Last Saturday afternoon, as part of the BFI London Film Festival, Collabor8te hosted ‘Short Cuts to Bigger Pictures’; a screening and panel discussion exploring how aspiring filmmakers can move on from shorts to feature length films. Three directors who began making shorts and have now moved into the world of features presented work which helped them with this transition. The discussion allowed them to talk through this process, and consider the events which led them to the making of their first feature. They each have a feature film as part of the London Film Festival’s official selction: The Comedian directed by Tom Shkolnik, Spike Island directed by Mat Whitecross, and Good Vibrations directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn.

The screening opened with Tom Shkolnik’s Headphones, a naturalistically filmed piece following the events that occur after a psychology student is accosted and mugged by an aggressive youth as he walks home. The 18th Electricity Plan, directed by Lisa Barros D’sa and Glenn Leyburn was the second film screened. A surreal, black and white film set in a sinister society hinting at themes seen in George Orwell’s 1984 and of which some elements were reminiscent of a René Magritte painting crossed with film noir. Finally was Mat Whitecross’ Job Street; following a day in the lives of three immigrant men desperate for work; a raw and gritty piece of film presenting a seedy and corrupt environment that these three struggle to make sense of.

The panel discussion allowed each of these directors to impart what they learnt from making short films as well as when they made the jump to making feature films. Each of them talked about the daunting task of putting yourself and your filmmaking out there. Both Tom and Mat spoke about the claims big production companies make, declaring you’re the next big thing only for you to realise they most likely say this to each hopeful that walks through their door.

All four emphasised the importance of surrounding yourself with experienced producers and directors in order to learn from them and also build up a network of contacts; Mat (director of Job Street) for example worked alongside Michael Winterbottom as an editor. By doing this they all agreed that you enable yourself with a professional audience who can view your work and give sound advice as well as putting you in touch with those who can further your career. Tom and Mat encouraged the continuing of working on personal projects, combining that with working alongside others in order to keep developing your filmmaking; and as Mat says, ‘you’ve got to have projects for people to make’.

Affiliating yourself with those within the industry, networking and collaborating on projects were all key points made by each of the directors, with Tom stressing the importance that you ‘just keep going!’ Lisa and Glenn talked of the significance of being confident and dedicated when starting out and Lisa stresses how you should always try to surround yourself with ‘talented people who share your vision’. Each director also highlighted the huge difference between the making of short films in which you have complete creative control to when taking on bigger budgets, casts and crews.

Getting your work, and indeed yourself as an ambitious director, out there are paramount to prosperity in the film industry. Of these four their first feature films have boasted impressive talent including the likes of Andy Serkis, Nathan Stewart Jarrett, Robert Sheehan, and Rupert Grint. By continuing to work on projects and taking on all these elements these four have gained the success they deserve.

Collabor8te’s call for short film scripts is currently open. Supported by Nokia Lumia, Collabor8te will commission 8 short films with budgets up to £10,000 in 2013. Script deadline: 30th November 2012.

 

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