Steve Epstein - Hackney Shorts
A Q&A with Hackney Shorts founder, Steve
As the official sponsor of the Hackney Shorts festival, Impact
were eager to sit down with founder Steve Epstein and found out
where he got the inspiration to start the festival, and to hear
first-hand its effects on the borough and his plans for the future
of this great initiative.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am an award-winning building contractor. Also the founder of
Hackney Shorts and part-time documentary filmmaker. Before that, I
travelled extensively for a number of years and went on to study
Social Anthropology. I am currently completing a short doc
about the Jungle in Calais. I have 4 children and live in Stoke
What was the inspiration for Hackney
The inspiration for Hackney Shorts comes from the desire to
hear other peoples stories. We are in a fast-changing world.
Migration from all over the world is at an all-time high.
Homelessness is a huge problem. These are faceless groups of people
without voices. This came home to me strongly when I was filming in
the Jungle -Calais. These people need to be heard. They have moving
and shocking stories to tell. We all have stories to tell. Hackney
Shorts was set up to provide a platform for these stories. Our
Can you tell us about the team?
We have a diverse team ranging from artists to film producers
to set designers to web designers and advertisers. Everybody works
for free and because they believe in the project.
Did you have a particular vision for it?
The vision for Hackney Shorts is that it becomes a platform
for filmmakers of every level to tell their stories. We want to see
films by established filmmakers being shown alongside films made on
iPhones by amateur filmmakers who want to get their story
What was the highlight of your first year?
The highlight of the first year was watching the submissions.
We couldn't believe the quality and the diversity of entries. It
Are you surprised at the current success for year
I am surprised at the success of the first year. Hackney
Shorts seems to have captured the imagination of the community. A
sign of the times perhaps.
What has the quality of the submissions been
We are not fully into the viewing yet but we are very excited
by the few that we have seen so far. It is going to be very
difficult to choose winners. We have films from here in the UK
alongside films from Iran, Argentina, Columbia, Switzerland, Korea
and the list goes on. Exciting stuff.
What do you see the opportunity potential for new film
I am hoping that Hackney Shorts will be a positive platform
for new filmmakers. That the industry will take a look at the
entries, be inspired by the evident talent and give opportunities,
funding and mentoring to those that need and deserve
What can we expect from the finalist award
A great night of film. We have 3 categories and will show 3 or
even 4 films from each depending on their length. There will be an
opportunity to meet the filmmakers during the intermission. We will
have drinks and food and space to mingle. The night culminates in
the announcement of the winners and they will receive their award
and prize of £1000. If last year is anything to go by it will be
brilliant. A chance to watch a diverse range of films, meet
filmmakers and industry professionals. Not to be missed.