A Spotlight On Independent Cinema

Ross Hunter

It fills me with pride to say this – the Scottish film industry is in a period of growth. Large scale productions with global appeal are now finding Scotland an attractive place to come and tell their stories. Our talent is playing a part in the international film industry, our own productions have increased in quality, and the upcoming transformations mean that, if managed correctly, our film sector will only become stronger.
However, this recent renaissance is only possible due to the increase in availability of talented and skilled professionals; and we owe it to independent festivals such as Gary Hewitt’s ‘HB Film Festival’ to provide a platform for our brightest and best to showcase their work, grow opportunities and test their storytelling skills in front of an audience.
Recently IMDB Approved, The HB Film Festival was first developed in 2018 and is now in its fifth year at The Wynd Centre in Paisley. The festival doesn’t begin its judging process until after the final submission, unlike many other festivals. This gives every filmmaker a fair chance to win. Gary, a filmmaker himself and former UWS Ayr Filmmaking student, recognised a gap in Scotland for low/zero budget independent filmmakers in Scotland to showcase their work at a supportive, well organised festival that aimed to ‘initiate inspiring exchanges between filmmakers and professionals coming from different artistic disciplines’.
“This year we have the pleasure of screening over 80 short and feature films by indie filmmakers with incredible talent, and often with very limited budgets. We’re thrilled to be able to give them a platform to share that work with the world for the fifth year in Paisley. The feedback we receive from our guests gets better and better every year, and over the last few years we have screened a huge programme of films, even doubling our volume in 2021 to make up for a year off during the pandemic. This year will be no different – the incredible quality of the films that have been submitted means we’ve extended to four days to show as much as we possibly can! There is something to suit everyone. Whether you’re an avid movie fan or a budding filmmaker yourself, we hope you’ll come along and enjoy what we know will be an inspiring and fun-filled weekend.”
Gary leads a small but passionate team and creates a close-knit atmosphere amongst tech staff, front of house volunteers, judges and filmmakers, providing a platform for collaboration. During the pandemic, in conjunction with The Iris Ayr, one of the partners of the festival, Gary operated the festival online to ensure continuity in an uncertain climate. This continuity has led to a level of trust in the filmmaking community for the festival, meaning that the calibre of film that has entered the selection process continues to improve each year, with many of the films going on to be screened at prestigious festivals such as the Glasgow Short Film Festival. It is also encouraging to see many of the filmmaking talents screened at the HB Film Festival such as Harvey Gardener, Sarah Grant and Leyla Coll-O’Reilly develop their careers into funded work with large organisations such as Short Circuit and Screen Scotland.
Gary’s romantic vision of the independent Scottish film scene and commitment to elevating our talent shows no signs of slowing down, and it is paramount to support the people who are making positive changes at the beginning of a journey. A bright future depends on them.
HB FILM FESTIVAL: A Spotlight On Independent Cinema
The HB Film Festival runs from 5th to 8th of October. Tickets can be purchased from: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hb-film-festival-2023-tickets-692688147897