Jamie Starboisky founded the Queer Media Festival in Manchester, England in 2013 as a celebration of queer storytelling in every form of media through in-conversations with queer media professionals, short films, performances and workshops. The idea came to him whilst at TEDx Salford watching the inspiring talk by author Joanne Harris who explained “we are all made of stories”. In November 2019 the sixth edition of the festival was held, for the fourth time, at HOME, Manchester’s £25 million combined arts venue.
Jamie is currently exploring the use and impact of mobile filmmaking, interactive transmedia storytelling and virtual reality in bringing the international queer community together. Jamie believes through utilising this technology to tell our stories we can ultimately change the world one story at a time.
2017 was the final year of his Broadcast Journalism degree at the University of Salford and featured below are some examples of his work and projects that he has produced during his time at university. Also check out this link to watch his video work from short films to news packages. He has previously graduated with a Foundation degree in Journalism from the University of the Arts London. He has followed his passion for digital, journalism and short form content through working as a Web Editor for Sky News and the Metro Online.
The first Queer Media Festival was held in the Digital Performance Lab, at the University of Salford on Friday 7th February 2014 and was a series of in-conversations with queer media professionals, short films and performances. To read the Storify article from the 2014 festival check out this link. Following the success of his first festival Jamie was offered a summer internship with Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBTQ film festival in their Development and Legacy Project departments. He also was also accepted to study LGBTQ Studies at the summer school of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He was generously supported over his three month stay in Los Angeles by the Santander International Travel Bursary from the University of Salford. Following his return from the USA a new event called Fusion was produced by Jamie in collaboration with UK Black Pride. It was curated in the same format as the Queer Media Festival to celebrate queer black, Asian, and ethnic minorities stories in all mediums with in-conversations and film screenings.
The following year the Queer Media Festival was held as part of Queer Contact at the Contact Theatre in Manchester continuing the format of in-conversations, films and performances.
The finale to the Queer Media Festival 2015 was a specially commissioned queer themed TV news magazine show called Queer Agenda, which Jamie invented based on the format of Quays News that he had worked on whilst at university. The episode included TV news packages, live studio interviews and a performance, all curated in the lead up to the recording by Jamie. The show was then produced by fellow journalism student Penny James on the same day as the festival. After filming, the file for the show was transferred over electronically to Jamie at the Contact Theatre ready to be screened later that afternoon. To read the Storify article from the 2015 festival follow this link.
To celebrate Manchester Pride in August 2015 Jamie commissioned a second episode of Queer Agenda using the same TV format he brought in TV presenters, filmed news packages and produced the show on the day to be uploaded to the Queer Media YouTube channel ready for Pride.
There was a behind the scenes short documentary film made during the first episode of Queer Agenda and this was successfully entered into two film festivals in the USA.
After being invited by Political Pride to screen queer films during August’s Manchester Pride Jamie looked to broaden the Queer Media brand to include events outside the annual festival. He created Queer Story Showcase which would become his pop-up event cinema evening with the aim of including a mix of queer stories told through films, Q&A sessions, poetry readings or spoken word. Ultimately giving the opportunity for more short films to be seen and to expand his events to now include screening feature films. With his background in journalism Jamie chose to screen the documentary film Dressed As A Girl, holding the event at the Digital Performance Lab, the Queer Media Festival’s first venue.
The evening was called Queer Story Showcase – I Love The Nightlife with all the films screened themed around going out, partying, clubbing and enjoying or not the gay scene. The Q&A panel after the films had people with knowledge of queer nightlife with drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous, author of Life After Dark Dave Haslam, and producer of Dressed As A Girl, Chris Amos discussing their experiences facilitated by VADA magazine editor, poet and performer Adam Lowe.
In November 2015 Jamie produced MobDoc as part of the Salford International Media Festival to focus on the growing trend of mobile journalism. He organised an in-conversation facilitated by University of Salford lecturer Andrew Fletcher with mobile journalist Imran Asam, and BBC video journalist trainer Mark Egan. In the afternoon followed a workshop with Mark to teach participants how to use their mobile phones to create films.
The mobile filmmaking workshop was a big success with as you can see in the video over 30 young people took part in the afternoon’s activities. The session focused on learning the language of film and getting to grips with different phones and their apps. Jamie has held MobDoc workshops since then in Dublin and Cardiff to teach queer storytelling using mobile phones, in collaboration with Deirdre Mulcahy, a former camera operator and BBC mobile filmmaking tutor. Also in 2015 the University of Salford marked Transgender Day of Remembrance with activities, workshops and film screenings organised by Jamie as part of his Queer Media work.
As a growing creative producer in the field of queer work Jamie was successful in November 2015 in achieving a bursary through Creative Skillset to attend the Stonewall Creative Leadership course in London. The two day intensive course developed by LGBTQ civil rights group Stonewall, was aimed at developing the skills and mindset of LGBTQ who worked in the creative sector to be authentic LGBTQ leaders in their work. The event was a useful and productive time out for Jamie to reflect back on his achievements amongst his peers and develop the vital network of like-minded professionals to encourage his journey forwards.
In March 2016 Jamie, through his pop-up event cinema evening Queer Story Showcase collaborated with Manchester Metropolitan University to create ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ featuring films and a Q&A panel. ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ was one of a variety of SEX theme events that MMU ran from January to March 2016 and illustrated and questioned the extent to which our sexual identities affect our interpretation and experience of the world. Jamie introduced a series of short films and then screened documentary ChemSex, about the growing phenomenon of gay men taking drugs to enjoy sex. The evening ended with a Q&A panel that included MMU academics who had researched shame and stigma, and health professionals from London and Manchester who provide support to those involved in chemsex. Follow this link to read a review of the event.
Jamie was also invited to speak at MMU by Dr. Jon Binnie from the School of Science and Environment and Dr. Christian Klesse from the Department of Sociology. They had convened the Queer Film Festivals as Activism: An International Symposium and Jamie was one of many international speakers discussing Queer Media in the context of international social activism.
In 2016 Jamie achieved his first major funding from the BFI Film Audience funds (supported by National Lottery), via BFI Film Hub North West Central. The funding was for an initiative Jamie had developed which would be a workshop for young people aged 18-25. The aim was to learn different approaches to queer film programming, the challenges involved, how to programme for different audiences and discuss what would and would not get programmed. The workshop was held at the Digital Performance Lab, at the University of Salford MediaCityUK and included guest speakers Michael Blyth (BFI Flare, London), Jay Bernard (BFI Flare, London), Berwyn Rowlands (Iris Prize, Cardiff), Dagmar Brunow (Hamburg Queer Film Festival). Following the training Jamie worked with the young people from the workshop to programme films for further Queer Story Showcase events, and also the 2016 edition of the Queer Media Festival. Click on this link to read a review from one of the young people who participated in the workshop.
Queer film festivals such as GAZE International LGBTQ Film Festival in Dublin were initially founded upon a radicalism that aimed to combat the under-representation of queer communities on screen. To discuss this at GAZE Jamie was flown over in July 2016 to be a guest on their panel to discuss the relevance of queer film festivals in society, and how they may continue to develop and connect with their audience. The panel was held in collaboration with the Queer Film Network was chaired by Berwyn Rowlands (Iris Prize, Cardiff) with Helen Wright (Scottish International Queer Film Festival) and Thersea Heath-Ellul (Wotever DIY Film Festival, London).
After attending Mojocon in Dublin in 2016 Jamie spoke on a panel at the event the following year (see video below). He is still very much interested in the future of mobile filmmaking, and in 2016 received a grant to investigate this by Superbia. Superbia Grants provide financial support for queer events as part of Manchester Pride’s commitment to the quality and diversity of cultural events taking place throughout the year in Greater Manchester.
Jamie spoke on the panel at Mojocon – the mobile filmmaking conference in Galway in May 2017 – that was chaired by BBC journalist Nick Garnett, about the importance of the queer community using mobile filmmaking to tell their own story. Check out Jamie’s behind the scenes interview at the conference also published on Irish broadcaster RTÉ’s website.
In 2016 and 2017 Jamie continued his work organising MobDoc workshops to teach queer filmmaking using mobile phones. He challenged participants who started with no skill or prior knowledge to make a 60 second queer themed film. Below is an example created by transgender theatre maker and performer Kate O’Donnell, after attending Jamie’s mobile filmmaking workshop, that was used in the recent United Nations Sustained Development Goals Action Campaign.
The Queer Media Festival returned in the autumn of 2017 featuring an amazing showstopping drag hosted Queer Corrie Spectacular event. In that same year Jamie worked with Manchester International Festival as a mentee on their digital training programme Creative 50, where Jamie created his first artist film as part of the group collaboration the Mary Burns Installation. In 2018 Jamie was invited to join Iris Prize LGBTQ Festival in Cardiff as a member of their Best of British Jury, to help decide the winner of their much coveted international LGBTQ short film award.
In 2018 Jamie began the research and development of his first virtual reality story – Therese & Peta: A Tale of Two-Spirits – during his artist residency at the Immersive Storytelling Studio at the National Theatre, London. In 2019 this story was one of only 20 virtual reality projects awarded Creative XR prototype funding from the Arts Council distributed by Digital Catapult. In 2020 this project was selected by Sheffield Documentary Festival for their Alternate Realities Talent Market, which is a pitching opportunity with industry decision makers.