Film Devour is a film showcase event running four times a year in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Brian Mulholland created the group six years ago, without ever realising the fantastic success it would be. He has taken the group from strength to strength and their 23rd event is happening Wednesday 5th July.
Curious about how Film Devour came to be, Mullholland tells us the story. “About 6 years ago now, I was one of those filmmakers...putting [their film] on YouTube or Vimeo. Your friends and family would like it and then the story just died. Whatever your film was, that’s it. It was very hard to get it out there.”
“Without realising there was a niche in the market, I just decided I knew filmmakers like myself, so I decided to get some of them in a room and “let’s all kinda watch our own films.” So I booked a place in Belfast, the SafeHouse Art Gallery, that promised me they could fit 30 seats in and 60 people showed up!”
Now suitably rehomed in the Black Box, with a comfortable 175 people in attendance at each event, Film Devour runs four times a year to meet the incredible demand. What makes it so top-class? “It’s turned into a networking event. A lot of people will leave Film Devour one night and they will go and then work with people whose work they’ve seen on screen. It’s a whole real burgeoning community.”
With such an unusual name for the group, we wondered how he came up with it. “Film is like food to me. You should eat right. You should watch all your classics and watch foreign films, but every now and again we all need to treat ourselves: that would be your blockbusters. Your big cheesy burger of a Guardians of the Galaxy 2!” Using his analogy of food for film, Mulholland knew he really devours movies, and the name Film Devour was born.
Film Devour has grown to feature as a part of the Belfast Film Festival as well as having some corporate sponsorship. “Our stipulations are basically 15-minutes duration, locally themed and produced, because the ethos of Film Devour was born out of Belfast people and then extended areas. It’s now stretched to the whole island of Ireland!” All entries are screened for eligibility and vetted to be of a good enough quality to show, then wanting to give people the best chances, it’s first-come, first-served!
While the atmosphere is social, there is a reverence for the films. The audience includes cast and crew from all of the various productions, however it has grown to attract a wider audience. “We had a tweet once about some guy who was on a blind date and he took her to Film Devour!” Getting recognised on the street as the face of Devour, Mulholland has grown the group into a known event in Belfast, both as a good night out and for its love of film.
Supported by a strong team, Film Devour is a slick operation. David Fleming is the festival technician, and previews all of the films with Mulholland. Roy Beggs is the treasurer and resident doorman (say Hi the next time you visit!), while Nail McKenna is the festival designer. Mulholland is effusive about their support and their contribution to the events. Critically, Mulholland’s wife, Corrine Heaney is in charge of social media and live-tweets through the night. Even if you're not in attendance, you can still be in the loop.
Mulholland views Film Devour as a showcase for new and established talent to get their work screened. However, he also recommended the event as a testing ground where filmmakers can really learn the what’s what of their work. “We have a lot of filmmakers saying to us, “I haven’t finished but I really wanna tweak this or do this or do the other,” and I’ve said to them, “Show it as it is if you don’t think it’s good. If you want to, show it as it is and then the audience will tell you if you need to make changes. Don’t treat it almost as an ending, as a destination. It’s a rung on the ladder of its journey.”
Mulholland would love to tour Devour around Ireland but for the time being, they’re staying where they are. “It’s been a wonderful thing, one of the best things I’ve ever achieved in my life without even realising essentially what I was doing. It was born out of a need and a want for people to see my movies, so now it’s grown out of all proportion, but in a really lovely way.”
Film Devour is on Wednesday 5th July, doors open at 7pm at Black Box, 18-22 Hill Street, Belfast. We can't wait!