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MetFilm School Masterclass with Iris Prize Festival Founder Berwyn Rowlands
Last week, MetFilm School London, proudly hosted a Masterclass with Berwyn Rowlands, Film Producer and Founder/CEO of The Iris Prize Festival – a prestigious £30,000 award presented at a six-day festival championing and celebrating LGBTQ+ film, hosted annually in Cardiff, Wales.
Hosted by Rasheed Bailey, from our Admissions Team, who had a chance meeting with Berwyn when attending the festival in October 2018, and used this opportunity to invite him to The School. The pair discuss the prize, the current LGBTQ+ film scene, and advice for future filmmakers.
ON THE IRIS PRIZE
The Iris Prize, established in 2006, is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival, an achievement Berwyn is incredibly proud of. “Iris grew very quickly and we didn’t know how fast it was growing – we had 1500 submissions in the first year, but 10,000 in 2018,” he remarks.
“I think that’s down to two things. Firstly, it’s the gay thing. Really, It’s like the mafia, there is a global gay network. The second is that social media at the time was just right. It was ready for us to use it to reach people who were creating content.”
To date, 10 short films have been made using the prize money, with the 11thin production.
ON THE LGBTQ+ FILM SCENE
Berwyn believes this industry is making changes and welcomes this long overdue positive step. “I’m excited by the way things are changing. I can remember a time when people genuinely believed only lesbians should make lesbian films.”
LGBTQ+ labels are transitional and Iris strives to be a reflection of that. “With us, it’s film first, gay second. Maybe other LGBTQ+ festivals are the other way around. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but at least three of our winners have not identified as LGBTQ, which I love because it’s about storytelling.”
FOR UPCOMING FILMMAKERS
“If you bounce out of college and hear no for the first time, it’s going to hit you like a brick wall. You really need someone who can tell you no.”
Berwyn imparts that it’s important to question yourself and do the hard work. “Ask yourself who your film is for and the answer shouldn’t be everyone. You need to be authentic, you need research. That’s true of any film.”
Submissions for the Iris Prize 2019 are now open.