We are so very pleased to introduce you to another of our great Zealous X judges, Emma Mattei, Programmer at London-based Future Shorts, a festival spanning over 300 cities in 90 countries, forming part of the Secret Group. Emma is one of the judges for our Film category.

Hi Emma, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello! I programme film, short film especially, and I develop travel projects in print.

How did you end up at your career and do you enjoy doing what you do?
I co-founded a short film festival in Malta 12 years ago and it’s still running today. I took the programming on, as coming from a background in cultural journalism it wasn’t too much of a digression. I love short film, it’s an ongoing journey of discovery, good shorts possess a freedom that revitalises.

Future short is an impressive project, as a programmer how do you keep it so vibrant?
As its name implies we look for exciting, new voices in film – the next generation. It’s never tiresome searching for fresh perspectives and brave filmmakers.

You are the founder of Kinemastik, an international short film festival in Malta, why did you feel the need to create this cultural initiative there?
Malta is a pretty small place, we have subcultures there, but generally anything outside of the mainstream is underrepresented in the cultural calendar so we felt we had to make something happen. We also wanted to provide a much needed platform for Malta’s fledgling indigenous film industry.

What are the biggest challenges facing the creative sector right now? And does it take different skills to be a women in the creative world?
The creative sector can appear to be over saturated, especially in cities like London, but I’d say the biggest challenge is getting heard, and seen because a talented, courageous visionary can create an interesting piece of work without any budget. I’m also concerned about having to pay for tertiary education, but that’s a whole other discourse.

And as for your question about women and different skills I’d say no, you just need to be hard working and show confidence when putting your ideas forward, even if you don’t know where you’re going with an idea sometimes, you have to trust your instincts.

What your typical work-day looks like? You must be super busy with both Future Shorts and Kinemastik, how do you balance your personal life and work?
Programming happens in bursts and flurries, following by ‘blank’ periods to consider the works just viewed. This all followed by nothing approach is vital to me and keeps me interested and engaged with the works. My personal life is what happens when my computer is off. I slam the top down and go!

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting that you now know?
I wish I’d known how to budget – no matter how small your funds it’s really important to keep an eye on the financial side of things and strive to make things better – without necessarily ‘selling out’.

What advice would you have for someone breaking into your field? Is still London the place to be for creatives?
If you want to initiate a festival think about starting small and get your community involved (that’s an old-fashioned work for network). If you’re looking to be an auteur work hard at having a strong voice. If you’re looking to be a storyteller make sure you understand plot. If the dialogue’s stiff seek non-verbal ways of saying what needs to be said.
London is always an exciting place to be based, but perhaps you should consider setting your films further afield.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the Winter Future Shorts programme.

Zealous X is committed to unleash creativity and facilitate a dialogue between creative talents, brands and not for profit organisations. You are one of our amazing judges, what drew you to being involved in this discussion?
I’m excited to watch the submissions and discover gems.

3 things to do in London
Take a boat along the Thames as far as you can go.
Go for a late night drive past the sights (black cab).
Watch a good play.

Last question: favorite film?

Emma Mattei is Programmer at London-based Future Shorts, a festival spanning over 300 cities in 90 countries, forming part of Secret Group. She co-founded the Kinemastik International Short Film Festival in Malta, and created the Uncommon guide book series. She is currently producing a series of shorts for European Capital of Culture 2018, to take place in Valletta.

Zealous X is unleashing creativity at Rich Mix, Shoreditch over an exceptional 10-day festival from the 7th to the 17th of January 2016. Find out more.