by Margaret Chrystall
ZOMBIES are coming to Tain this weekend – alongside members of a young English rock band who feature in a short film in the new Fling! Film Festival.
Festival director Stuart Wells, said: "The Zombify event has had considerable interest, so we may run out of slots for our workshops.
"But there are plenty of tickets left for most of the film screenings."
Saturday and Sunday will see the Duthac Centre transformed into a cinema where feature films – including new film The Maze Runner – classic movies and short films made by youngsters across the world will be shown.
Stuart explained: "We set up a film society a few years ago with a view to putting on irregular films in Balintore for the community.
"That went OK, it had a good uptake, but it was less successful for adults than it was for young people. We only did it to break even.
"It’s quite a lot of work so we thought another way of doing it might be to make a festival and have a bigger event.
"We put in for some funding, but didn’t hear anything of it. Then in April-May we heard that we would get help. We got funding from Regional Screen Scotland and from a number of local businesses and Highland Council. But the last chunk of funding didn’t arrive till the end of June, so it’s been all hands to the pump."
Stuart and a small team also brought a group of young people in to consult on the festival and help choose the programme.
Stuart said: "They suggested the Zombify event with Sarah mcCracken coming up from Falkirk to do workshops over the weekend – people can come along and be ‘zombified’. We’ve also got a film-maker coming along and also want to get people to film it on their smartphones and we’ll edit it together.
"The idea is to sow all these kind of seeds this year and get the event known about.
Next year we will work with young people through the whole year and get more Zombify workshops, if that’s what people want – or make-up and design or film editing.
"Next year we also want to change the festival date into the tattie holidays which means we could do more workshops.
"The idea eventually is that we will be able to guide young people through the year, they can write their own scripts, make their own films and show them at their own festival.
"If you aren’t in Inverness, it’s really difficult to access this kind of stuff. Eden Court is great, but not everyone can travel 40 miles to get to their events. We want to provide a focus here so people can learn skills."
Stuart explained why he felt it was important to focus the festival on young people.
"I’ve loved film from when my dad took me to see Superman when I was a kid.
"So I just wanted to provide opportunities for young people to dream a little bit bigger, maybe.
"Young people here are just hungry to do things, so we wanted them to have the chance to get involved.
"And if they become an integral part of setting up and running the festival, all the skills involved in that are so transferable to anything. Great for people who want to go on for a job or into university.
"And there’s a lot of organising!"
The programme has been put together with help from a group of teenagers.
Stuart said: "As we identified films we knew we could get, we discussed it with the group, talking to them through Facebook. We’ll do more of that as we move forward because next time we’ll have 11 months instead of two and a half!"
Ian Brown of Film Mobile Scotland is coming from Edinburgh with the equipment to create a full digital cinema.
"It was through Ian’s contacts that we got The Maze Runner," said Stuart.
As well as the pre-release screening of the blockbuster, the classic movies include a remastered version of Back To The Future, Night Of The Comet plus the short films.
Another short film, Podium, has been made as a mockumentary.
The band from Royal Windsor featured in it are coming up to the festival as special guests.
Stuart said: "Six or seven of them are coming up – I did warn them the festival wasn’t being held in a big metropolitan area, just a small town!"
There will be 190 seats approximately in the Duthac Centre for each screening and tickets can be bought online through the festival website (see below).
"We want to provide a great festival for people so we hope they come along," said Stuart.
For full details: www.flingfilmfestival.co.uk And read full Fling! film listings on the film section of our website too.