimethorpe charts the physical and creative journey of Joe Snape as he hikes 20 miles for a Grimethorpe Colliery Band (made famous by Brassed Off) rehearsal.

The film considers the relationship between sound and place, tradition and innovation. The tuba Joe walks with is fitted with a number of microphones, each recording a subtly different sound – these recordings document the journey in a wholly unusual way.

A recent graduate with an MA in Screen Documentary, Ismar often draws on his own childhood experiences as a refugee to create passionate narrative-led documentaries.

Human Stories

Hannah Pike, director, writer and producer of Hit and Run.

Pitched as “If Tennents Super did Pretty Woman. In Stockport” Hannah Pike’s film Hit & Run has been causing a stir on the independent film circuit, taking home the award for Best Short Film at London Independent Film Festival 2017. Filmed and produced on just £7500, this dark comedy tells the tale of a suicidal alcoholic’s encounter with a hardy prostitute. This is northern-ness on film; Stockport, Northern Soul and survival through humour all set the tone.

An alumnus of the University of Hull, Hannah returns to the city to discuss what’s so different about northern storytelling.

Complex Relationships

The final night of the film festival closes with a bumper sized panel discussion, as each of the four filmmakers showing films on the night Expect discussion on the complex dynamics of family relationships and an exploration of how the intricacies of domestic life can underpin identity.

Chris Shepherd, writer and director of The Ringer.

Semi-autobiographical The Ringer sees a son reunited with his long-lost father – but this short film doesn’t unfold like you might think. Though the film opens with live footage realism, it quickly transforms into drawn and computer animation, combining to create powerful storytelling that mixes comedy and drama.

Chris has also produced and directed for household names like Channel 4 and collaborated with artist and illustrator David Shrigley too. BAFTA nominated, his accolades include Best Film at the British Animation Awards for the acclaimed Dad’s Dad, plus an abundance of international film festival wins.

See what Chris has to say on The Ringer.

Harry Sherriff, writer and director of Hits Like A Girl.

A coming-of-age tale rooted in the north, Hits Like A Girl follows Kay McKenna, a 19-year-old boxer from Toxteth with a serious anger problem and a fractious relationship with her mother. Negotiating the extremes of adrenaline-inducing fight and tender, intimate interactions, the film captivates.

The film forms part of iShorts, a project designed to help filmmakers outside of London. Harry cites filmmakers like Shane Meadows (This Is England) and Lynne Ramsey (We Need To Talk About Kevin) as influences. A graduate off the Young Writers’ Programme at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, he has developed the web series Early Days whilst undertaking a residency at arts organisation Metal.

See what Harry has to say on Hits Like A Girl here.

Ruth Grimberg, director of Some Will Forget.

Ruth Grimberg is a photographer and filmmaker, and her films have been screened across festivals in the UK, Europe and the USA. Specialising in documentary film-making she has developed her work from early journalism photography and oral history projects before transitioning into film.

Some Will Forget is a heart-rending depiction of a South Yorkshire village, where one of Britain’s last coal mines, Hatfield Colliery, stands at its heart. As the mine faces closure due to cheaper imports, this short explores the lives of those holding on.

Ashley Dean, director of Let It Go (Fossil Collective).

A miniature stop-motion epic, this short film made for band Fossil Collective’s song Let It Go tells a tale of tragedy, hope and determination, inspired by Minecraft and BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. The world of the film is made entirely of paper and exquisitely detailed.

The film was devised and produced in Leeds, where Ashley Dean studied Graphic Arts and Design at Leeds Beckett University. He has worked as a digital artist, pairing animation with live music and won the 2012 Royal Television Award for Playful and Passionate, a commission undertaken for Opera North.

Substance Film Festival takes place 1 – 5 December at Vue Cinema Hull. Book a festival pass now for only £10 and get access to all four nights of film.