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. 

Top 5 Ways To Avoid Paying Police Bribes On The Mongol Rally

Put yourself in these shoes; Instead of shoes, try uncomfortable boots that probably don’t fit. Add a ridiculously oversized hat, a 1930’s whistle with truncheon and an extremely repetitive job whereby you get much of the same thing everyday. Even waving around your gun that you’ll never actually use gets boring. This is the life of traffic police in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and even the Middle East. When a tiny battered up car rocks up, covered in stickers, crewed by drunk people in fancy dress, flashing a badge that says “I have more money than sense” in the form of a GB plate, one could be forgiven in assuming that your day might be made.

This sight even in the UK is intriguing and would spark even the dullest bobbie to ‘have a gander,’ so whilst being harassed by foreign police might be annoying, you should look at it as part of the fun.

Even so, some police in distant lands have not had the luxury of a well-rounded education and might not take too kindly to a bunch of 20 somethings dressed as pirates trying on official hats, being shot at with cap guns or being offered a swig of cheap rum and coke from a water bottle. The latter would be most unwise if other police, particularly ones with bigger hats are near by. By rule of thumb, the bigger the hat, the more important (they might think) they are. So to avoid paying through your nose, wallet or other appendages, try to stick to these guidelines.

1. Travel In Convoy.

The car at the front of the convoy will be spotted a mile off and then waved down. Police then generally expect just one car to follow this instruction. If all of a sudden over five GB plated cars pulling over with everyone hopping out to stretch their legs with all eyes on the authoritative figure, one might be hastily expected to move along. In fear of being completely out manned and out gunned with witnesses, an officer usually decrees that this particular unwashed, smelly Westerner isn’t worth the hassle.

2. Be Grateful

Immediately shake their hand, show them your map and indicate how hopelessly lost you may or may not be. Police do have a sense of duty and care. Make sure you indicate that you need their help, reinforce their sense of pride and authority. After all, it can’t hurt to confirm with someone that you are heading the right way. You might even scrounge some local knowledge like the distance to the next petrol station of if any roads are closed ahead.

3. Keep Calm And Do The Dance.

For a start, you might actually have missed a stop sign or gone over the speed limit. There’s likely to be a reason for them to have picked that particular spot to flag you down so be aware of what you are being accused of. You can politely request them to show you what you have done and if the lack of any evidence arises then you can afford to be a little more lighthearted. If you are asked for an on the spot fine, point out that you are in search for a cash machine after doing the ‘pocket dance’ (Otherwise known as the ‘Keys Please shuffle’) yielding nothing but a broken lighter, a Nokia 3310, some change from the last country you were in and a load of suspicious looking lint.

4. Say Hello And Offer A Souvenir.

Actually start the conversation. Smiling helps. Indicate that you are a tourist, not someone working for a high rolling oil firm. It is a brilliant idea to take trinkets such as novelty Union Jack sunglasses, Big Ben snow globes or a box full of flags sporting the red, white and blue. These will be much cheaper than having to disperse $20 bills left right and centre and can sometimes be used as currency with certain mechanics. Particularly for tyres.

5. Be Charming.

In Kazakhstan, if you are caught throwing a cigarette butt out of your car window you can face up to five days in prison (with questionable human rights issues). Now you know. If you didn’t, you need to make sure that you are ‘frightfully sorry,’ and ‘it certainly will not happen again sir,’ after deliberately misunderstanding the accusation, immediately offering a cigarette.* Laws are different everywhere and police do not expect foreigners to know all the local customs, but you are expected to be respectful of them. This also includes finishing the bottle of Vodka once it has been opened…

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*NB; If you didn’t smoke before the rally, you should. It is recommended that you stock up on cigarettes from Romania since they are the cheapest ones that you could pass off as being from ‘back home.’ This is because the further East you travel, the alphabets change and language becomes increasingly exotic but people are still keen to sample Western tobacco wares.

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!

Falmouth Photographs

I  did have a cannon AE-1  but sadly the shutter mechanism has since broken and it would cost more to repair it than it would to simply buy a new one. Since there are more pressing things that I need to pay for coming up, like rent and food, the camera will have to wait. At the same time, I am very keen to produce a series of photographs that reflect my time in London in the same way that these images partially reflect my time in Falmouth.

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