Cannes in a Van asks the simple question "Why can't a film festival be mobile?" and answers it in inimitable fashion. Ahead of the first of their new series of music vs. film events at The Book Club, Screen Social, Andy talks The 405 through a few details...well, rather a lot of details.

How did Cannes in a Van originate?

As many of the simplest and perhaps most unlikely ideas to reach reality are, it was conceived one drunken night while having a conversation about taking some of the independent films we were screening at The 100 Club in London, to the Cannes Film Festival... in a van. A concept was born and the name had a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about it. Cannes in a Van seemed like it just had to happen. We like the idea of giving these indie filmmakers a platform on the biggest stage that they may never have and wondering 'what if?' we could change someone's perception about short film, cinema or what was possible.

Screen Social and the entire concept behind Cannes In A Van seems to be about honest-to-goodness exposure, cutting out the middle man - how important do you feel it is to take indie films out on road away from Youtube/Facebook etc?

As new generations are born into online social culture, it will ultimately be intuitive and therefore eventually ordinary and boring. People will, as they are already, gravitate towards 'real' experiences which can incorporate their online interests. Either that or noone will ever go out again and we will become a nation of obese app-addicted online geeks who can't communicate except through the medium of 'words with friends'.

Well, that won't happen, but the point about taking film out of the usual dark room with rows of seats is to question the way we consume film and more currently – 'content'. Traditional cinema is great, it's amazing, can be life-changing and very personal, but it doesn't have to JUST be that way. There is always a slight contradiction in going to the cinema with friends. Obviously the most meaningful cinematic experiences are solitary, but the idea that cinema is a 'social' experience is maybe a little optimistic – 'Social-Lite', maybe. What I've always enjoyed the idea of is an environment which can be engaging and powerful, but also somewhere you can talk and still be aware of what's happening.

The night I ran at The 100 Club from 2004-2006 was ShallowShorts and it was more of a 'jazz-club' vibe with 2 screens playing simultaneously. Cannes in a Van takes the alternative viewing experience to people rather than the other way round. It invites people in the street to stop by for a glass of warm rosé and catch a short or five. It's brilliant that so many indie films can find an audience now via Vimeo / YouTube / Facebook, and we're actively encouraging that by screening almost 90% digital downloads at Screen Social and we also have a 'Film Freestyle' section where people can turn up on the night and give us a Vimeo link to their film which we will screen 'unseen'. It's a way for people to see live reaction to their online films.

How do you feel about the state of British independent film currently?

It's strong. Really strong, and there are many innovative ways people are making their films. Funding has opened up with crowd-platforms (we'll be one of the first projects on new British start-up and people realise you can get the kit and make something really cheaply, as long as the idea is there in the first place. I do worry though that all the creativity openly out there can fall into hungry less-imaginative hands and some things do get plagiarised, which is a shame. Through history, there has always been art influencing art, but so much original content has never been available to so many so often until now.

It's inevitable that some exceptional work which has taken months to create, will be 'reimagined' by a team of people in a tenth of the time. Other than that, I think Brit indie film is strong and you can see that reflected in more and more big studio-backed 'risk' movies. I'm glad things seem to be changing for everyone. There is so much talent on our doorstep. People just need a bit of cash so they can spend the time on creating great work. Check out IndywoodFilms for a real independent funding model - we'll be seeing the guy behind it at the Wed 15 Feb Screen Social.

One of your mottos is 'bringing film to the people' - to what extent do you think the A-list festivals perpetuate a cultural elitism?

I think all industries suffer from it, but I guess film festivals are the ultimate. The thing about film, is it's escapism for the normal person. That's the point of it. People like to live through the eyes of someone else for two hours. It's why entertainment was invented... so we had something to DO. I think to 'protect' film as an art form is wrong and to alienate the people who will ultimately prove its success or failure is misguided too, but what we do is just simple – we take films that those people don't see, and try and get them to take an interest.

The way you screen films is quite unconventional - how important do you think the space one watches a film is to the overall experience? And how would you like to develop the way you screen films?

I think I may have kind of answered this already, but the space is important because it creates a unique experience of that film or content. If you watch a movie in a cold, uncomfortable theatre, you're unlikely to lose yourself in it, but equally, if you can have a few drinks and chat to some mates while checking out videos and films you'd never find online, then you'll come away with a smile on your face and maybe a reminder to check out that director.

Now, finally attitudes to short-form film, video and animation are changing (largely because of the familiarity of the genre online) it makes things like Screen Social a concept that people understand. We're taking a load of great work from indie directors and animators, together with production company work and motion designers, and putting it all together with live bands and DJs in one space. We're taking this concept and playing with it to see what works best. We'll be hosting a night in Brighton in the next few months and taking the 'playlist' to other places soon. Our aim is to have a great online presence for Screen Social too, which we'll be working on soon. This will give every director, designer, filmmaker we feature a further online promotional platform.

What is the biggest challenge facing the survival of Cannes in a Van?

The biggest challenge facing us is resources. We need people to volunteer, companies to sponsor us (we have a unique international platform in Cannes which always garners press attention) and funding. This year I can't finance Cannes in a Van as I've tried to do for the last few years. We're a different kind of festival. We have different running costs and we don't fit in to traditional funding categories so it's hard for people to categorize us. That means we're in need more than ever of help, funds and support.

What's the single weirdest thing that's happened to you on the road? And the one that made you certain you were doing the right thing?

Weirdest thing? Here's a few. We had London Tonight come and film our first ever night in 2007 before we even knew what we were doing, drove in from Antibes with the pregnant presenter in the pitch black back of the van. We gave nine dutch school band members a lift home one night after their bus broke down. We had a Cannes in a Van ninja the first year, who ran up and down the Croisette in full ninja gear with face covered, throwing flyers at people. A drunk woman in our audience threw up all over the place and an ambulance came to pick her up - we thought we were gone for good. There are generally a lot of weird people we encounter, it's hard to remember them all.

I know it's the right thing when people are supportive. From film industry people, to British tourists, to young first-time filmmakers, to celebrities, to people from all over the world who turn up wanting to screen their films. I think if we can show we believe in someone by screening their film in Cannes, it might help them believe in themselves that little bit more and maybe go on to make something incredible in the future. That's what we're doing with our Van d'Or Awards for independent film – giving films a chance to be recognised in a grass roots way and encouraging them on to win much better awards than ours! One last point about 'the right thing'... we screened a couple of shorts by a young filmmaker called Alex Barrett over the years. He recently completed and screened his debut feature 'Life Just Is'. That's when it makes sense.

What's the best way for people to help support the project?

There are a few ways to support Cannes in a Van - we need help (volunteer to help via, we need funds (come to Screen Social and /or donate via Paypal), enter your film for CiaV 2012 - eligible for The Van d'Or Awards (we HAVE to charge for entry this year whereas we never have in the past), spread the word by following us @cannesinavan @screensocial and 'LIKE' us and Screen Social The last thing I should say is you'll be able to support us in return for rewards very soon on (link to come).

Where would you like Cannes In A Van to be in 2 years time?

Still going hopefully. If we make it through this year, we should be back, but this is the tough one. I have plans to take it on the road in the UK in the form of Cannes in a Van: Film in Transit, and we're talking about taking films around the world to under-served areas, filming the journey and everything that goes with it. We'd love to have a sponsor secured by then too to keep the dreams of independent filmmakers alive and screening at Cannes... even if it is from the back of a van.

Screen Social takes place at The Book Club tomorrow!