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15 November 2012

Interviewing Gemma Mitchell, Founder and Co-Director of Underwire Festival

We interviewed Gemma Mitchell from Underwire Festival, a celebration of shorts by women, which runs from 20 - 24 November.

Underwire festival british library

Can you tell us a little bit about Underwire Festival?

Underwire is the short film festival showcasing women working across the different crafts in filmmaking. We support talent with Best Director, Producer, Writer, Composer, Cinematographer, Editor, Actor and Sound Designer Awards each year, working closely with industry awards partners to create membership, mentoring and development strategies for our winners. We also produce the XX Award for films revealing more interesting female characters on screen.

Underwire creates a safe, supportive, ego-less environment for all attendees to share experiences, gain confidence and take pride in their achievements. We are not about creating a single experience, but a long term relationship with our Underwire community.

Feedback from winners includes:

“it’s so great that the awards at your festival not only gives a confidence boost for women wanting to work in film, but also helps them progress into an actual job in the creative industry!” - Victoria Wijeratne, Best Composer Underwire 2012

And from our patrons:

“Underwire will provide a much needed impetus to look at what new female voices in film can do. I’m really looking foward to watching the talent emerge.”Rebecca O’Brien, Producer, Sweet Sixteen, Looking for Eric

Why do you think it’s so important to champion and support women in film?

Film is a notoriously ego-driven industry and that's something a lot of women aren't very good at - having an ego. Therefore to showcase the outstanding female talent that's out there, especially in the more niche crafts, and provide a public space where we get to say 'your work is awesome' can make a big difference in the confidence of that talent to really go out and get 'em. We've had feedback from a number of our previous winners saying that with the confidence boost from screening at Underwire they've been able to really progress their career.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite female filmmakers?

Ooo - always a tough question! I'm a very big fan of Lynne Ramsay, of course Andrea Arnold and Joanna Hogg. New talent I am always staggered by the work that Ruth Paxton produces, and I think Deborah Haywood's films are stunning in their balance of dark and light.

The festival starts next week. Can you tell me about one or two of the things you’re really excited about?

I'm really looking forward to our Friday night with the LOCO Film Festival. After all the press of late around stand up comedy and it's opinion/representation of women, we're going to sock it to 'em with a stunning line-up of extremely funny women. It's a night of live and filmed comedy hosted by Cariad Lloyd. Featuring live comedy from Lou Sanders, Hils Barker, Briony Redman, Sonya Vine & Lady Garden and films by Alice Lowe & Jacqueline Wright, Becky Sloan, Louisa Fielden, Cariad Lloyd & the Blaine Brothers

And from our sessions I'm really looking forward to our Walking the Wire session on Saturday morning. It's a completely free mega marathon of a workshop providing practical and empowering information vital for women working in the creative and media industries. From how to do it to who’s doing it great, from having kids to finding a mentor, we’ll be covering it all. This is the careers shot in the arm we all need, from those just embarking on their professional journey to those finding themselves at a fork in the road. If I wasn't working the festival, I'd definitely have a seat booked for this session!

Lastly, how can people get more involved?

Visit www.underwirefestival.com and come down to the Ritzy, Brixton next week 20th - 24th November for the festival. Check out the website as well for our year round activities with Forums and Networking across the country. In the new year we'll be working with LOCO and the London Short Film Festival so definitely sign-up to the newsletter so we can keep in touch.

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