Glasgow’s first “Greenlight Night” at GMAC

Published

Adam Nicholson
Deputy Culture Editor – Film & TV

Last month saw the first “Greenlight Night” at GMAC (Glasgow Media Access Centre located in Trongate 103), hosted by Young Filmmakers Glasgow. The premise of the night was an intriguing one: four filmmakers pitch their ideas and the winner gets the money raised by the ticket sales to produce their short film.

For your decidedly unusual ticket price of £4.84, you gained admission to the screening room in the top floor where the event was held, could claim either a glass of punch or a small glass of beer (soft drinks also available), and a single vote in the night’s proceedings. Encouragingly, the event sold out, with a suitable mix of young people (uni students and high schoolers alike) as well as more seasoned filmmakers (with thinning salt and pepper hair). With the scene set, sat among the hot throng of eager participants, with a lukewarm sliver of Innis & Gunn in a plastic cup, the event began.

Young Filmmakers Glasgow took the helm, beginning the proceeds with their own short film and a little plug for their society. They then introduced a panel of experts to help structure the night and the critiques of each pitch. The four industry professionals on the panel were Helen Wright (Scottish Queer International Film Festival), Kim MacAskill (BBC Comedy), David Tennant (erstwhile of Doctor Who, and Broadchurch), and Anuree de Silva (Editorial Department: Trainspotting, Caravaggio). After each pitch, the panelists would give their opinions, ask questions, and proffer advice. Following the preliminaries, the pitches commenced in earnest.

A great deal of variety was on offer, from comedy to horror. The pitchers took the floor, one after the other. First, Fry Up Fury by David O. Gray, a story of a boy seeking a roll and sausage for his hungover father in the style of 1970s kung fu pictures; followed by On the Fritz, presented by
Savannah Morgan, a romance with artificial intelligence; then First by Marty Fletcher, which begins a romantic comedy and finishes as slasher horror; and finally, Fertility Daze by partners Daiva Ivanauskaite and Andrew Gunn, which told of the attempt of a young couple to get pregnant presented in the style of early silent cinema. That final piece left the evening with the cash, triumphant before a jury of peers.

The pitches would end with questions from the audience and this presented one of the few more distasteful elements of an otherwise pleasant evening. There was an air of slight condescension, a sense that members of the audience felt they had more experience, more talent even, than the filmmakers themselves. Another irksome feature of the night was the misrepresentation of the voting rights; the majority of the vote share was attributed to the panelists, so that their votes were worth more than the audiences. While this may not be a major issue to some, the disenfranchisement of the paying audience did feel odd – one felt, for a moment, cheated.

On the whole, however, the experiment was a successful one. A film is to be produced, Fertility Daze, which we hope to keep you updated on in the coming months; following the trial of Glasgow’s first such cinema orientated crowd-funding evening to its conclusion. That such opportunities for Glasgow-based filmmakers to receive funding will become more frequent is incredibly positive and will doubtless lead to great things for the city’s film community.