Writers' Blog

17th February 2010

There's one word on my mind as I think of what I need to write today: REJECTION.

Essentially, no matter what people tell you, rejection is the real backbone of the Film Industry. And it comes in many different guises. For me, one of my struggles of late has been getting work in the industry. I know people in the industry; I worked as a film courier for four months on a feature film in Malta. I'm a First Class Graduate who has worked tirelessly both in and out of education to forward my career in the Film Industry and make my own short films. And this, coupled with a CV that shows I have also supported myself in full-time bar and restaurant work throughout University gets me... nowhere. Not even a reply to my applications for menial, trivial jobs that let's face it, a monkey could do - if a monkey were to make a good cup of tea that is. But you get what I mean. I couldn't even get UNPAID work experience that I could never really afford to do anyway, at the BBC.

The next form of rejection is Film Festivals. Most specifically, Film Festivals you have to pay for. Being proud, as I like to be for a time about my Graduate film 'The Hunt' I paid £140, more even, to send it to every Festival that I thought might appreciate it. I paid close attention to Festivals that had Student categories and didn't shoot for the moon in so far as I felt I had a realistic chance at each Festival. But while I didn't shoot for the moon, I still got shot.

I think of the twenty something Festivals I sent the film to I might have got three, maybe four screenings. And they went well I hear (I was off travelling at the time). The film even got an 'Audience Choice Award' at the Winchester Film Festival. Of course this isn't aided by the fact that I only found out about that from a local MP's Twitter - the Festival organiser was most unresponsive when I asked how the awards had gone. But yes, now I'm rambling. My point is, that yesterday I was rejected from yet another Festival and the time has come now to think about where I'm going next.

I'm doing my MA and my project will be based around Mockumentaries so that will be fun. And it's time I did something new. I've been on hiatus a while, I've had a trip away and it's time to get my creative juices flowing again. Am I gutted that my Graduate Film didn't do better than I hoped it would? Of course I am. Am I similarly gutted that I keep hitting brick walls when I try to get an industry job? Well, yeah I am. And is that going to stop me from pursuing my career in film? Is it going to stop me making films? No.

And neither should it stop you.

10th February 2010

Firstly, it's important to note that I've called this 'Writers Blog' because I thought it was clever (Writers Block?) - I DO NOT consider myself a film writer. Having said that, I do write films. Confused? Me too.

In my years of making films I have discovered just one thing (actually, not JUST one - but one very important thing). As in any creative profession, no one is going to go out there and do any work for you - you have to do it yourself. Now I don't mean (because, I hate it when people do this) that you should write, direct, produce, shoot, edit and star in your own films. You can't do everything. But you have got to do something.

What I've had to do is write all of my own films. Not because I'm an egomaniac who wants my name all over the credits and not because I think I'm a good writer but because no one is going to write films for me. That may not be the case for the rest of you. Perhaps you are living my dream of moving into halls and discovering your new flatmate wants to be a film writer. And she's a six foot something blonde girl. Swedish.

But if that hasn't remotely happened - as it most certainly didn't for me, then you need to make sure that you're proactive in your approach to your art. Write something. Anything. And get it made. It doesn't have to be perfect - in fact, let's face it, it won't be. But at least you'll have another film under your belt. A filmmaker of reasonable professional standing said to me (and a couple of hundred other college students) once that 'you aren't a filmmaker unless you make films'. And I have lived by that philosophy ever since.

As it says up the top there, I don't like half of the films I write and direct every year. I make seven, and only three get out there to public and festivals like Screentest. But I've learned something by making those films. I know why I don't like the end product, I know what not to do next time and I remind myself that I am NOT a film writer. I'm a director. But, having made over thirty short films in six years, I can tell you that if I'd sat in my film classes waiting for people to write films for me to direct, I would have made four films. And I've only liked one of those enough to want to do it.