Before a 10-day film festival, event organisers at London Short Film Festival (LSFF) work hard to create accessible and inclusive content that everyone can enjoy. After all, the BAFTA-affiliated festival is renowned for its unique focus on diverse and multidisciplinary short films, regardless of geography or language.
London Short Film Festival was founded in 2003 by Philip Ilson, now Artistic Director, and Kate Taylor. While hosted across locations in London, the festival has also enjoyed global recognition.
Boasting visitors from around the globe, the festival features a curation of over 500 short films, events, and discussions. It has been a crucial stepping stone for the thousands of budding filmmakers eager to qualify for the BAFTA awards someday.
About LSFF’s Process
Each year, the festival organisers process over 5000 short film submissions and ensure that every selected film meets their criteria. What are their criteria? Simple. Accessible content, and if you’re an international filmmaker, fully subtitled in English.
Thousands of creators submit their work for consideration, and hundreds are selected for screenings. But LSFF didn’t have a streamlined and cost-efficient solution to support filmmakers with submission-qualifying short films, to meet the strict accessibility standards of the festival until now.
The Challenge of Going Online
Accessibility was a key focus for LSFF as they hosted their first online festival in January 2021.
In conversation with Philip Ilson, Artistic Director at LSFF, it soon became apparent that for a film festival seeking to create an accessible experience for all, there was rarely an opportunity to do so easily– if at all.
“LSFF is committed to making short cinema as accessible as possible to all,” said Philip. “Now that we’re going online, subtitling is critical for us to make sure we’re serving our Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, as well as other audiences who require that support.”
Philip and his team sought out solutions that would set their filmmakers up for success. A smooth workflow was essential for his team, who partnered with Cinebox to produce the festival.
They needed a platform that would support multi-team collaborations and offer SRT files for filmmakers to submit alongside their works. They found themselves on the market searching for ways to transcribe and subtitle over 200 film titles smoothly.
“The challenge is getting people to engage with the content online,” says Philip. “But the plus side we’ve discovered is that we've gone even more global now!”
Like other film festivals, their global audience meant that they also needed a way for their filmmakers to have access to subtitling tools regardless of the original language of the submissions. So finding an accurate solution with multi-language support was also an essential requirement.
Simple and secure platforms to ensure full accessibility for each submission aren’t easy to come by for filmmakers, so creating a collaborative workflow between LSFF, their filmmakers and Cinebox was crucial when looking for solutions.
Partnering with Subly, the LSFF implemented a streamlined workflow that would allow each filmmaker to transcribe and subtitle their work through Subly and submit SRT files directly to Cinebox.
Their process made use of the high accuracy rate of transcriptions and the SRT files available at export. The team prioritised access to SRT files to ensure the accuracy of subtitles and so the subtitles could be added to high-resolution files after download.
Subly gave the filmmakers the power to add and edit subtitles to meet submission requirements.
Philip said: “The process was exciting because it meant that we could also resize certain works all in the same editor to help our filmmakers spread the word on social media!”
With Subly, LSFF worked to create a simple workflow for all filmmakers, ensuring security for each piece of work and account made. This way, LSFF was able to provide subtitling solutions to their filmmakers at no extra cost for them and meet all accessibility standards before their online events.
The result– “Subly has been crucial in streamlining our whole process online.”
On 15 January 2021, LSFF hosted their first-ever online-only film festival, fully subtitled for an accessible and inclusive experience.
“To move the whole festival online has been quite a challenge since we’ve never had much of an online presence,” says Philip. "But Subly was intuitive to figure out.”
“Both the team and our filmmakers have found it easy and quick to use, and it's been crucial in streamlining our whole process.”
The attendance was in the hundreds, almost as LSFF would expect for an in-person event, and the feedback very positive. LSFF ensured full accessibility for their audience for every short film featured all while saving time by implementing an easy to use subtitling tool. It was the ideal solution for LSFF, who needed to ensure accuracy, security, and a smooth process, all with a quick turnaround time to make sure their audiences were their happiest when watching!
“What is exciting about this period is that there is no reason why we can't continue to do the festival this way alongside being in the physical space,” says Philip. “We’d like to maintain that wider audience that we found this year.”
“Despite this being the first year of online-only film festivals, LSFF is open to the idea of looking further into creating more digitally inclusive content,” says Philip. “Therefore, the longer-term opportunity for integration, translation, and live subtitling services made Subly stand out to us amongst other competitors.”
LSFF is now considering ways to expand its digital reach thanks to the success that its newly established workflow brought them.
Want to discover how subtitling can help save your organisation time too? Sign up to Subly for free today and give it a go!