“In order to have my short considered for BFI funding, I had to submit an application to Emily Kyriakides, Programme Producer at Lighthouse who, working in partnership with Neon Films’ Nicky Bentham and independent development producer Becca Ellson, is running this years scheme. This included a short bio, script and my vision as director of the project, along with some info from my long term producer Michael Berliner. When we made the long list, we had to go in for an interview with the Lighthouse team; from there, I made the short list and had to attend a development workshop with the awesome Kate Leys, and further develop the script with BBC script editor Paul Ashton before final submission.When I got the call that I had been selected, I literally screamed with joy about every four minutes for the rest of that evening.
“The funding will allow me to be a little more ambitious and really push my vision. In the past I have made short films with smaller budgets, but this will allow me to make a longer film and push the action along with the aesthetics. I hope having the BFI involved will also attract a known cast where applicable, which is a big help.
‘Having the support of the BFI is amazing; it’s so much more then just funding. Having been selected from over 1,000 applicants as one of the top upcoming British filmmakers to watch out for, is a massive seal of approval from some of the most experienced and talented people in the industry.It also means guidance, development and support in helping me bridge the gap to feature filmmaking.
“Initiatives like BFI Shorts and Guiding Lights, along with B3 Media, Creative England and other regional film bodies, are vital in helping find, nurture and support the best in British upcoming and established talent. The British film industry depends on it. We need to be able to give audiences more choice along with strong voices from a social perspective, who are representative of modern Britain. And, lets face it, most of us are not born into filmmaking nor can afford what can be an expensive passion. Guiding Lights, for example, is a very important scheme allowing filmmakers like myself access to the very best working British filmmakers of today, and first hand experience of working within independent and studio structures that many of us wouldn’t get. For me, writer/ director Paul Andrew Williams (Song For Marion) has been a brilliant mentor and has also become a good friend through the experience. I owe him a particular debt of gratitude for taking me under his wing.
“As a filmmaker, it’s great to see that organisations like the BFI are so committed to helping drive industry growth, as well as building audiences and a vibrant British film culture. When it comes to the BFI’s five year plan, I am particularly excited about the prospect of film education for every 5 – 19 year old – that could potentially create the next Edgar Wright or Andrea Arnold; something I didn’t have growing up!
“The BFI’s commitment to making films for younger and family friendly audiences is also fantastic! In the past I have felt there has been an unfair balance with the films that were supported; it felt like art house films were given prominence over more fun independent mainstream films, which I believe limited choice for wider audiences. With the success of films like Attack the Block and The Inbetweeners, there is no reason why we can’t make high-end, fun genre films that are also meaningful.
“My advice to filmmakers looking to work with the BFI and other funding bodies would be to be bold in your vision, and build on your previous work. Be yourself and don’t try to imitate anybody else. Make the films you want to. Don’t be afraid to be pigeonholed in a genre if it’s what you love to make. Play to your strengths. Learn. Build a strong team around you and, above all else, keep making good films!”