Top Tips From the South West’s Freshest Film Talent

Imo Downes headed to the BFI Film Academy showcase to nick some knowledge from the best in the filmmaking business for you

The South West is brimming with hot to trot filmmakers – from Aardman Studios to Encounters Film Festival, we’ve got it all.

On Saturday, we invited a bunch of the best of them to share their knowledge with BFI Film Academy alumni at the BFI Film Academy Showcase, South West.There were a series of talks with the best of the biz, and a screening of the fantastic films the alumni have created throughout the course. Bristol Old Vic Theatre SchoolPlymouth College of ArtWhite Lantern FilmSomerset Film and Watershed all supported the making of the series of short films.

In between all that, we caught up with industry head honchos and BFI-ers alike, and grabbed their top tips for all you budding filmmakers out there.

Mindell Bowen – Animation Producer and PM, Aardman Animations

‘If you’re gonna be in this business, passion is the thing you must have. Remain passionate and know that whatever you work on will be better and better each time.’

Ciara Hillyer – Digital Content Creator

‘Don’t rush your work. No one else is going to create it, so take your time.’

Sarah Mosses – CEO, Together Films

‘What are the top festivals in your genre? You cannot exist in film unless you attend festivals. If you who live in Bristol, you should be coming to Encounters every year. You need to know the new trends coming forward.’

Theo Watkins – Filmmaker

‘Focus on the filmmaking craft, don’t get distracted by other little things like the politics and the emotions and rejection. Just focus on your own craft.’

Aaron Paul – Executive Producer, writer and CEO, Rebel Television

‘There’s no real set route, but one thing that’s really, really helped me is the ability to write. And that’s not just writing a movie script – it’s how to say what you really need to in as few words as possible.’

Jon Aitken – Video Editor and Rife Magazine alumnus

‘Stop waiting and just do it.  Don’t wait for anyone else to give you the opportunity and don’t be scared. Nobody’s confident when they’re just starting out. You just need to get past that and go and do whatever it is that you want to do.’

Kate Herron – Writer and Director

‘Remember that everything you’re seeing on social media is like a shop window, and it’s not someone’s whole life. So you keep seeing people post about successes – that’s not necessarily what’s going on.

Build a network and a community that you can make stuff with. It’s way better to have five people on set that really wanna be there, than fifteen people you’re begging and really wanna go home.’

Laylah Silver – BFI Film Academy Student

‘Time management is really, really important because it reflects your work ethic and makes you seem more employable and more reliable. Be on time!’

Alexie Segal – Filmmaker and Rife Magazine alumnus

‘Keep on creating videos and films and coming up with new ideas and just go out and make them. It doesn’t have to be polished, but the more you make the better you will become. Also remember that shit audio and good video equals a bad film, good audio and shit quality video still makes a good film!’

Dan Rybacki – BFI Film Academy Student

‘Try new roles that you maybe haven’t done before. It can be uncomfortable but that’s how you gain new skills. Courses like BFI Film Academy are a great environment to do it.’

Euella Jackson – Digital Content Creator and Rife Magazine alumnus

‘Don’t underestimate pre-production. It’s really important. You’ve got to make sure you have everything in place – your camera, your kit, your crew, your research to actually make sure that your film makes sense. It’s something that you forget about in light of the shoot day, but the shoot day is probably the least important thing out of everything. It’s more about your pre-production and your post-production.’

Alba Gracie – BFI Film Academy Student

‘Make sure you have really good sound quality. Even if the sound recording device you have isn’t very good, try to do it in a space where there’s not going to be any reverb or echoes. Try not to get any background noises – if you do want to include a bus or something like that, do it in post-production.’

Freya Billington – Programme Leader, UWE_Film

‘Make the most of opportunities like this! Everyone in this room is a potential collaborator. If you’re just starting out, be open to all possibilities and keep trying new things, there are so many opportunities to work in the film industry, beyond the role of the Director.’

Rich Warren – Festival Director, Encounters

‘The overarching thing that links all the filmmakers that do well on the festival circuit is that they have an understanding that they’re not wherever it is they’re going to yet. They’re on a journey. Anything you’re working on now is not the end result.’

Chloe Collins-Cole – BFI Film Academy Student

‘Make sure you go to as many networking events as possible because networking is pretty much the key for meeting people in different industries. Always have a little black book on you to put down contact names and numbers.’

Richard Hinton – Sound Editor and Foley Artist, Films@59

‘Custard powder makes great snow.’

Now you’ve had that hit of inspiration, grab your kit, go out there, and get making! Are you 16-19? Passionate about film? Want a career in the film industry? BFI Academy wants you! Check out their awesome courses here. All photos by Alexie Segal