The Weaverfish world premiere took place on the 12th May 2012 at the Bootleg Film Festival in Toronto. Director Harrison Wall and Producer Mark Maltby were both present at the event, along with leading actress Lucy-Jane Quinlan and committed supporter Sophie Brown.
Screening during the 6pm block of films, Weaverfish attracted a positive turnout in, what appeared to be, the busiest night of the festival. The line up for the evening included special screener The Undrawn, directed by festival organiser Jeffrey P. Nesker, Making Funny Stuff, a comedy series teaser featuring the evening’s presenter Glen McDonald, and My Left Hand Man, a short emotional drama piece starring Love Actually‘s Thomas Brodie Sangster. With Saturday being the closing night of the festival the Awards Ceremony also took place a few hours later.
Bootleg Film Festival marked the first time that Weaverfish had been screened in front of an audience in its entirety. Director Harrison Wall described the experience as, “The most terrifying I have ever sat through… solely because, in a room with so many strangers, I found myself watching it in the most critical light. Weaverfish was one of six feature films showing at the festival, playing at an uncut 100 minutes in length, and amidst all the shorts that night it just felt so long. I was worried people would lose interest, but no one did. Everyone stayed until the end. And the supportive feedback afterwards could not have been more relieving to hear.”
Mark reveals that he was equally nervous in the lead up, “My mind was telling me, this is it, tonight is going to be the first time that the project we have spent the last year or so sweating over non stop will be viewed by an impartial audience. If they all just walked out and left, or told us it was a load of rubbish, not only had we just wasted a year of our lives, and £5,000+ each of our money, we would also have no future in the film industry. Of course none of that is true, but I think that’s the way your mind plays things out. It gives you ultimatums; pairs everything down to the lowest common denominator in every circumstance.”
Fortunately, for the two filmmakers and everyone else involved, the screening was a success. Harrison was invited to participate in a Q&A immediately following the screening, along with Mark and Lucy, in which they discussed the making of the film. It was during this that they revealed how the film was shot on a self-funded £10k budget over a period of 16 days. Audience members were particularly interested in the casting process, given the impressively large ensemble that Weaverfish boasts for its budget. The visual effects were also a popular subject, as was the conception of the film’s idea. Mark and Harrison responded to all the questions with answers that longterm Weaverfish fans may be familiar with by now, however, for most of the audience, this was the first time that they had even heard of the film.
The film received much praise for its script. One audience member, during the Q&A session, described the screenplay as “sophisticated” and the review from I Heart Movies TO proclaimed it “gripping”. Performances from the cast were also acclaimed by the viewers and the critics. Mark reveals, “When the film was finally over, the reaction was fantastic. Not only did people come to show their appreciation, they kept coming back to show it again.” Harrison adds, “Mark and I always had this worry in the back of our minds that people wouldn’t ‘get it’. And that refers to everything from the style of the film to the outcome of the story. But people were coming up to us after the film and telling us what happened. They were talking about the stylistic elements that they liked, which of course is taken for granted in the world of cinema, but for us it was a very overwhelming feeling.”
The Awards Ceremony took place at the end of the night, offering out prizes to both feature and short films including Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Screenplay. Weaverfish‘s Lucy-Jane Quinlan picked up the award for Best Actor – Feature (Female), for her role as Charlotte Menary. As an actress making her feature screen debut, this was an honourable achievement.
Over the course of the festival, audience members had been required to fill out a review card at the end of each film block, giving the films that they had seen a rating between one and five stars. On the final night, the average scores were taken to calculate the winner of the Audience Choice Award. This award was presented to Weaverfish.
Harrison admits, “Going up to receive the award, I was so taken-a-back that I had no idea what to say. We are incredibly proud of the team and how every single person’s contribution has pieced together to create Weaverfish. We will look at it critically, because that is how we improve as filmmakers, but we are thrilled by the reaction so far. Mark adds, “At least we know that we can hold peoples’ attention and deliver something that they want to see out to the end… And they loved the ending!”