Yesterday was the first day of the 5th BFI Future Film Festival. If you don’t already know what this festival entails it’s two fun filled days of workshops, networking opportunities, Q&A sessions and film screenings. The programme is designed to help young people develop their film making (or acting) skills further and provide an interesting insider’s look into to the industry.
My day began with a BBFC master class, run by Lucy Brett, an examiner for the British Board of Film Classification. She really engaged the audience, showing us clips and getting us to discuss a suitable classification for them.
Prior to the session, I hadn’t quite grasped the importance of the BBFC. One part of what they do is to protect the film industry as well being mindful of the legal obligation they have to audiences. Imagine, there are some groups who are campaigning for every film that contains smoking to be an 18, undoubtedly this would never happen. The BBFC realise that by doing this the film industry would cease to exist!!
Amazingly, in 2011 out of all 721 films the BBFC certified there were only 2 rejections, The Human Centipede’s sequel and a film called The Bunny Game. The Bunny game was very violent and was considered to be verging on rape pornography, it was deemed to be potentially harmful to society, so to protect the audiences, the BBFC rejected the film. The Bunny Game was the 13th film the Board had rejected. The BBFC also make sure the film-makers aren’t prosecuted for breaking any obscenity laws.
In contrast to the dark over 18 films we discussed, the BBFC also had to deal with a problematic film which was aimed at a younger audience. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight received over 400 complaints when it opened in cinemas. The film’s opening sequence epitomises all the controversy over the films certificate. It contains lots of glorified violence which is almost presented as some sort of cool game and I completely understand that for a 12 year old, the relentlessness of it could be a bit overwhelming. However, the film was able to maintain it’s 12a certificate with no cuts made. Even the shocking pencil trick was kept in because the film did not dwell on the violence and it was bloodless. The session was really interesting and I left feeling informed and up to date with the UK’s film certification.
I then went to a short Blogging workshop run by http://permanentplastichelmet.com/‘s Ashley Clark. Although I had to rush off to my next session halfway through, he covered alot of ground. He discussed the importance of establishing your own voice and to be successful the best thing to do is take your own approach to things, even if it means going against the grain sometimes. After the session I realised there is no need for me to compromise my opinions when writing about films and that as long as I can substantiate any negativity, it’s fine. We were also given a big tip, that when writing a review, never read someone else’s before hand because it can warp your views of said film.
After a short break, I went to another BAFTA film session. It was a Q&A with three BAFTA nominated short film makers, led by producer Lisa Bryer. Each of the filmmakers told us about their path to filmmaking and the struggles they faced during the process of making their films/animations. The main things I took away from what the three of them were saying were the importance of a good sound designer and the best way to capture your audiences attention and get them hooked is to think of your short as a ball of string. At first it should be all wound up but after the first minute it will unravel. Abuelas is one of the short films that was screened after the Q&A session. It was all done using stop-motion animation and I think it is really hooks the audience into watching the tear-jerking short film.
The final session I went to was about mastering the art of production. It was led by Lisa Bryer who is a woman who really knows her stuff, having worked on great films such as Goodbye Charlie Bright, The Hole and The Last King of Scotland. She is also one of the founders of Cowboy Films alongside Tim Pope. Cowboy films is a company set up to produce ads and promotional videos but then moved into making features.
Lisa worked as the producer on most of The Cure videos. She also has produced videos for well known companies such as this memorable advert for Carling’s Black Label I will follow this up with a post all about Lisa and her route into the industry.
Lisa explained to us what she thinks makes a good producer, she said as a producer you have to never give up, just keep on going and making sure everything falls into place. She said that timing is crucial and for something to work, the timing just has to be right. Another important thing Lisa talked about was having to delegate roles. As a producer you have to find people who are trustworthy and talented enough for projects and then allow them to get on with their job. It is not your vision you are just a facilitator and an organiser.
Overall, the film festival was really enjoyable and I feel I got a lot out of it.