Did you come to the festival? Did you work at Branchage? Did you perform at Branchage? Did you make a friend at Branchage? Did Branchage help your career? Did Branchage impact your life as an Islander?
We believe that arts & cultural events have an impact far greater and complex than can be captured in a statistic, or audience number. So as an effort to try and understand the impact of a cultural endevour in an Island community we would love to hear about your experiences.
More than anyone else, I benefited the most from Branchage, which makes me amongst the saddest to see it end.
In 2008 I left Hautlieu with a couple of A levels and no plans. A couple of months later all my friends left the island to go to university in the UK, I’d had multiple job rejections, and I was still without a plan. A sign appeared for Branchage Film Festival at a tiny office at Weighbridge Square and it grabbed my attention. I’d always loved film and music, but I didn’t know working in that world was even an option. Growing up in Jersey everyone I knew worked in hospitality, finance, property or childcare. All essential industries but not where I saw myself. I emailed the address on the poster and a couple of weeks later I got a response. “Please come down to the office this week, and we’ll chat to you about how you can help out.” Little did I know this would change the course of my entire adult life, and effectively start my career. From that point on I arrived to volunteer every day and got involved, from decorating the festival office to research tasks for the marketing department to sourcing 100 bags of sand. I helped out in any way I could and learnt actual, tangible skills.
When the festival finished they asked me if I’d be able to continue working for them, as an intern in London. I was thrilled it had paid off, and I wanted to move. I saved up for 6 months working shifts between a clothes shop in the day and St Mary’s pub in the evening. I’d become ambitious for maybe the first time.
I worked for Branchage right up until the next festival, then I stayed in Jersey. I thought another job in London working in film would come up, but for that time I couldn’t afford to stay. Within a month I was offered an interview and job with Shooting People, the UK’s largest filmmakers network, purely off the back of a recommendation from the festival producer. Again, I was overjoyed, so I packed up and went back to London and I’ve been here ever since. I stayed with Shooting People for four years and had the opportunity to work with brands such as Channel4, BAFTA and PUMA. I traveled to Austin Texas, Copenhagen, Cyprus and Milan to represent the organisation and host sessions at film festivals. I helped countless filmmakers meet collaborators, raise funding and find audiences for their films. From there I moved into film sales and am now the Community and Partnerships manager of a new streaming platform called Colony, working on new releases and helping to grow an exciting start up. The only reason I even knew jobs like mine existed is because of Branchage, and the reason I could go after what I wanted is with their help.
In Jersey’s financial grant system I was a person who lost out. My mother earned above the threshold necessary to receive financial backing for island students, but that system has no consideration for outside circumstances, she was not treated as a single parent household despite being the only earner. However, I do not feel I missed out, and that is because of Branchage. As soon as I left the festival to work in the industry I realised I had skipped a few rungs on the ladder, and that is because of the quality of the festival and being directly associated with it. A reference from the team was like a first class degree in my world. I got my education from them.
I continued to stay involved with the festival each year in any capacity I could, for 2014’s edition I was on a pre-selection panel for the short film programme. We decided to give feedback to each filmmaker from the island personally with a panel Vimeo, Film4 and the British Council. This is an absolutely unheard of opportunity for short filmmakers and I was so thrilled to be a part of bringing that to the island to encourage a positive environment for filmmaking but without the festival to hold this kind of event, it probably wont continue. This
is the epicenter of what makes me so sad to see the festival leave. If there was 10 more festivals, there would be 10 more versions of me, happy open and willing to come back to the island and nurture a community of filmmakers.
And last, but by no means least, I made life long friends through Branchage with people who worked on the festival, and people who attended. It is a family.