BFI Documentary Residential 2015 (First Weekend)
2014 proved to be a successful year for the UK film industry, figures released by the British Film Institute earlier this week illustrate a huge increase in American inward investment into the British industry, up 44% from the year before. This stems from the huge amount of American productions filmed in the UK. Interestingly 2013 only saw an increase of 14% over 2012, which I believe shows the huge development happening in the British film industry year by year.
Whilst these statistics are definitely promising the most exciting element to the BFI research is that independent film reached a National box office share of 16%, which is the highest share ever. To me this is overwhelmingly positive, despite the parameters of independent film being incredibly ambiguous. It still provides the promise of the film industry becoming more inclusive of a wider range of content.
Further evidence of independent success is indicated by the recent 2015 Sundance Festival. There’s a 0.74% chance to get onto the Sundance Shorts programme (8,061 short films submitted and only 60 were chosen) which goes to show the incredibly competitive nature of the festival. However one of the entries into the main festival- which is a great deal harder to enter, is a documentary about transgender prostitutes named Tangerine. This was shot entirely on three iPhones. Magnolia Pictures (who also gained the rights of distribution for the culturally significant SeaWorld documentary Blackfish) have since secured the worldwide distribution rights, providing it with a theatrical release in America.
I’m of the opinion that this is of extreme significance to the future of the industry, and will benefit the careers of the forty 16-19 year olds who have recently participated in the first weekend of their BFI documentary residential. Over the course of this weekend the young people were provided masterclasses from three industry professionals. The BAFTA nominated Director John Conroy, the Production Manager of Cyberbully Diane Shorthouse, and One Show Producer Chloe Browne. After these masterclasses the young people were also given camera, editing and sound workshops with industry standard equipment. These sessions are given to them in preparation for their return to London, for a week long residential in order to produce five documentary films. These are wholly produced by the young people with the assistance of film tutors.
I feel that it is important for filmmakers to be proactive in making content; and it is even more essential when you’re young. As I have recently graduated myself this is something that I personally strive to do. The young people on this residential will each have a high quality documentary, screened in a cinema, to their name. If a full-length film shot on an iPhone 5S can be selected for Sundance Festival in the current industry, then who knows what the future holds for these budding filmmakers?
Watch the film below to see what else we got up to on the first weekend, including a trip to the LOCO Film Festival.