It’s not just the monster that’s causing a stir in Loch Ness, in recent years the surrounding Highlands have hosted an ambitious and dynamic independent film festival, screening everything from local films to movies made on the other side of the world. Andrew Doig co-founded the Loch Ness Film Festival with his father William. Here he tells us how the festival started, some of the most memorable short films they’ve screened over the years and his own experience as a filmmaker participating in the Edinburgh Short Film Festival.
What were your aims when you started the Loch Ness Film Festival and what sets it apart from the many other film festivals out there?
We had it in mind to start the festival after seeing great shorts made on next to nothing budgets on YouTube and by screening them at the festival. What sets us apart is we usually like entertaining escapist films and comedy, we have never been impressed by the ‘arty depressed people staring at carpets’ narrative and the locations in Loch Ness help.
How do you make the most of the stunning location?
We were initially started off in an old fashioned community village hall up in Abriachan on the hills of Loch Ness. Then we used Craigmonie centre in the high school in Drumnadrochit which has a 200 seater theatre with projector and the backpacker’s lodge in Lewiston right next to Drumnadrochit, which has travellers and tourists coming in and out when we host the event end of July.
How would you say the Loch Ness Film Festival has evolved over the five years it’s been up and running?
It’s still run on a shoestring, although we have got regular sponsors and received funding last year from the co-op community fund to help out with equipment. With its help, we bought equipment to host a guerrilla filmmaking day in the quiet remote spot of Abriachan for children to make short, fun films.
You receive films from all over the globe – which has been the most obscure destination?
It is surprising when we get films from South America, Thailand and we are continuing to get more from across the globe since we registered with Festhome, an online platform for filmmakers to email their films to us online via their server.
You’re a filmmaker too, how do you think this influences how you select the films that are shown at Loch Ness?
I think the audience always responds well to comedy, it’s good to get a laugh or chuckle or two from the audience, also a good drama or horror is good, but I think anything to gory or arty-farty leaves the audience dissatisfied.
Are you working on anything just now?
It’s been a while as I’ve been busy in the real world, but am now working on a two-page comedy caper short film. It will be filmed in various venues and locations in Loch Ness over a few Sundays in March, the finished film will give you an ideal on how Loch Ness really operates.
You showed one of your films at the ESFF – when was this and what film did you screen?
I think it was 2011 at the Granary Pub in Leith, it was a sunny day and a great, busy atmosphere in the venue. The film was a sketch taken from the shep baker short films made between 2011 – 2012.
Have you got any interesting shorts lined up for 2014’s Loch Ness Film Festival?
A few have already caught my eye, usually submissions starts snowballing in March-April time. I was surprised by how many Scottish comedies we received last year and hopefully Scotland will continue being creative with its funny bone this year.
What’s one of the most memorable short films that Loch Ness has screened over the past five years?
Hard choice, I can give you two; one a comedy with a great script and performance made in Scotland called ‘Dear Mom’:
And the other being a horror by Matt Bloom called ‘Endless’: