An Interview with the Chair of the Iris Prize jury: Brian Robinson

Suryatapa Mukherjee is introducing a series of Iris Interviews! First up is Brian Robinson. He talks about being a walking encyclopaedia of films and his film-making tips.
The Iris Prize film festival of 2017 is only a couple of weeks away! There are so many amazing movies this year, I don't think I can choose - I have to watch them all! That's 35 international short films (competing for the grand prize to make another film), 15 Best British shorts and seven feature films. If you haven't read the festival catalogue yet, you are probably not familiar with some of the fascinating people participating at this year's festival. And trust me, they're every bit as fascinating as the films! So, I decided to talk to a few more of them and, of course, keep you in the loop! You will meet new faces every week - filmmakers, actors, jurors. And who better to kick this off than the Chair of the international shorts jury? Brian Robinson giving a speechBrian Robinson was a press officer for the British Film Institute 1987 – 2017. He developed a parallel career programming for both the National Film Theatre and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (now BFI Flare) where he remains on the programming team. He served as a juror for the Teddy award, Berlin; Queer Palm, Cannes; and Queer Lion, Venice. I talked to him about being a walking encyclopaedia of films and his top tips for the filmmakers. Is this your first time at Iris Prize?  This will be my first ever visit to the Iris Prize and I am excited to see a great crop of new films and shorts from around the world. I have seen lots of the prize-winners across the years and know that great films are regularly showcased here. I am also looking forward to meeting the film-makers and the audiences. The Independent described you as a "walking encyclopaedia of films"! So, what holds your attention on the silver screen? I love a good story - I like a film-maker to take us somewhere we’ve never been. And I like spectacle and emotional drama.
Brian Robinson in a fur coat on the set of Trouser Bar (2016).
On the set of Trouser Bar (2016). Photo: Esteban Requejo
What is your top tip for filmmakers making LGBT+ themed movies? Preparation is key. Making a film is like going into battle. You need a script that you can make into a film, that keeps your audience engaged and tells a cracking story. But you also need a strategy for what happens after the film is in the can. Good stills, publicity materials and a neat way of describing your film are really important. It has been 50 years since the partial legalisation of same-sex relations in England and Wales. What does having an LGBT+ film festival based here mean today? An LGBT+ film festival is an important marker for our community (and the wider world) that shows we have a cultural presence. It is incredibly important for our screens to reflect our lives and our stories. Decades of invisibility and having LGBT+ characters on the margins or dying in the last reel have had a powerful effect. We should never underestimate the power of film to enhance our lives.