So we were sat planning this year’s festival at our AGM a couple of weeks ago and one of us suggested we should interview each other! And why not? What better way to find out about what goes on behind the scenes and find out more about the perks of volunteering at a DIY film festival than hearing it from some of the people doing it! We’ll be adding more interviews to this post as they come. But for now, check out what happened to our volunteers since turning up to one of our events at a car park in a semi-derelict cotton mill (yikes!), teamwork and staying positive when the going gets a bit tough, and heaps more!

Paisley Boyd – Technical Lead


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[Photo by Hamish Irvine]

What is your name and how did you find out about NGFF?

I’m Paisley and I found out about NGFF about 4 years ago when they first came to Canal Mills for their second ever festival. I found out about the volunteer programme through a call out email sent to Leeds College of Arts during my second year of studying. I was always on the lookout for places to work and volunteer within film at the time so this seemed ideal.

Why did you join, what were your expectations and experiences?

The festivals DIY aesthetics and its support of independent filmmakers appealed to me.

No Gloss are the rebels of the film festivals, breaking through barriers and problems within the film industry, they are not afraid to shake things up a bit.

It’s not all glitz and glam, it’s about the stories, the filmmakers and their journeys. I absolutely loved my first festival with No Gloss, I got fully involved helping out with the technical side of the screening and found something I really enjoyed. This led to more festivals and let’s just say I’m still here to this day, they must be doing something right!

How have you applied what you learnt, what impact did the experiences have on you, was it useful?

With the technical, film festival and problem solving experience gained from NGFF it gave me a great base for applying to other jobs in similar areas. I’m now a Projectionist at Hyde Park and Hebden Bridge Picture House as well as working various film festivals all over the UK. Working with the team gave me confidence in what I do, it’s super hard work at times but it is worth it when it all comes together.

Katie Lee-Sang – Volunteers Manager


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What is your name and how did you find out about NGFF?

My name is Katie and I am the Volunteers Manager at No/Gloss Film Festival. I was a student when I first heard about No/Gloss, studying Cinema & Photography at the University of Leeds. The tutors on the course were amazing and we were always bombarded with emails promoting upcoming opportunities for those wanting to work in film in Leeds. No/Gloss really stood out to me as it wasn’t the usual request for film crews or runner opportunities, and was just a different part of the film industry to explore as I still hadn’t yet decided what direction I wanted to go in.

Why did you join, what were your expectations and experiences?

I was in my second year of Uni when I first started volunteering for No/Gloss. So I think at the time myself and my best friend were just really keen to get some experience, see what it was all about and have some fun! I’d just started getting into events and production myself outside of my course, and seemed like a brilliant opportunity to combine my two passions and learn a few things about how film festivals operate.

What’s great at the heart of this festival is the DIY and independent attitude of everyone involved, whilst being such an amazing family to be a part of.

There are no hierarchies and no red carpets for anyone, everyone is equal and everyone has the opportunities to empower themselves for what it is they want to do. I feel like there can be a lot of pretension and a lot of looking down noses in this industry, and No/Gloss just isn’t like that.

It was this way of thinking that really stood out for me, so I expected to have a really nice time and meet some great like minded individuals, which I did! Some of which are my best friends to this day.

I have so much fun working on No/Gloss. You never know what is going to happen so you are always, always are on your toes. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s demanding but that’s what makes it so worthwhile at the end (and our amazing after parties)


How have you applied what you learnt, what impact did the experiences have on you, was it useful?

No/Gloss has taught me loads. Not only are you learning from working the operational aspects of the festival itself, working with others, pushing yourself to new challenges, gaining some new skills such as tech or PR, there is a lot to be said from what you learn through the films themselves.

Because the festival is so diverse and we host such a variety of film makers work, you are exposed to so many beliefs and perspectives and issues from all around the world today. A lot of the films from previous years I still think about on a regular basis because they have been so powerful to me. Empathy and compassion are very useful tools.

Volunteering for No/Gloss was probably one of the best decisions I have made whilst studying and working in Leeds. Since turning up to a car park in an abandoned cotton mill warehouse in 2014, I now work full time in events and have had opportunities to work on a number of festivals in and outside of Leeds, but No/Gloss will always be my slightly rough around the edges and stuck together with gaffa tape, home.

Holly Wyatt – Public Relations & Artist Liaison Manager

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What’s your name how did you find out about NGFF?
My name is Holly and I am the Public Relations & Artist Liaison Manager for No/Gloss. I found out about No/Gloss quite randomly, but I was over the moon when I did. It was 2014 when a friend of mine shared the festival page on Facebook and I messaged one of the directors on Facebook and asked if there was opportunity to volunteer at the festival. I was in my second year studying Entertainment Management at Leeds Beckett University and I was interested in gaining some work experience. No/Gloss looked completely different to anything else I had worked on and it really stood out to me as something I wanted to get involved in.

Why did you join, what were your expectations and what were your experiences like?
I literally had no expectations at all, I turned up to Temple Works where the 2014 festival was held that year. We spent the first day moving all sorts of random objects, such as fridges and even lampposts, and pieces of furniture from room to another to make space for chairs for each screening room. It was honestly hilarious and was so rewarding seeing rooms filled with unused, random items transformed into two separate screening rooms, and you really got to know the other volunteers and formed a tight knit group over the few days by being thrown in at the deep end with people you’d never met before.

The festival has definitely taught me how to work well under pressure, and definitely added to the fun of the weekend as strange as that sounds. The actual films screened were incredible, the directors made sure that in between working hard during the festival, we had chance to watch the films we wanted.

How have you applied what you learnt, what impact did the experience have on you, did you felt it was useful?
I am in my third year of working with No/Gloss and without sounding cheesy, No/Gloss has really opened a lot of doors for me. I made contacts within the industry who I am still in touch with to this day, as well as some great friends. In my third year of university I wrote my dissertation on film distribution platforms with a focus on film festivals and managed to get 13 interviews with people in the industry most of who I had met at No/Gloss. I also hosted my own one of screening evening and made a short documentary for BBC Yorkshire after being inspired by working at the festival. Despite the sheer mad schedule from organizing the event each year, a lot of running around and sometimes a little improvisation,

the directors still found time to show a genuine interest in what skills you wanted to develop. I was particularly interested in marketing and PR, which I have been allowed to explore in my time with No/Gloss.

After completing my degree I started a graduate role in a digital marketing agency with immediate start. I definitely feel that No/Gloss helped me get to this point, as well as exposing me to some unbelievable films along the way.