by Barry Morgan
10 Days in Dublin is an open format arts festival which includes a wide range of disciplines from Theatre, Music and Stand Up Comedy to Spoken Word, Painting, Sculpture and, of course, Film.
Recently I interviewed, Founding member and Festival Director Dan Bergin and Film Co-Ordinator Dave Desmond.
1. 10 Days in Dublin is now in it’s third year, congratulations! Explain the genesis of the festival, was it born out of necessity or just something to do during the summer?
Dan: Thanks! So 10 Days in Dublin is the product of a conversation between myself and producer Rob Kearns. We had both been working in the arts for a few years and grown really interested in putting together an open-access festival for Ireland, mostly because we couldn’t understand why there wasn’t already one here. We both think that its an excellent festival format, and absolutely essential for a healthy and accessible arts scene. So after a few conversations about what we could do (including one particularly misguided concept based around putting a bar in an old oil tanker) we said we’d go for it. So now, three years on here we are….
2. What is it that sets 10 Days apart from the other festivals in Dublin?
Dan: 10 Days in Dublin is a festival format usually referred to as ‘open-access’. This means that we don’t curate the acts that come in; we don’t pick and choose according to a set theme, or idea. This means we get a really diverse and exciting range of performances, which hopefully means there’s something for everyone. Its a pretty common festival format around the world with massive festivals in places like Brighton, Adelaide, and of course Edinburgh, following that format. But for some reason we’re the only ones doing it in Ireland….
3. Since you’re in your third year and have beaten the “Difficult second album” phase, has the festival become a well oiled machine? Or are there still a few headaches?
Dan: Well, this year is still a tricky one. Last year it was very tough as the festival grew from 32 acts in 10 venues to a whopping 96 acts across 26 venues. So it was a bit of a mad dash to hold it all together, while trying to draw on experience the team has had outside of the festival to get it all to work. This year we’re finally able to look back at what it is about running 10 Days in Dublin that is so unique, so now the challenge is to try and get organised much earlier to take advantage of that. This has lead to us taking on more folks to help with the running of the festival, coordinating between acts, managing marketing etc. Really it means a lot of boring planning and stuff, but its cool to now have lots of really talented folks saying they’re into the idea and really want to see it work.
4. Has Film always been a part of the festival? How has this section grown over the past few years?
Dan: We only started having films last year actually. Lots of folk came up to us in year one and said that they loved the festival, but for an open arts festival we seem to have a limited selection of art forms (at the time the festival was just Theatre, Comedy, and Music). So we said we’d change that and took on Heather Mulvaney to help us with Film and Visual Arts. That year we also got a few spoken word registrations so we figured we’d give them their own strand. The three new strands went very well, so when it came to planning this year we said we’d keep going with ’em but to give each strand its own coordinator. Heather couldn’t do the festival again this year so Dave has come on as our Film coordinator, and he’s been doing a bang-up job!
5. So, say I’m someone who has an idea for a short film, just an idea and I want to get involved in 10 Days, what would your advice be?
Dave: Well, if you feel like you can get the film completed by the time the festival begins, then by all means you should register with us. That’s a pretty tall order for this year, but there’s always next year. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for anyone who’s thought about making a film to get motivated because you know it’s going to have its moment of big-screen glory. Plus all you really need these days is a DSLR and a laptop so there’s really no excuse.
6. And of course it’s not just performers you’re looking for right? You rely heavily on the kindness of volunteers. Where do you need help and how can one get involved behind the scenes?
Dan: We need help everywhere! At present the festival gets a tiny amount of funding from Dublin City Council and no Arts Council funding at all, so we really need folks who are willing to lend a hand to keep things smooth sailing. We need technical volunteers to help out back stage with setting up shows, loading in kit, etc. and front of house volunteers to help with ticketing, ushering, and providing festival information to the public. We try to make sure everyone who comes to the festival gets a good experience and we’ve already had a few folks looking to get involved! If you were interested in helping out as a festival volunteer then the best thing to do is to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
7. What are you looking for in term of film content? All original, I assume but are we talking Feature Length? Documentary? Music video? Messing around with your mates?
Dave: All of the above really. We want to give budding film makers as well as more experienced directors the chance to showcase their work. That means there’s a place for every sort of film here at 10 Days in Dublin. So far we’ve received short films, documentaries, music videos, short animations and features, with genres ranging from sci-fi to slasher films. It’s amazing to to see the diversity of films coming in, not to mention how high the standards are. It’s shaping up to be a very interesting programme with something in there for everyone.
8. What venues will films be shown?
Dave: We’re still looking into finding the perfect venue for our film screenings. We ran screenings in the basement at Film Base last year so that’s an option, but we’re also looking at venues like the Lighthouse as we feel that might suit some of the bigger films that are coming in.
9. What, in your own opinion, is the best and worst thing about Irish Film at the minute?
Dave: I think it’s great seeing some genre films coming out of Ireland these days, with things like The Guard and Grabbers doing really well at the box-office. Also a lot of behind the scenes work going on with post-production houses like Screen Scene providing VFX on big names including Game of Thrones and A Good Day to Die Hard. And with award winning animation house Brown Bag picking up big contracts with Disney last year, it really looks like things are shaping up for the Irish film industry. The worst thing I feel about the industry here in Ireland is that the people investing money in film production are all too willing to play it safe without giving some of the younger generation a chance shine. The good thing is that with digital film being so accessible these days that film makers can work relatively cheaply so it’s a bright future as far as I can see.
10. So at the start of all things, you set out with the idea that 10Days was deserving of a three year run to really let it find it’s feet. How do things look now? Three more years?
Dan: Well last year nearly killed me, so we’ll see how this year goes. 🙂
Seriously though, I’d like to see 10 Days in Dublin become a permanent part of Ireland’s cultural ecology, and be something for everyone to look forward to year on year. There’s a lot of things that need to come together for that to happen though, so for now I just want to see this year be the best it can be.
The Festival runs from July 4th – 13th.
Closing date for submissions is the 5th or April.
For more information, check out www.10daysindublin.ie