Starting Out in Film
Hello! First, here's just a little bit about myself; I graduated in May 2016 from UC Berkeley, California, where I studied Comparative Literature. My degree involved studying English and French literature, however it went one step further and allowed us the freedom to compare literature with other arts or disciplines, such as politics, philosophy, film etc. This course of study also meant that I was able to look closely at how meaning is subtly altered by translation from French to English or vice versa, which in turn reveals insights into a country’s own culture and traditions. It’s safe to say I’m fascinated by language and how it evolves, and what it says about the nation it belongs to and the people who use it.
After having had such a liberal education in humanities, when I returned to London, and faced with so much choice, I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. Despite having grown up obsessed with watching films and repeatedly dragging reluctant friends to the cinema, actually working in film had never occurred to me. Weirdly, it was never an industry that was advertised on Careers Day and so I guess it seemed that embarking on a career in film was some distant, abstract concept. However, I actually know a bunch of people with various jobs in the industry.
Thankfully, earlier this year, after months and months of searching, I began to dabble in film production and finally found work that really excited me and drew me in. In April, I had the opportunity to work as a runner on a film called Keepers, shot on the west coast of Scotland. This was my first ever experience in film and I quickly learnt all about set life. I also spent time assisting the Script Supervisor as she struggled to contend on her own with extreme weather elements and challenging locations. Working so intensely with everyone day after day, I formed close bonds with many of the cast and crew, and overall, I had a very fulfilling and eye-opening first experience in film.
By the end of May I’d worked on set, but I still lacked experience in the initial phases of production, such as development. Two of the many people I have to thank so far on my journey in film are Marcus and Sophie, for kindly inviting me to come and do work experience at Double M Films. I have been here for the last two months reading scripts and learning the art of writing script notes. It’s not so straightforward writing a synopsis (as easy as it sounds!) or breaking down a script, but once I began to find a rhythm I started to gain a deeper understanding into what makes a script work and why things like structure, character strength and development are key in bringing a great story or idea to life. The feedback and guidance I’ve had from Sophie in writing notes and coverages have been invaluable in teaching me what to look out for when reading, what NOT to include when writing notes and just generally how to approach writing them in the first place.
In-between reading and writing, the conversations shared in the office are what have really made this work experience stand out. Whenever I ask a random question that comes to mind, about the current state of the independent film market or perhaps about the process of script-writing, all three of us always engage in a lively and passionate discussion. Through these conversations I get to find out more about Marcus or Sophie’s previous experience film-making. This gives me great insight into the business and helps to widen my perspective and understanding of film. It’s these kind of conversations I’m most grateful for, as they inspire and motivate me to get creative and write my own short one day, and in the meantime throw myself into producing in any way, shape or form.
So far I’ve been very lucky to work with kind, wonderful and inspiring people in film. The opportunity to collaborate with such diverse people is one of the things that attracts me to producing in the film industry. But more importantly, what originally attracted me to this business is the chance to shine a light on crucial human issues by telling powerful stories that move people. There are so many different kinds of films out there - I definitely have a soft spot for great comedy and drama. For me, I love being able to appreciate cinematography that is breathtaking and stands out on its own. Also, when an actor gives such depth to a character that you are truly captivated, and when they have the ability to make you feel through their performance - it could be anything, compassion, fear, grief, understanding, joy. At the end of the day a film reveals a new story - either very different to our own or sometimes one that hits home hard - and for me, the best films are always the ones that pull you in and take you on a clear, logical journey of some sort. I think we can agree, there is nothing better than that energised feeling of satisfaction when the credits finally roll.
I’ve still got lots to learn - that’s for sure! - but I’m very excited to see what I end up doing next. I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who contribute to my experience in film along the way, and a special shout out to Double M for kindly investing their time in me, for setting a stellar example of how to approach film-making and for inspiring my passion in producing.