Delivery of the BFI Film Academy

BFI screening

This month marks the end of our participation in the BFI’s Film Academy for 2013. Funded by the Department for Education and The British Film Institute, the initiative included 24 regional film academies running across England providing 408 young people the opportunity to learn about the British film industry.

It seems like a lifetime ago since Rachael and I drew up our dream course timetable for CTVC scheduling industry experts alongside practical 3D film-making, a trip to a live music film score event and a day at the Harry Potter studios. Receiving the funding at the end of 2012 allowed us to push forward and recruit our 17 budding young film-makers.

We launched the course on January 12th and week after week we were joined by professionals who provided engaging masterclasses (or ‘chats’ as Ken Loach preferred to call them) to a room full of hungry to learn 16-19 year olds. Each week bought a different lesson from Legal to Locations and PR to Producing.

A huge thank you to Ken Loach (dir. Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley), Hannah Leader (executive producer Gosford Park), Ed Dark (VFX Harry Potter), Jaquie Pepall (3D expert Great Lake Films), Marrianne Gray, film critic), Mark Price (script/director Colin), Stephen Follows (writer and producer), Peter Gray (locations Warhorse, Fast and Furious 6), Sam Kirkwood (My First Job in Film) and Denise Parkinson (Category Director, Entertainment Global and UK, Yahoo).

Our 17 young film-makers deserve a thank you too.  From session 1 they arrived prepared and ready to take on the lessons that were being taught. Alongside the masterclasses they worked in 3 crews, learning 3D film-making and producing 3D shorts – not an easy task.

Their 3D films were screened with great success at the Picturehouse in Stratford on 23rd Feb.


But the BFI Film Academy didn’t end there.

Yesterday I attended a screening of 6 films produced by students of the BFI’s residential course delivered by NFTS. 54 students selected from the regional academies showcased the work they had produced in the last two weeks. There were only two spots available to our group and I was proud to watch the excellent work from Hope Kemp and Caitlin Pinner on the big screen at the BFI.

The rest of the group have also stayed committed and opted to partake in extra activities. After their final session Denise Parkinson offered to give them a tour of the Yahoo offices so yesterday they gathered with Rachael and continued their learning. Next week they will meet for an extra masterclass with Paul Brett (executive producer of The Kings Speech.)

The commitment from the DfE and BFI to fund film academies across the country is one that I believe will have a huge impact on the British Film Industry. The industry currently provides employment for tens of thousands of people and it is growing. Nurturing new talent is essential in keeping the UK at the cutting edge of film production.

The BFI have more exciting plans. It was announced that from September 2013, Film Nation UK will deliver a bold and visionary new film education programme that will be available to every 5-19 year old and the 26,700 schools in the UK.

It is an exciting time to be a young person interested in film.

To finish I thought I would share my three favourite lessons I learned from our BFI Film Academy.

1 – Hannah Leader beautifully visualized the rights and distribution of film by slicing up a Victoria Sponge. The group were shocked at how many slices there were (and just how small/large some of those slices could be)!

2 – Ed Dark inspired the group by sharing his journey from VFX co-coordinator on Harry Potter to running and directing with his own production company. The group learned that there are many, varied career paths within the industry.

3 – Ken Loach inspired our group to be brave and challenging with their film-making. It was a lovely, light-hearted moment in his masterclass (sorry ‘chat’) when he told the group ‘to be perverse … but not perverted.’

See what our academy was like here

Post by Alison Wright








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