The BFI Future Film Festival: How It All Began…

This week, Rebecca and I went to the BFI Future Film Festival, held at the BFI Southbank Centre in London, now in its tenth year (Gosh!). The festival ran from the 16th-19th February, and between us, we were there for the whole four days.

We’ve been attending the BFI Future Film Festival (also referred to as Future Film Fest or simply FFF) since 2014, and it was where Rebecca and I met for the first time ever. Little did we know at the time how closely we would be working together in the future.

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The Possibilities Are Endless…

After meeting up the following year with Rebecca at the BFI Future Film Fest, we discovered that we could work together. Rebecca was a director looking for someone to help produce her ideas, and I was looking for a director who could take one of my screenplays and come up with a vision that looked fantastic. In short, we were both trying to make stuff happen. I remember that in 2015 one of the sessions was to watch The Possibilities Are Endless, a moving documentary about the musician Edwyn Collins who had had two cerebral hemorrhages in 2005, resulting in aphasia, and showed how he was able to use his music to rebuild his life, and he was able to resume his musical career two years later. Feeling inspired, that evening, I began networking with a frenzy, and drew out the title of the film on my notepad.

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Before 2015, I was getting frustrated. I never seemed to get any of my films made, despite my best efforts. I had been writing screenplays for seven years, but I couldn’t get any of them produced. I had been trying to write a film with the tightest budget in mind that would still work well as a story. It was a simple two-hander, with two friends in their early twenties skimming stones into the lake. Only one problem, I couldn’t afford to hire a lake! I had also written a two-hander where two strangers meet on a tube train, but again, I couldn’t afford this. Therefore, I had a problem.

“I might as well write a film that’s all set in a black box…”

This was the first time I thought of writing  a film in a black box. Why? Because I thought it would be cheap. And I thought it would be a good joke, with a slice of sarcastic humour thrown in for good measure. However, everyone I mentioned it to that evening thought I was being serious. It was at this point that Rebecca said that she’d direct it. And then we met Maria Lättilä, who was so passionate about it, that she’d immediately offered to help me produce it. A plan began to form…

The BFI Future Film Festival also provided more contacts who were willing to help, in particular, Matthew Mulcahy, who became our sound recordist on Awaken and The Black Box, and later, Pablo Brown-Jennett, who became our Assistant Director on The Black Box.

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18 months later, here’s Rebecca and I on set…

So, if you’re aged 16-25 and you really want to get into filmmaking? The BFI does a lot of great work for young filmmakers just beginning to start out. If it hadn’t been for the BFI, we wouldn’t have found some of our key personnel, Rebecca and I wouldn’t have met, and I never would have had the idea to write a film set in a black box (let alone two!)

How did that happen? That’s another story for another day…

For more information about the BFI Future Film initiative, you can find the link here. We strongly recommend it.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/education-research/education/bfi-future-film

Yours

Thom Jackson-Wood

 

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