ORGANISERS of the Glasgow Film Festival have unveiled plans to further expand the event in future years - if they can win extra funding.
A significant cash boost is being sought ahead of next year’s 10th anniversary to help pay for even more events in a programme which has already mushroomed in recent years.
Despite now being second only in the UK to London’s film festival in terms of the number of events, the GFF is run off a budget of less than half a million pounds, a fraction of that enjoyed by other major European film festivals.
And it is also put together without the backing of a headline commercial sponsor, unlike a rival event in Dublin, which is also being held this month.
London-based film publicists have been hired for the first time to help raise the GFF’s exposure throughout the UK.
Advance ticket sales are said to be running ahead of last year, with one-offs like a “Calamity Jane Barn Dance”, a “secret screening” in part of the city’s underground network and cult director Joss Whedon’s new film Much Ado About Nothing among the hottest tickets.
Ahead of the opening gala of French romantic comedy Populaire at the Glasgow Film Theatre, the festival has outlined ambitious plans to attract bigger star names, hold more one-off events in major venues around the city, and boost the staffing of the event.
There is also said to be growing industry pressure for the GFF to instigate its first ever awards.
Co-director Allan Hunter said the festival still had unrealised potential, despite a huge growth in the number of events from 239 last year to more than 360. Audiences have risen from 6000 in the festival’s first year in 2005 to more than 35,000 last year.
However Mr Hunter said many big names were simply out of the event’s reach unless more backing could be secured from key funders like Creative Scotland and EventScotland.
“There is still a lot of potential there. The festival is still run by a very small team of people who really know each other and there is no-one actually working on the festival full-time.
“It is hard to know how big it could become. I have seen how events like Toronto have grown hugely over the years.
“The festival would need to find some money from somewhere though. Our entire budget is around half a million pounds but that takes into account a lot of in-kind support.
“It is swings and roundabouts if you have a big name commercial sponsor, there is sometimes lots of strings with that and you find you have to jump through a lot of hoops.
“If we had more money we could get more guests. There are people at the moment we just can’t afford. We are not that kind of festival, we just don’t have that kind of money.
“There are maybe bigger events that we could do in places like the Royal Concert Hall that would cost a lot of money, like a bit silent movie with an orchestra.
“We would also put more money into paying the people who work for the festival a bit better.
“Lots of them don’t get very well paid and work ridiculously long hours just out of passion, enthusiasm and commitment.”
Meanwhile Regis Roinsard, the first-time director whose debut Populaire was chosen to open the festival, said he was “very honoured” to be asked to the event.
He told The Scotsman: “It’s really cool that it’s being shown on Valentine’s Day.
“Normally in France, you would only go out for a meal, but I didn’t realise that seeing a film on Valentine’s Day is such a big film in the UK.
“I had heard all about the Glasgow Film Festival, it has a very good reputation in France, and I was very impressed when I saw the rest of the programme.”
The Glasgow Film Festival runs until 24 February.