The FANS Youth Team on their Festival experience

FANS Youth Film Festival is Scotland’s own Youth Film Festival, designed and delivered by young people, for young people. The second ever edition takes place this weekend at Summherhall in Edinburgh, and its theme is DIY Filmmaking.

You can check out the full programme, which is kicked off this evening by a screening of That Sinking Feeling, and a special visit from Director, Bill Forsyth, here: https://filmaccess.scot/festival/festival-programme/festival-events/.

Ahead of this year’s events, we caught up with two members of last year’s FANS Youth Team – the group who make the Festival happen - and heard about what they took away from the experience.

Siobhan Moffat is a 22-year-old Filmmaker from Edinburgh who has been passionate about the arts from a young age. As part of the FANS Youth Team, Siobhan worked on organising events, marketing, scheduling, and judging and programming over 80 film submissions. Throughout the Festival she hosted and facilitated panel discussions and workshops.

Kaitlyn Roper is a 21-year-old Filmmaker from Tweedsmuir in the Scottish Borders, currently living and studying in Edinburgh. Kaitlyn’s role in the FANS Youth Team last year involved administrative work - creating a film scoring system and emails - in addition to making important decisions about marketing and events throughout the programme.

What were your highlights from last year’s programme?

Siobhan: “I was particularly proud of the panel session I hosted that featured the director, writer and producer of Anna and the Apocalypse, because it got great feedback from the audience and provided me with a professional contact in each of them.”

Kaitlyn also hosted the Anna and the Apocalypse panel, saying it was “amazing.”

“They were incredibly lovely and happy to talk with people attending the festival and give advice.”

Regarding the whole Festival, Kaitlyn said,

“It was awesome to see an example of a current, successful independent Scottish grown film doing well for itself. Also, just being around the festival attendees and talking about their own projects and getting to know why people had attended was amazing and very gratifying for all the hard work we put in.”

What did you gain from the experience?

Siobhan: “I learned a lot about networking and how to sell myself as an individual, which has been incredibly valuable to my journey into the industry. I gained a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities as a Filmmaker as well.”

Kaitlyn: “Being a part of a process of creating a Film Festival and developing it from the ground up as part of a random group of young creatives from across Scotland was probably one of the craziest ideas that you could put out there.

“Going into it without a clue of how you were going to do this, to sitting in the festival surrounded by young creatives enjoying themselves was a huge victory and an incredibly rewarding thing. Throughout the entire process the youth team were leading it, always the ones discussing options and making the final decisions while the FANS teams facilitated us and guided it.

“It was amazing to be put in a position of such power as it gave us a lot of confidence in ourselves, to be able to make decisions and stick to them and be seen as peers amongst those overseeing us who valued those opinions and decisions.”

"It has been one of the best experiences of my life"

“I did things that I never thought I could do and got to be part of an incredible team of hard-working and passionate young people who I now consider to be some of my closest friends. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I was given because it has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Siobhan Moffat
Member of the 2018 FANS Youth Team

What kind of opportunities did the experience help open you up to?

Siobhan: “I got the opportunity to come back this year and mentor, assist and volunteer with the festival, which is amazing. It's incredible to see the new youth team making the decisions and building on top of what we did last year and making it even bigger and better.”

Kaitlyn: “Throughout last year’s festival process I was studying film at university, and am currently in my third year, but skills gained through the festival process I have used on non-university project, such as producing independent short films and helping to run a screening night called Write Shoot Cut in Edinburgh.

“I have started working freelance jobs on the side and made my first ever wage as a freelance filmmaker which is something I have looked forward to for years.”

Do you have hopes to work in the film industry?

Siobhan: “I am currently undecided in which area of the industry I want to go in to but I hope to study film further at university, and I am keen to figure out where my strengths lie and learn more about the areas I can improve on. I am particularly interested in writing so considered possibly pursuing a career in creative journalism, writing about all forms of art including film.”

Kaitlyn: “In the not so distant future, I do hope to graduate from university and go into working in film or TV, hopefully starting as a Production Assistant or Art Assistant and working my way up. My end goal is working as a production designer, or head of art department, but I would love to continue producing smaller projects on the side.”

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s programme?

Siobhan: “I'm really looking forward to the Mental Health strand. I think it's such an important topic and the way it's being handled is very professional. I think a lot of people will benefit and learn from it and hopefully get more people talking about mental health.”

Kaitlyn: “This year’s programme looks amazing and I was very honoured to do some work for and talk with the youth team, giving advice and feedback on their proposals. I am really interested in the activist filmmaking panels, about diversity and access and also the climate crisis as it highlights a lot of what young people are fighting against currently.

“I am especially delighted to be returning not only as an alumnus but as a featured Filmmaker and Panellist on the ‘Producers Perspective’ panel – which I am both terrified and excited for.”

What was it like to work in the FANS Youth Team?

Siobhan: “I did things that I never thought I could do and got to be part of an incredible team of hard-working and passionate young people who I now consider to be some of my closest friends. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I was given because it has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Kaitlyn: “Working on the youth team was incredibly mental, starting as a group of random people from across Scotland, who’s only similarity was being a fan of films (and an off-brand version of Jenga) to pulling together a film festival over the course of a year was insane. Everyone put in a lot of hard work and worked to their strengths in the areas they liked most.

“We were always respectful of one another’s opinions, and always kept the focus of the festival on young people and developing their skills as creatives, while being young creatives ourselves. Throughout the process there was always a sense of ‘I don’t know how we are going to do this’ so coming to the end and being in the festival, there was both a lot of relief but an even greater sense of, ‘I can’t believe we did this."

Why is it so important to have a Youth Film Festival?

Siobhan: “I think it's important because it creates a platform for blossoming talent to show their work, helping young people gain opportunities to make their way into the industry and hopefully inspire and encourage more people to pursue careers in filmmaking.”

Kaitlyn: “Films are visual stories that encapsulate worlds from the unique viewpoint of their creator, and in a time where young people have their voices taken away or ignored by people in charge it is so important to hear their stories. Young people harbour so much creativity and passion that when honed can create masterpieces, by seeing their stories told we gain a better understanding of their world and the world around us.

“Seeing a greater diversity of ages, ethnicities, genders, abilities, and upbringings is very powerful for those who are not often represented, or do not often have their stories told. But also, it creates a gateway for others to gain understanding of their world view, the challenges they face and how they conquer them. Young people are the future and deserve to have their voices heard, and there’s no better way to do that than through stories.”

More information

You can keep up to date with Kaitlyn’s work via her website, Twitter and Instagram, and with Siobhan’s projects on her YouTube channel.

More about FANS Youth Film Festival

FANS Youth Film Festival is a Film Access Scotland initiative which aims to transform people’s lives through access to film. The Festival is funded through Screen Scotland’s Film Education Fund.

Find out more about FANS Youth Film Festival and see the full programme at https://filmaccess.scot/festival/.