Funding For Film

Aside from winning the lottery, an elaborate Post Office heist or blackmailing rich celebrities with awkward photos, getting hold of money to finance your first film is a nightmarish minefield laden with disappointment. Just like a real minefield but you get to keep your life and limbs.

I intend to have a more complete portfolio of scripts and treatments in preparation for an MA in Filmmaking. From there, I’d like to have submitted a few scripts to funding bodies in an effort to subsidise or even wholly pay for the course. I have yet to find anyone else who has taken the same avenue, which is making it seem less and less likely that this is even possible. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t though, so until I lose a limb through it then I’m happy to plough on through.

Some funding bodies are more specific than others in terms of application requirements, others are more abstract and can even offer finance for entrepreneurial endeavours such as self-starter production companies etc. Creative England for example, offers various different types of funds from the same body, each serving different purposes and individuals or projects at different stages of their development so it is important to research the correct funding bodies to tap into for first time shooter/producers.

Film Funding Bodies

BFI – The British Film Institute offers £2,000,000 of funding to first time directors for an assortment of projects each quarter. It is likely that the less expensive projects would be more likely to attain funding as they do fund multiple productions each quarter. Their website has a handy link directly to their applications form that can also be found here (sign in required).

CTBF – The Charity of Film and Television Benevolent Fund primarily deals with those who have already been working within the Film and Television industries but who may have suffered an accident or illness. At the same time, they do offer something called the John Brabourne Award that is provided to budding filmmakers from low income backgrounds in an effort to help pay for training or equipment. Applications for funding this year has now closed but they are currently receiving applications for 2014. The independent website for this award can be found here.

Collabor8te – Working in partnership with numerous media institutions including the likes of Nokia, Dazed and Confused and Rankin Film Productions, the Collabor8te initiative supplies grants for up to £10,000 for emerging talent and provides links and networking into the related industries. They do not offer funding for documentary proposals. At the same time, the applications process is relatively simply, requiring your CV and 15 pages of script material along with a single page synopsis. They do not appear to be taking submissions just yet but you can find the online application form just here.

Creative England – Sourcing funds directly from The National Lottery, Creative England has lots of different money pots to pull from. Providing that you are entirely clear on the type of project that you want to apply for, Creative England probably has a grant specifically tailored for what you need. There are often setbacks though, such as the requirement that you will not have been part funded from any other funding body for any enterprise or creative project already. They are currently accepting applications for various grants so its best to have a look here.

EU Media Programme – This is huge. It really is massive. It is also likely to attract filmmakers from all over Europe so although the financial backing is stronger throughout their numerous specialised grant categories, you’re also much less likely to get onto it. At the same time, there does appear to be fewer restrictions and the industry networking potential is incredible. This particular funding entity does not look like it is going to run short of cash any time soon so it could very well be worth the trouble of applying and just seeing where you end up. Also, you’ll need to have the backing of a production company that has already produced commercially viable work for at least a year. It might be worth brokering a deal stating that you’re happy to do all the leg work if they’re happy to support you with their logo. How hard can it be? This is probably the type of grant you’d be looking for from them.

The Ideas Tap – Create a user account, sign in and you can apply for as many different grants as you can for whatever project you’re working on. They also provide start up funds for plenty of other media related projects from print, audio to stage and screen. On top of that, they have a handy archive of jobs, opportunities and a massive database of useful links and tutorials designed to help you get onto the right path with your creative projects. It’s all REALLY worth a look at all their other resources, but more specifically their funding page can be found here.

Microwave Film London – Is not exactly a funding body, but they do have a handy databank of how to get low budget films off the ground, along with strong links to the right people in the right places throughout London. This one would probably be handy to those already on a Filmmaking course within LDN. One day… one day…

Sponsume – It might be easier to cluster Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Sponsume all in the same category but this crowd sourcing website seems to be more film friendly than others that tend to lean onto a more entrepreneurial edge. Essentially it operates much in the same way as any other platform of its type so it’s fairly self-explanatory. It’s free to set up, just like the others, but in exactly the same way, the site takes a percentage off the money raised per project. Have a look at the project page just here.

The Wellcome Trust – If you have a film idea related to biomedical or similar humanitarian subjects then you might be eligible to apply for funding from the Wellcome Trust. Yes, deliberately spelled with two ‘L’s. Previous films that they have invested in have been primarily documentary based but it’s always a good idea to keep your perspectives nice and broad! Their access to funding page can be found here.

This post is part of ongoing research, targeted at breaking into the film and television industry. Hard. This will be updated as hopeful progress ensues. 

BBC Horizons Vignette

During a placement at TwoFour Production in Plymouth, I was tasked with producing a vignette in preparation for the promotion and launch of the latest BBC Horizon’s series.

This involved cutting and sourcing the script from the transcription, sourcing the appropriate images, editing and compiling the finished product.

Software used: Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Encore, Adobe Audition.

Empire International Vignette

During a two week placement for empire Magazine, this was one of my assignments. This vignette was produced for Empire Magazine for promotional use in appealing to prospective shareholders as the publication is looking to expand overseas.

The soundtrack was pre-assigned and the brief was detailed to a point where we knew where to include crossovers and transitions.

Software used: Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Audition, Adobe Encore, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop.

Iron Man 3 Review

So, during my time at Empire Magazine, I meant to practice my writing a little more but never really got around to it. I’ve been told that in actual fact, people do not generally get a job in writing film reviews by writing film reviews. Apparently the best way in is to be creative about engaging with films. Coming up with spoofs, puns or parodies is more likely to attract the attention of a recruiting editor than a heavy portfolio of just film reviews. In any case, its probably a good idea to at least have something to start with…

“Drew Pearce and Shane Black have been working tirelessly on what should be called Iron Man 4 (The Avengers merely a title added for the sake of variety). In reality, after shrinking down what would have originally been over six hours of script and screenplay, a new fangled Tony Stark movie has emerged from a cutting room floor, flooded with car chases and scenes that would help make sense of some apparently inconsequential characters.

Following on directly from the events of The Avengers, we find Tony Stark (Downey Jnr) suffering from constant flash backs of more than just parties from bygone new years sporting Ali Gee’s originals. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from an unfortunate turn through space-time along with countless run-ins with aliens has left the inner Iron Man folded and unstable. We see the once immutable hero quite literally stripped of his armour, loosing his gorgeous Malibu playboy house, his cars and incidentally for a substantial part of the story, his less metaphorical suits.

Pearce and Shane have brought Iron Man to his knees, buckling under the pressure of his own demons and derisively knocking him off his red and gold feet via shadowy forces of The Mandarin. Whilst Downey Jnr’s performance is encapsulating as per, the same cannot be said for the relationship between Stark and the new characters. Granted, a delightful repartee between a young boy and the eponymous hero in the second act is one of the best highlights. The same goes for many of the exchanges with bodyguard ‘Happy Hoggan’ (Favreau) and Rhodes (Cheadle) but the motivations for others have been found wanting. Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall would have to wade neck deep through figurative silver nitrate before they might find the work they were paid to do, and as such, it leaves viewers with some irritable gaps in the story.

The exploding, drug addicted, terminator hulk henchmen provide a satisfying, if unconvincing fodder for the Iron Men. Yes, that’s right. There are now 42 of these suits that seem to be an expense where global hunger over a personal hobby never quite got the balance. We also have to wonder if these scalding, Abercrombie & Hulk models really would fail to warrant the attention of the other invincible SHIELD housemates. No sign of any of the Avengers here, because, as Stark vehemently states, ‘this is an American problem.’ Well, that seems to be that. No point in arguing, but no one seems to care.

The film ploughs on carrying the Iron Man mantle, listing ever so slightly under the weight of immense expectations. Floating on a tirade of heavy themes, Shane brandies an assortment of heart lifting gags and wisecracks, nodding at the likes of Downton Abbey and cringing 90’s music. This is not to mention Ben Kingsley’s performance, which has earned his lordship’s title for himself at least twice over as he carefully delivers the most interesting surprise of the franchise to date.

Filled as Marvel does, with gorgeous visuals, original designs and laced with elements of sharp witty dialog, Iron Man 3 captures the same sentiment that encouraged the first film to cause such a stir. You emerge from the cinema, having witnessed a handsome billionaire-playboy-philanthropist fight in nightmarish scenarios but you feel like you understand. Just like after Iron Man 1, you dare to suppose that you’re not too different from the hero, and you dream for a super moment… It’s not too difficult to imagine yourself in those shoes, getting bitten by that spider, or begin building a mechanical suit. You start racking your brains, picking out basic facts in the science fiction that you feel you know about and then, you apply it to your 12-year-old thoughts. That’s exactly how films of this genre should work, and Iron Man 3 works it masterfully.”

Empire Magazine Internship 1/2

I sat opposite the original Ted. His face conveys surprise as if he’s just seen up the skirt of someone bending over one of the spartan shields from 300 behind me. Atop of every computer there are miniature lego figurines from various different films, arranged in order of prowess or appearance through Star Wars.

There are never any vacancies. No-one ever leaves. It’s understandable. Everyone loves their job. Everyone is calm and collected – to the point where someone slates the latest Star Trek film, giving room for knit-picking and fierce debate over the representation of Khan.

Star Trek was incredible by the way. Expect a review shortly.

So far, tasks have including lots of transcribing, but in all honesty, this has been a labour of weird fetish love. It really is fascinating to listen to the interviews that these guys have with some of my all time film heros.

I soon came to regret my flippant comment to Helen O’Hara. When she asked ‘have you heard Pacific Rim?’ I responded with a rather cutting, ‘oh that film that is essentially just Michael Bay’s interpretation of Power Rangers…’ clearly a poor quip since she said that I was going to regret ever saying that. How does she know these things?

After transcribing an interview between Helen and Guillermo del Toro about Pacific Rim, I was embarrassingly rectified in my lack of vision. Hearing Guillermo talk about his influences from Japense Kaiju movies whilst living in Mexico, and his love of Gerry Anderson material, I began to see why this film could prove to be something different. Granted, there is narrative and a story arc even in the wrestling that I used to watch when I was eight years old, but that didn’t make it groundbreaking. In Guillermo’s own words it’s “soap opera for men.”

All in all, I’m rather looking forward to Guillermo’s take on including more verisimilitude in his CGI shots – making them less-than-perfect. A technique that  induces a sense of realism through imitating naturalistic filming parameters. Things like lights flashing on the lens, cameras breaking the water line, spray on the glass, and even amateurish zooms on a pull focus. (I should add that J.J. Abrams is also a big fan of this kind of cinematography in sci-fi films)

The interview with Shane Black and Drew Pearce was equally eye opening. It was amazing to see that Iron Man 3 managed to retain any context at all after all that editing. According to Drew, there would have been over six hours of footage had the script not been cut down. In the end the shot just over four hours worth, which eventually had to be edited down to one hour, 59 mins.

Check out the interview (wonderfully transcribed  I might add) right here.

I went straight to Twitter and got in touch with Drew Pearce, mentioning a little quip Shane had said about Asians – nothing racist, but it could have been misconstrued so it was omitted from the final copy. To my rather pleasant surprise, I actually got a response! In fact there ensued a little repartee for a brief while, as I was actually engaging with one of my favourite writers and more than likely a multi millionaire at the moment.

I managed to do some sub editing too for Liz Beardsworth, the production editor. She allowed me to hack away at the text, rearranging layouts, captioning images and re-writing some of the content to better suit the features. She also taught me some handy little tricks, like printing out each page – as for some weird reason, its like having another set of eyes looking over your work, looking at it from another perspective. Helpful nuggets of ‘journo-know.’ Just made that up. She was also kind enough to provide me with an open reference for prospective internships or future jobs. Cheers again Liz!

Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ by George Richardson

Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ targeted for Front Magazine.

Good cop – fat cop go back to school and figure out that their stereotypes have changed, or are still the same, or – what? Review by George Richardson.

Jonah Hill (Superbad, Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, Haywire) take their orders from Ice Cube, which they interpret as taking loads of drugs and getting fucked up as much as possible in order to get laid or at least get a job done. This film starts like a high school musical and sprouts some badass facial hair that gets fashioned into a fully grown, exploding beard. It sort of takes the piss out of itself, which the more refined of us might call meta-humour, as it mocks its own genre and in doing so, is just bloody hilarious. A scene towards the end sees them suit up in white tuxedoes and stock up with guns like the matrix followed by gardening. Well in – directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller!

The last time we remember Channing was in G.I. Joe, a role that you could watch in Latvian and still get the gist. This time when he opens his mouth, its like a clamp gently squeezes your bladder, you’ve got pepper in your eyes, and your sides have had the work out of a thousand Olympic squats. He is funny. Jonah Hill – he’s always been funny. He has only been funny. This film sees the characters forced to swap roles but in doing so, Hill tried to pull off being a badass but that sort of reminds us that it’s only a film – he just can’t quite manage it.

There is a surprise cameo that frankly OWNS all others that have ever graced cinema. Of course, we wouldn’t want to ruin it, you actually have to pay to go see it, or download it illegally if you have no money or friends. You’ll know who it is straight away, but you won’t see it coming, unless someone has been mouthing off.  If you’re watching it online, odds are that won’t happen.

What’s most intriguing is an appearance from what can only be described as young Saul Silver from Pineapple Express. Dave Franco is essentially a small clone of his taller, prettier, more successful older brother. You’d be forgiven if at times you’re saying ‘look it’s that guy, from that spider film and the one-where-he-chops-his-own-arm-off!’ He’s just as good though. You watch it and think, yeah, I’ll follow that guy, I bet there’s loads of intricately layered family dynamics and inter-sibling rivalry.

Since our invite to the premier got lost in the post again, we’ll never know. All we can say is this film is sick and makes it look like American cops are somehow socially acceptable. If you don’t like cliché buddy cop movies then that’s fine, but this film knows its cliché. Like a fat kid who doesn’t give a shit and is totally confident; he’s jokes and gets all the girls. With the wise words of Ice Cube – “embrace your stereotype!” Couldn’t agree more you angry, black, heroic bastard!

ENDS

Word Count: 506

Comments: The language used in Front magazine often incorporates dramatic devices such as swearing and follows patterns that mimic conversational English rather than neat text. Baring in mind the target audience, despite some offensive language in this review, it does have a market and I feel it does adhere to the Front readership and editorial context.