Many of you will have heard of Jimmy Akinbola thanks to his appearances in Rev and Holby City on UK television. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here he is looking dapper.
Some of the fortunate few will have seen award winning Fraser Ayres perform his Edinburgh Fringe show Stuart: A Life Backwards last year for which The Guardian named him one of the best theatre actors of 2013. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for him, he was away filming during the TFSFF2014. Here is a video of Fraser in action.
There probably aren’t that many of you (actors excepted), who have heard of TriForce Promotions – yet. This is the company that Fraser and Jimmy founded 8 years ago with the aim of helping actors and creatives network and make new things happen. TriForce promotions started out from humble beginnings with events in dark and dusty pub back rooms but it has steadily grown thanks to the dogged energy of the founders, the support of friends, family and of course the formidable Creative Director Minnie Crowe who makes things happen. This year they also had the help of Festival Director,Morgan Tovey-Frost.
They now have over 12,000 members and hold events all over the UK and will soon be branching out into LA – that’s Los Angeles not Luton Airport.
TriForce really blossomed after they bought Monologue Slam UK four years ago. The concept for the slam is simple: give twenty actors the chance to perform a monologue in front of an incredibly lively and supportive audience, top casting directors and industry notables. With Jimmy acting as compère the events are big, brash and unlike anything we have seen in the UK – it’s like X-Factor but with kind people. As Monologue Slam grew they started to ping on the event radar of cities outside London and decided to take Monologue Slam UK out to Birmingham and Manchester.
With this success and with a full time team now running the events, TriForce decided in 2012 to run the first TriForce Short Film Festive (TFSFF). Initially at the Mayfair Hotel in London, it re-located to BAFTA at Piccadilly in 2013 and in 2014 they had over 800 submissions. With a keen eye on diversity, film-makers who submit to TriForce can come from more varied and under-represented backgrounds than the usual festival circuit. The atmosphere is still that combination of fun, oomph and support for which TriForce are now well known.
Snoovies has been all about helping grass roots film-makers emerge into the industry and so it seemed a perfect opportunity when we were asked to attend the event after being a sponsor last year. So we packed our kit and headed over for a day of networking, promotion and discovery. One of our discoveries was that our table was right next to the giant BAFTA face and it felt as if God her/him/itself was watching over us as we interviewed and chatted with the mostly young crowd who were attending the pre-gala seminars.
Almost all of them were directors, actors or producers and were there to find potential contacts or learn something at one of the meetings. Many were friends of Jimmy (aka Mr Nice) there to show support and discover new talent. Everyone we spoke to had something to say about short films.
“You can get away with a lot more, stylistically and artistically, with a short”
We also managed to interview a couple of the festival contenders – Chris Chung and Connor McKenzy who had entered their mini character piece called Lux. I’m not giving too much away to say that it has something to do with starlight and is a visually very beautiful film with a simple story arc and nice understated acting. Because it’s on the festival circuit we won’t be able to have it on Snoovies for a few months yet but we have interviewed Chris about his other Virgin Media Shorts shortlisted submission (Handuken. We also met producer Laura Manners and director Dean Otusanya Wood who hadn’t entered the festival but were about to launch their project with Sony and Slenky. Who are Slenky? It turns out they are an organization that link young people to their ‘shots’ or opportunities. Similar to Talenthouse it’s a way for big brands to connect with the next, media savvy generation of creative’s. The film is called Outsiders and will be premiered online in the new year.
“It’s a combination of arthouse and scifi.”
You know, writing about all this glitz, glamour and Harold Robins style rags to riches fables, it’s easy to forget that TriForce is also about promoting diversity. This year they won £250,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund which was set up to respond to the drive, talent, vision and determination of exceptional individuals in the role of cultural entrepreneur. Diversity is a word that is being thrown around the theatre and television circuit at the moment – as it is about once every decade. One of the ways to deal with the obvious lack of an accurate portrayal of modern society is to stop talking about how rubbish we all are and to just get on with practically challenging the entrenched system. Check what Jimmy had to say about how Triforce is tackling this issue.
TriForce’s Fraser Ayres was recently nominated for the Unsung Diversity Champion Award at The Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015. He’s achieved this for his efforts with TriForce to help promote the work of ALL actors and other creatives.
Here’s what some of the visitors to TFSFF had to say about diversity and the challenges they face.
“To… have people that are there already trying to fight our corner for us… is a great feeling.”
“There is a big difference between me leaving [drama school] as a black actress and my colleague leaving as just an actress.”
This year the TFSFF lasted the whole day with Seminars on Diversity in the Film Industry, Career Development and Film Production from Scribble to Screen. Then the Gala event in the evening with drinks, interviews and a screening of the finalists films.
The main room was full of seminar and expo supporters including Channel 4, The BFI and the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. We were particularly interested in speaking to Breakin’ Convention, The Mama Youth Project and a lovely, dedicated devotee of the media world who shall introduce herself.
“If you get lucky you can hop on one of them and start your career. ”
If you’d like to find out more then go to www.triforcepromotions.co.uk where you can learn more about Monologue Slam, TFSFF or indeed one of their fabulous Welcome parties. TriForce has had a long journey to reach this stage and it is now marking its territory in the media world. With the Hollywood style boom of the big screen visuals and the supportive humour of Jimmy Akinbola or Chizzy Akudolu they are not likely to have any competition for a long time yet.
Text by Karsten Huttenhain