In Conversation with James Bradley on the London Lift-Off Film Festival
Look beyond the gloss, put talent before technology – that is the motto for the upcoming London Lift-Off Film Festival, which aims to expose audiences to the beauty of independent cinema.
In the four years since its creation, The Lift-Off Film Festival has grown from a local event into a global exhibition of independent films across 6 international cities: London, Liverpool, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Tokyo.
This year-long celebration of films, by amateur and professional filmmakers alike, comes to a close in the heart of London this December. 23 short films will be showcased over 3 days, alongside a one day workshop and the festival’s awards show.
For James Bradley, the co-founder of the festival, the event’s main goal is to support talented filmmakers whose limited resources restrict their ability to make their debut. He said:
“We call it the lift-off festival because we are looking to launch people’s careers from the very beginning,”
“We’re all about filmmakers developing their career, building their confidence and ultimately getting themselves agents, getting out there and getting themselves work that is paying them.”
To those at the festival, it is not the technology that shapes a film but an individual’s artistic talent. Bradley said:
“We don’t care if it was made on a VHS camcorder from 1988, we know that if the story structure is right then the film will fly,”
“We look at the films that have absolute heart, and absolute grounding in artistic merit – films that have brilliant storytelling, fantastic acting and all the things that cost nothing to get right.”
Not only does the festival help to bring to light films that may otherwise struggle for distribution, but it also uses methods to help filmmakers make a name for themselves in the industry:
“We have agents and companies that look at the films that win at the festival. One agency, a global film production company, wants to look at the films that win at London Lift-Off this year,”
“This will be taking our film directors onto the next level.”
Alongside these networking opportunities, the festival will give entrants exclusive feedback on their work from industry professionals, advising them on the merits and downfalls of the film, as well as information on other film festivals they should submit to. This content, according to Bradley, will help the filmmakers learn how an independent film becomes successful.
The films that win at the festival’s awards show will also be screened at the other festivals as part of the Lift-Off Official Selection Network, giving filmmakers a wider-reaching, and more diverse, audience to view their film.
The film festival’s initiative is to change the independent film industry:
“This festival is something we started because we want to support the industry. We want to change it and we want to make sure that artists like the Christopher Nolan’s and Darren Aronofsky’s of this world get more and more opportunities,”
“There are fantastic filmmakers out there with hardly any money or opportunities that are making fantastic work.”
Of course, Bradley does not want the festival to stop there. He said:
“We want to become a mini industry within the industry, and we want to be a literal global distribution channel for filmmakers who are absolutely excellent at what they do.”
The London Lift-Off Film Festival takes place from December 1 to 6. More information on the festival’s shortlist and on booking tickets can be viewed here.
Written by Roxy Simons.