Katie Metcalfe

Currently based in London, Katie has been a shorts programmer for Sundance Film Festival since 2010 and recently joined global video platform NOWNESS as a video commissioner.

  • Katie Metcalfe

Katie previously worked with Vimeo, helping launch their festival & awards in New York. She has also produced and promoted experiential live events for Secret Cinema and Punchdrunk. She is on the board of the Scottish Documentary Institute.

What’s your connection to the British Council?

I've been connected to the British Council over the years via several of their wonderful initiatives to support short filmmakers and emerging British talent. The British Council's brilliant travel grants scheme gives UK filmmakers selected for Sundance (as well as other worldwide festivals) support to travel with their films. I've also taken part in a number of Short Sighted events which are a very valuable resource for filmmakers. I will be speaking at the next Short Sighted event in London on 5 Nov.

What are you working on right now?
I'm in the final stages of watching submissions for Sundance Film Festival. We've received around 9,000 short films so far this year which are divided up between our team of nine programmers (which basically translates to spending a lot of time alone in a dark room!) I'm also working on developing the 2017 commissioning slate for NOWNESS and looking for filmmakers to direct episodes for our series such as Define Beauty, The Way We Dress and our new Define Gender series - as well as many new topics to come next year.

What originally turned you onto film?
I'd always loved films as a medium, but the game-changing moment happened when my dad intuitively took me to see a program of short films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in the mid-1990s - I felt like I'd been catapulted into another realm that felt very daring, unexpected and exciting. From then on I obsessively taped episodes of Channel 4's Shooting Gallery onto VHS - I think I still have Lynne Ramsay's Gasman on VHS somewhere! 

What was your first job in the film industry?
I literally built my own screen and started organising short film screenings for Future Shorts in around 2004 and it was a great experience, especially as the screenings were often held in non-theatrical venues, so I got frontline understanding of how the audience responded to the films. It was a great way to learn about programming and how to really make each individual film shine within a program. 

What is the key piece of advice you’d give to someone starting off in filmmaking?
Story and emotion are really crucial to the success of a film. I see a lot of films that are really technically perfect and solid - especially European coming-of-age or family dramas - but they end up feeling run-of-the-mill without that little bit of extra magic. The ability to move your audience (in any way or form) goes a long way - it's the hardest part of the craft to sustain.

What is your favourite British film? 
The first film that leaps to mind is Antonioni's Blow-Up - it's the ultimate fashion film, yet addresses so much more about British life in the '60s with a distinct sense of capturing a time and a place. There's a sense that London is never truly knowable in a way that's thrilling to watch. I was lucky to be able to fully realise my love for the film by recreating the world of Blow-Up for a screening event in New York for immersive cinematic event company Future Cinema.

If you could have been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be? 
Given the amount of time I've spent poring over the Trainspotting DVD extra discs, that may have to be the one... They contain some incredible nuggets of information - from discussions about the creative decisions behind the music, the process of adapting the book for screen and complications around how to present addiction. The best bit is you get to be a fly on the wall in the production office - with all the visual mood boards, character components, etc. Heaven!