Nottingham; the global hub for the microfilm sector

The Nottingham Screen Partnership (NSP) and the Nottingham International Microfilm Festival (NIM Festival) first came about as a result of the vision of Gianluca Sergi, Director of the Institute of Screen Research at the University of Nottingham. In 2012 Gianluca pulled key industry professionals from across the UK together into what is known in academia as a “Sandpit” day, involving a number of academic, industry and government representatives. Here, he and the rest of the group explored the landscape of the screen based industries, issues affecting them and opportunities presenting, and through this exciting discussion they were able to identify the need for, and devised the concept to form, a consortium group with the purpose of pulling together resources, skills and networks to support and sustain the screen industry. Working to an ethos of supporting creative disruption the resulting consortium group was finally launched in 2013, the NSP was born.
The NSP went on to host their first event in 2014, where UK and Chinese representatives met to discuss the creative landscape in China. The concept of Microfilm was presented at this forum by Dr Yang Ming, President of Xinhua Net Future Media Convergence Institute and Dean of the Nanjing Jingling College where microfilm skills are taught. In China, Microfilm is a term used to encapsulate all forms of online video content including personal reflections, branded content, creative shorts and music videos to name but a few! The NSP members; in particular from the University of Nottingham, Gianluca; Nottingham Trent University, Carole Fleming; and Nottingham City Council, Faith Blakemore, instantly saw its value and potential, and the opportunities that existed around this to support the wider global screen industries who have been wrestling to understand and engage with online films and the capacity to assess the success of such content. They also saw the need for it to be opened up to the world through an event that could help with exploration, engagement and training for this sector. At this point, the birth of the NIM festival was realised, the first initiative of the NSP based on the Microfilm sector.
Since its conception, the NSP has grown, both through the process of creating the NIM Festival, and in expanding in partnerships with organisations such as Creative Skillset, Confetti Media group, Wellington Films, The National Videogame Arcade and the Creative Quarter. Going from strength to strength, in 2016, the NSP invited their first international partner to join their management group, Markus Kambeck, Director of kambeckfilm GmbH, and the founder of the MEKA Network of media and creative businesses, based in Karlsruhe, Germany (one of Nottingham’s twin city). In September 2016 the NSP also received funding from the British Council to develop a CPD programme for Chinese Industry professionals and academics which will be based around the festival. Attracting over 20 Chinese professionals to attend the festival in Nottingham, the programme focused on developing skills around short format films, to bridge the skillset gap seen in China and the UK, and designed to aid in the production of excellence in video content within China.
Further developing international connections, the 2016 Festival also worked closely with organisations such as Cannes Lions who screened their Lions Entertainment award winners including their Grand Prix winner, “The Displaced”, a virtual reality film provided via the New York Times VR app and which enabled the audience will be able to experience the innovation of VR within the microfilm sector via Google cardboards which were provided by the festival.
Other developing relationships with organisations across the world has led to exciting opportunities and offers new research, activities and initiatives which the NSP can undertake to further support the development of the screen industries. The future therefore looks bright, and we at the NSP are look forward to that future.