We recently attended a ‘film’ meet up in Birmingham aimed at bringing together and providing opportunities for filmmakers in the region. A great idea in principle and something that we should be doing in order to understand, feed off, learn from and share with each other. Unfortunately, however positive the meet up’s intentions were, they were marred by the general attitude, naivety and ignorance of most of the people that attended (I must stress that this does not encompass everyone who attended).
Let me explain. Our initial interest in the event came from our love of film, our love of the area and wanting to connect with others that felt the same way. The problem was, people were simply there for self gain, and ended up moaning and complaining that “no one is funding our films”, “why can’t I get a job in media” and all things relating to ‘the world owes me a living because I studied film’. A simple fact that everyone in the region has to come to terms with is that there is no film industry here and unless you’re making corporate videos, 9/10 your films aren’t going to make you any money at this stage.
We can only offer our opinions on things as, at such times, things aren’t great for film in the area, and we don’t have a definitive answer as to how to fix the problem, even if we thought it could be fixed. But trying to spend the little money you have on making a block-busting, scriptastic, cinematic wonder is not going to give much return on your efforts. If it’s your first film you will make countless mistakes that will ruin the chances of its success and waste whatever money you’ve put into it. Keeping it to yourself and not showing others because you fear they’ll steal your idea will not achieve anything. Getting defensive and touchy about your film when it is criticised will only hinder you.
And finally, thinking that graduating from a film course instantly gives you everything you need to make a huge money making film makes you completely useless and will define you as a product of the X-Factor generation.
What we desperately want to see is filmmakers from the area getting up and making films their own way, being individuals and defining themselves through their own expressions. As with any other art form, express your own experiences and feelings through film, and please do not attempt to emulate others on low or no budgets because you think that’s what’s expected of you. No one can tell you what should be expected, what is the right or wrong way of doing it. This has been our ethos from day 1 of Black Country Cinema, and with every film that we have made, we have learned more and more and developed our own voice. And the best thing is we haven’t spent all of our cash developing ourselves.
I want to see a meet up of filmmakers in the area where we get together and show each other our films, discuss them and learn from one another’s experiences. If there is any money in the pipeline, it will come later, but don’t hold your breath. I will always remember the words of a certain person during the Q&A at our first screening back in 2009 -
“I don’t think chasing money is the point… to exist you’ll find a way of living. But it’s about your experiences that you want to talk about and I think you should keep on doing that”