Raindance film festival makes debut Edinburgh visit

Whoops! is one of the Raindance films set for an Edinburgh showing. Picture: Contributed
Whoops! is one of the Raindance films set for an Edinburgh showing. Picture: Contributed
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LONDON’S Raindance Film Festival has carved out a niche as the UK’s foremost showcase for indie filmmaking talent. Having celebrated its 21st anniversary last year, it’s now bringing its wares to Scotland (and elsewhere in the UK) for the first time

The festival visits Edinburgh with a series of two-day mini festivals incorporating screenings, talks, a 48-hour filmmaking challenge and a training course entitled The 99 Minute Film School – all designed to provide budding Christopher Nolans and Edgar Wrights with an insight into how achievable a film career can be.

“The whole point of our courses, including The 99 Minute Film School,” says Raindance founder Elliot Grove, “is that the film industry has a lot of dirty little secrets – and one of those secrets is that they don’t like newcomers. So what they do is mystify the whole business. But there’s nothing that’s difficult about filmmaking. It’s just bloody hard work. And when you realise that and you understand some of these dirty little secrets, you can go – as Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan did – from A to B by working your butt off and have much better chance of success.”

The references to Wright and Nolan, the respective directors of Hot Fuzz and The Dark Knight trilogy, aren’t fanciful. “Edgar was my first intern,” says Grove. “Then he went off and did his first film, A Fistful of Fingers, which I helped him raise a bit of money for.” Nolan, meanwhile, contacted Grove while he was making shorts as a student in London. “When he graduated he got a job stacking shelves at Boots in Piccadilly and every weekend would borrow a camera and use my office in Soho to store it while he made Following. He did that for nine months.” The film had its European premiere at Raindance in 1998 and the rest, says Grove, is history.

That DIY perseverance in the face of initial industry hostility is at the heart of indie filmmaking, so the irony isn’t lost on Grove that when he was establishing Raindance he met resistance from Robert Redford, whose Sundance Film Festival was already renowned as the premiere showcase for independent film. “The phone rang one afternoon and it was Robert Redford himself,” recalls Grove. “He was yelling, ‘Why did you steal the name Raindance?’ So I spent a few minutes trying to convince him that it rains in London and the dance is the dance you need to do to make your film. And then the phone went dead...”

• Raindance Film Festival on Tour is at the Edinburgh Vue Omni Centre tomorrow and Monday. www.raindancefestival.org/tour