Friday, 27 September 2013

(23) Encounters: Film Industry Road Map, Panel Discussion

Watershed. Bristol, UK. (Picture from:
From September 17 till September 22 Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival took place in Bristol, UK. This year I didn't have a chance to attend any of the screenings, however thanks to the IdeasTap I had an opportunity to attend "The Business: Film Industry Road Map Panel Discussion" on September 18, at  the Watershed, Bristol. This was the first of that kind of discussion that I have attended, and being a skeptical person, my hopes weren't high. Obviously, they won't give you a magical formula how to break your way into the film industry, but I must admit they gave some darn good advises, and I am glad that I had a chance to attend this discussion. Therefore, I decided to share some of these advises.

But first things first, who were the panellists you are asking? The panel consisted of four very talented and hard working people and it was hosted by two members of the IdeasTap. The first and the youngest one of panellists was Rob Savage, "multi-award winning writer/director", who recently with his feature film Strings won a British Independent Film Award. One of his latest works include a music video for Dear Reader's "Took Them Away", you can watch it here. The second was Henry Beattie, who is an Acquisitions Consultant at Transmission Films, he also works in a creative development role at London based production company Montebello Productions. The third was Madeleine Probst, who is a Programme Producer at the Watershed, where the event took place. And the last, but not the least, was Gavin Humphries, who is a Producer at Quark Films. The panel discussion was hosted by Will Davies, responsible for the IdeasTap Spa (Spa as in career advice and events), and Laura McFarlane, partnership manager at the IdeasTap. They all come from different walks of life and it amazed me how many different jobs and things they have done before they got the jobs in which they are working now. Well except for Rob, who already at the age of 18 wrote, directed, shot, co-produced and edited feature film Strings, which is quite an admirable achievement.

One of the first tips they gave to the filmmakers was [#1] do your research. As in, before you approach someone with your CV, or ask to screen or distribute your film, do research and see whether the company you are getting in touch with will be interested in your product. For example, if I don't like chocolate with nuts, don't come offering me chocolate with nuts, because I will turn you down without thinking twice about it. Next, and it might seem the most obvious advice, although I would say that it is the hardest one and most time consuming of all advises: [#2] build your network. And when you meet someone somewhere and you get his or her card, don't forget about the [#3] follow up. Remind them who you are, that you are the person from the last day's party, conference or whatever. If you have aroused their interest once, don't let them forget about you. Most probably thanks to your network and connections, you will also get your first experience in your desired occupation. Remember, [#4] experience is more important than education. When watching a film and enjoying its soundtrack, script or the way it was directed, write it down, try and get in touch accordingly with the author of the script or composer or director, [#5] find your mentor. Mentors usually will help you also with building your network and gain some experience. [#6] Deliver your work on time. Don't start making up excuses why you are late, why you couldn't finish your work, just finish it, deliver it, go through with it, don't half arsed do something, do it. If somebody isn't fully happy with your idea, try and adjust it to what they want. Adjusting doesn't mean losing your own idea, it's just means being flexible and showing how creative you can be. Last but not least, [#7] always keep at least two other ideas in your pocket, if they don't like one, offer the next one.

Remember, as Madeleine Probst noted, instead of calling mistakes mistakes, call them breakthroughs. Even with a mistake you have achieved something, you have learned something new.

Finally, at the end of the discussion I asked: "How do you joggle between a full time job and get your first experience in film industry (which usually is unpaid, but it is necessary to eat and pay bills)?" The answer being: work hard, and if you are doing that, work even harder. So go out there and start working hard to prove yourself! Nothing comes easy, and the only way to get something you desire is hard work.

Good luck!

*This is the author's of the article interpretation/perception of the panel discussion, the panellists or attendees aren't directly quoted.

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