Help us make a new silent film and music festival for Yorkshire
There's something magical about silent film with a live music score. Whether accompanied by a single, improvising pianist or a full orchestra, the atmosphere of live music combined with silent film is unique.
We only have three or four silent film festivals in the UK - in Bristol, London, Leicester and Bo'Ness, Scotland. There are all sorts of wonderful things about living in the north of England - but it's not exactly a hot-spot for silent film fans.
So we're doing something about that.
The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival won't be an ordinary festival happening in one place. Instead, YSFF will go to ten different places over a whole month, from great northern cities to remote villages. We'll do screenings in village halls, theatres, independent cinemas and arts centres in West, South & North Yorkshire, and the East Riding.
We're going to show all sorts of films, from the swashbuckling adventure films like THE BLACK PIRATE to spectacular dramas like THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Great stars like Lillian Gish and Louise Brooks (below) will be lighting up the screen.
Early Hollywood's most successful female director, Lois Weber, will feature, with screenings of two of her films. What else? Well, a film starring the great escapologist Harry Houdini - THE GRIM GAME - which was thought lost for decades, will be getting its first screenings outside of London. The great British silent SHOOTING STARS, newly restored by the British Film Institute will be there, as will that great 20s flapper star Colleen Moore in the fizzy comedy ORCHIDSAND ERMINE. There'll be plenty of great comedy from Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and the great female comedy team of Marion Byron and Anita Garvin. And we'll be celebrating the centenary of the twelve wonderful short comedies Charlie Chaplin made for the Mutual Studio by screening all twelve of them. Closing the festival will be Fritz Lang's epic masterpiece METROPOLIS.
Silent film should always have live music - the atmosphere of a flickering old movie up on the screen while live music brings it all to vivid life is something really special. We've got some of the best silent film pianists and percussionists lined up to play - including the wonderful Lillian Henley - alongside Britain's only silent film harpist (the splendid Elizabeth-Jane Baldry) plus Leeds' brilliantly inventive duo 'That F*****g Tank' (Crowdfunder doesn't like the band's full name, so we have had to be coy about it!)
Our twelve terrific venues are Hyde Park Picture House Leeds, Showroom Sheffield, Hebden Bridge Picture House, Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough, Cast in Doncaster, Hull Independent Cinema at Hull Truck, The Old Schoolhouse Leyburn, Saltburn on Sea Community Arts, Hepworth Village Hall, Square Chapel Halifax, Helmsley Arts Centre, and Left Bank & Little Reliance Cinema in Leeds.
Some venue partners are entirely volunteer-run, some are fully professional; we want the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival to reach audiences of all types, and we want to encourage all venues that want to champion silent film, no matter what resources they have.
Why we need your help
We have some funding, and all sorts of people are working with us for nothing, or next to nothing...but it's not quite enough. We need to raise at least £3000 to make sure that this July's festival is everything we all want it to be.
The money we raise will go on paying festival musicians and transporting them all around Yorkshire (it's the biggest county in Britian, so we'll cover some miles). Some of the money will go towards commissioning new music scores, from harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry and Leeds duo That F*****g Tank. We'll spend some on marketing and publicity, and some on the costs of film exhibition. As Jonathan says in the video, he won't take a fee for producing the project this year - but we absolutely must pay all our musicians.
Our overheads are virtually nil. The festival is a grassroots affair - there are no paid producing or admin staff and no office to pay for. Everything you pledge will go straight to the festival itself. Nothing will be wasted.
Producer Jonathan Best is an experienced festival producer and has led festivals all over the UK, most recently Classical Weekend in Sheffield, Festival of the North East, and Holmfirth Arts Festival. (Jonathan is also a silent film pianist and will be doing some playing in the festival). Working with Jonathan is Laura Ager, a highly experienced film programmer and producer based in Leeds. Neil Brand and Judith Buchanan are the festival's Artistic Advisors and offer guidance when we need it. It's a good team, all working for now't for this first edition of YSFF.
We've put all sorts of reward packages together - I hope there's something that will appeal to everyone. Every little helps - that's the beauty of crowdfunding! If you can't help, perhaps you know someone who might want to and you could tell them all about us?
If you do decide to pledge you'll not just be supporting a festival - you'll be part of a group of founding backers, people who committed right at the start and helped bring what we hope will be an annual event into existence for the very first time.
Thanks for reading this. Please play a part in bringing great silent film with live music to audiences all over Yorkshire!