"The most important thing was working with brilliant people." - Previous winner Adam Castle on making it as a creative freelancer

15 November 2022

Adam Castle has an impressive CV that spans filmmaking, curating, producing and performing. It's no surprise that he won the Creative Edinburgh Leadership Award back in 2016.

As the founder and director of Pollyanna queer arts company and Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival (EAMIF), he has certainly made a mark on the creative scene here. It was a pleasure to catch up with him and find out what he's been up to since winning, and the advice he has to share with artists following in his footsteps.

CE: Tell us a bit about your creative practice. How did you get started?

Adam: I am a producer and artist. I direct Pollyanna queer arts company and Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival (EAMIF), and I also produce artist’s films and cabaret performances. The most important thing for getting started was working together with brilliant people, as both Pollyanna and EAMIF would not have been possible without close collaboration with other creatives.

CE: What have you been up to since winning a Creative Edinburgh Award?

Adam: The programmes of Pollyanna and EAMIF have continued, including year round events with EAMIF such as screenings of AIDS activist musicals and supporting the development of new performance work from multiple artists in Scotland with Pollyanna. Alongside this I have taken these experiences to working freelance delivering festivals and exhibitions across Scotland and UK.

CE: What do you think are the best things about being a creative in Edinburgh?

Adam: There is a great network of creatives that can lead to very supportive collaboration, not only between individual creatives but also the great arts organisations and venues in the city. For example for both EAMIF and Pollyanna we have worked with Fruitmarket on a number of events, that also worked with other partners in the city.

CE: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in film-making, producing or performing?

Adam: The hard thing in the arts is at the beginning you often have to work with low or no budgets. Usually, you will need to have something under your belt before you step-up your budgets. But rather than volunteering for other people’s projects, try to run your own. Firstly, find other people to collaborate with. This could be through your networks, or Facebook groups have worked very well in the past to connect with new people to work with. Secondly, do the most with what you have available but do not make it cost you. So set up a simple event (maybe online), or make a very short film on your phone or perform at an open mic night. Make sure that you are not losing money by spending money on it or eating out of time where you can be working paid jobs. Don’t do things for ‘exposure’, only do things that will actually help you learn something or improve your portfolio of practice. Once you have something under your belt you will be in a better position to secure funding and paid work and projects.

"Don’t do things for ‘exposure’, only do things that will actually help you learn something or improve your portfolio of practice."

CE: What are you up to next? Do you have any exciting projects to share?

Adam: Pollyanna is working with Bliind Studios and Creative Informatics, University of Edinburgh to develop new technology to create interactive cabaret videos. In a gallery setting audiences will be able to impact what happens on screen using their voice. This is something very new for Pollyanna, and I’m looking forward to working in this different way, blending performance, art and technology.