Jordan McGibney, 22 years old, filmmaker and Nottingham resident, is one of the speakers making an appearance at the Nottingham International Microfilm Festival taking place in October this year. It’s an exciting time for the creative, having been given the funding and opportunity to make a short film for the travel company Expedia, with potential international coverage on YouTube and on the company’s website. Meeting at a coffee shop in the heart of the city, Jordan is faultlessly polite and well-mannered – he greets me first with a friendly hug, apologising profusely for being held up by an appointment. In a famously tough and heartless industry, it is a breath of fresh air to be faced with someone who seems to have unbounded enthusiasm for his vocation, “You start off as a director with an idea of what directing is… the more I’ve learned what directing is… the more that I fell in love with it.”
Jordan found his work ethic from a young age, “When I was about fifteen (I) just started making my own work… little bits and bobs… although it didn’t really kick-start any form of career until I was about eighteen.” It was at this point that “…I left college and decided not to go to University. I had spoken to lots of people in the industry and… I made the decision to actually finance my own… short film… and that was probably the beginning…” Putting work before further education, Jordan began in earnest. The confidence and quiet self-assurance that he carries could be considered to belong to someone much older and more experienced, and that could be based on the good foundations he has, “My parents have been incredibly supportive with whatever money they had… My Father has always had the opinion which is ‘“Do what you love, but do it well, and if you’re going to do something, try and be the best at it, no matter how impossible it seems…’” Luke and Rebecca McGibney have backed their son all the way, but it doesn’t seem that the journey has been an easy one, he admits “(I) overworked myself a little bit… working three jobs… We had to be very entrepreneurial how we made films…(but) anyone in the industry has to earn their place.” Despite any setbacks it could be said that Jordan has a pretty balanced approach to his role within the filming structure; “I don’t see myself as an artist… I see myself as more someone who analyses and someone who manages other great artists. I (enjoy)… building something and having that feeling similar to an architect, you’d build a building and that’s there throughout history… (it’s) the same with filmmaking, you build the film as a director and that’s there forever and I think that’s quite an enjoyable experience”.
When I ask him whether his age makes it harder for him, he disagrees, “There is a lot of opportunity for young people… whether it’s the BFI film academy, NFTS, Random Acts, so there is that opportunity out there and those are for specified funds… for young people.” However, “There is that kind of thing of, well, have you done your time? Do you actually know what you’re talking about?” But again, Jordan takes the positive approach; “…If someone’s saying I am a good candidate… I am what they’re looking for, but it’s purely based on age then I see it as an opportunity, which is, at least I’m proving myself at a young age and when I get to the right age then great.” After all “…If it came too easy to me then I wouldn’t have learnt as quickly as I have…”
Jordan’s short film about Nottingham won the funding and the opportunity to be shown as part of a web campaign Sight UnScene for the travel company, Expedia, in association with the Seattle-based National Film Festival For Talented Youth (NFFTY). Unlike traditional advertisements, the film, which comes under the term Microfilm, is a more creatively liberated project, which allowed Jordan greater freedom to express his creativity whilst also being able to promote the Expedia brand. This new label for films with a promotional undercurrent, can include brand management, product placement (as was seen with the recent Estrella Damm venture into microfilms with their online short ‘Vale’), or simply a promotion of a concept, person or idea. Jordan is already familiar with the concept Microfilm, his short film “Richard III” was selected to be shown at last year’s Nottingham International Microfilm festival. “Where NFFTY helped out, they opened up a pitch… for $3000, about £1600…and that would give you the opportunity to make a microfilm to show off your city…” He didn’t have much notice when submitting his idea to the Festival, “I was in Australia doing some work and basically just wrote a pitch over an afternoon and they liked it. It was a crazy-ass pitch but I’m a massive believer (that) you’ve got to be committed to what you want to make and stories that you want to tell.
According to Jordan, Expedia… “were absolutely lovely, but they were a little bit shocked that Nottingham (was) chosen,” rather than Milan, London, Paris etc. “I didn’t want to do a boring story about Nottingham… Nottingham, for me, is a beautiful, vibrant, fun place,” says Jordan, who took the opportunity to “show off (his) city”. And so, he made a vibrant and fun short film, “Monty Python style… a mixture of animation and live action, 50 medieval knights, a World War II jeep… Rather than saying we had history, showing we have history, that the people here are making history.” And the theme of introduction to the world? “Everyone knows Robin Hood and I was kinda cheeky in the pitch… I put Nottingham: The City of Robin Hood…” But he stressed his serious intentions, “As someone who loves Nottingham as a city, you know… it was great to have an opportunity to actually go… alright, lets show the world how cool we are…”
When asked if he enjoyed working on a microfilm, with certain promotional expectations, Jordan was very positive; “I actually found it quite liberating… No two cases will be the same… if you’ve got a great (executive) who… is there and facilitates… and guide(s) the director, it’s absolutely brilliant… you end up with really great feedback… It allows you to show off in a very short amount of time, ok this is how it can be sometimes.” He also added, “It’s a fun experience, at my heart I like to tell stories. For this one with Expedia, it was telling a story about a city that I love, therefore, of course it was going to be more enjoyable.” The key for him did seem to be the relationship between the director and the executive being a communicative and positive one, “Stephanie (Malone) was one of the best… execs I’ve worked with in America and she was so trusting in the vision that I had for the piece…” But would he consider working on microfilms again? “Absolutely… I am always more focussed on stuff that is narrative based that… can connect people… The best (microfilms) always feel so free and passionate and that’s what I try to do.”
Jordan’s microfilm will be shown; taxidermy animals, knights and all, at this year’s Microfilm festival running from 20th-22nd October 2016.
Interview and article by Miriam Blakemore-Hoy