Festival producer Chloe Trayner talks Underwire Film Festival

On Tuesday 19th November, STUDIO will be sponsoring the 4th Annual Underwire Film Festival Opening Night Party at The Yard Theatre in East London.


Launched by founders Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell in 2010, with the belief that women working in the UK film industry needed more encouragement and a bigger platform for their work, the five-day London-based festival has gone from strength to strength in inspiring and celebrating women from all backgrounds and disciplines, in the hopes to create a greater diversity of perspective within the movie business.


Now in it's fourth year, we caught up with festival producer Chloe Trayner before the big night to get the ins and outs of Underwire.



STUDIO: This is Underwire's fourth film festival. Congratulations! How does it feel?

Chloe Trayner: It all feels a little surreal to be honest! After working on the festival since the start of the year, it's amazing to finally be able to share all of that hard work with our audience. My favourite thing about the job is getting to meet all of the filmmakers at the festival and I can't wait to get started!


STUDIO: Tell us about how the very first Underwire Film Festival came about.

CT: Underwire was started by Gemma Mitchell and Gabriella Apicella when they decided that something needed to be done about the under representation of women working in film. The festival celebrates women working across the crafts, something unseen before in the UK. It wasn't just about showing films, but about bringing filmmakers together to collaborate and communicate with each other to create a network for female filmmakers. It's always been a festival designed for filmmakers by filmmakers and I think that's one of the strongest things about us.


STUDIO: Why do you think women working in the UK film industry are not always given the recognition they deserve?

CT: I'm not sure if I know the answer to that. I think part of the reason is the imbalance in the amount of women and men working in the UK film industry and the difficulties that women face when working as a minority, especially in the crafts. It's a very hard industry to break into and there are lots of talented people without enough jobs to go around. I think in terms of recognition, we just need to keep giving these filmmakers a platform to show their work and meet other filmmakers to keep collaborating on projects.


STUDIO: Why focus on 'shorts by women' and not feature films?

CT: Our focus is on shorts mainly because it allows us to give a platform to emerging talent. We support new filmmakers and filmmakers who may not have made the step to making filmmaking a full time career. It's amazing the amount of talented filmmakers that there are out there making short films and learning by doing. It's a real privilege to be able to share their work with an audience as well as being able to nurture that talent to go on to do amazing things.




STUDIO: Tell us about the XX Award.

CT: The XX Award is something quite unique to Underwire. The idea behind the award is the lack of interesting female characters at the heart of films today. The films selected for the programme can be made by filmmakers of any gender and all feature female protagonists who challenge the way we traditionally see women. It's a great way to kick the festival off as it always gets people talking.


STUDIO: You also recognise women film reporters and journalists – an award we always keep our eye out for! Why do you think this is just as important to acknowledge?

CT: I think film journalism is equally as hard an industry to crack as filmmaking. We wanted to support writers who were looking for the next step in their career by running our film journalism competition last year. It's a competition that we're hoping to run again in the future as we get the chance to hear so many voices that we wouldn't normally have had a chance to.


STUDIO: This year, the festival is being hosted at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick. What made you chose this venue?

CT: The move East felt very natural for us this year. We've always been very grass roots and we felt like our main audience was from East London, so it made sense for us to take Underwire to them. The Yard is an amazing space, a converted warehouse that is now used as a theatre, and from the moment I saw it I knew it would be the place for Underwire. It's not a traditional cinema venue, but we're not a traditional festival so it seemed right.


STUDIO: What do you hope for visitors to gain at the festival?

CT: I hope that people will get to see some short films that they may not see elsewhere and to focus on an aspect of filmmaking that may not have been something they've thought about before. We have a day focused on industry panels and workshops as well, so hopefully the audience for those events will learn something to help them navigate the industry. I'd also love for people to meet some interesting people and have some great conversations about the films, about filmmaking and plenty of other things in between. We're all about community and bringing people together.


STUDIO: After the festival, what does the future hold for Underwire?

CT: Underwire will be taking a little break to recover before we open submissions again for next year's festival and start planning all over again. We'll also be popping up at a few other festivals for partner events including London Short Film Festival and continuing our bi-monthly networking events, Time of the Month.




Words by Louise Robina Happé.



Underwire runs from 19th - 23rd November.


STUDIO and Underwire would like to invite you to celebrate the start of this year's festival and the drinks are on us! Join us in the bar from 6:30pm before heading into the XX Award screening at 7:30pm to hear from the Underwire Festival Team. Click here for more info on the Opening Night Party.


Check out the full programme at

“Underwire celebrates women working across the crafts, something unseen before in the UK.”

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