An interview with James Mullighan, Festival Director – by Tony Burke
“I’ve been asked for my thoughts on Why Emerge At the Cork Film Festival? With pleasure” says James Mullighan.
A few gigs and more than a decade ago, when the hair was a little darker, I was the producer of the UK, Ireland and Australian toursof RESFEST, a global, travelling festival of short films, music videos and digital design – interstitials and such. It played Dublin twice, and Belfast once. We used to market it as ‘the digital revolution is coming!’ and, indeed, just prior to YouTube, it was the only way to see cutting edge work of the pioneers and rule breakers, those who were embracing new technologies to get their vision up on screen: Glazer, Gondry, July, Coppolla, Romanek, PES.
It has certainly well and truly arrived, that digital revolution. I have more processing power in my mobile device than NASA had for the Apollo 13 mission. And a Macbook Pro is a post production facility in your Crumpler. YouTube gave film festivals a fright, but we’re all still here; people love the collective experience of watching movies nice and big and loud and together. And now, thanks to a web which builds itself around you and your wants, you can not only make films simply, easily and cheaply, but you can communicate directly one to one with your audience, even build yourself a platoon of superfans who will help you with your marketing before you shoot a frame.
This we all know, and it has become part of every visual artist’s quotidien practice. What is new, now? What are artists going to be creating tomorrow, with digital?
These two questions are the cornerstone of EMERGE, the part show part conference birthed by producer and transmedia artist Christopher Smith for the 2013 East End Film Festival (London) and which had its first Irish outing in Cork during the 58th Festival, November 2013.
Now, it does not address: How do I run a crowdfunding campaign, or Should I put my film online before sending it to Festivals – both important ‘digital’ questions. No: you need to go to Fund (12 Nov) and Incubate (15 Nov) during the Festival for questions like that.
Rather, it explores the work of artists and professionals for whom the concepts of image making and digital has pretty much merged into one toolkit. EMERGE tantalises us curious types by positing: Digital innovations are driving every industry, not least the creative industry and indeed shaping generations.
And so: How can big data be turned into info, or entertainment? We’ll give CEO and co-founder of global insight agency Protein that one. Or: How can the web generate source material for documentary films (Christopher’s Cumulus project about Imogen Heap will explore that). NYC’s Brian Newman will give a keynote on using the web to build audiences as an independent producer, and what are the innovative trends in such practice.
It’s a rich line up: Well also welcome John Boyle (Head of Digital at Fleishman Hillard); Vida Toombs, VICE; Darragh O’Connell of the mammoth Brown Bag Films (happy birthday!); and several more.
And we’ll do this every year. As technological innovation mushrooms, and more and more of us make movies, the nexus of digital and film will always be a rich seam to mine. Visit http://www.corkfilmfest.org/2014/festival-events/emerge-2/ for booking details.
James Mullighan, Festival Director. November 2014.