I want to specifically look into directing independent fiction films, which is my end goal of what I want to do.
To help understand and achieve my end goal, I need to look into styles and techniques that are being used in fiction directing currently. It’s important to look into what’s being used now to help me develop as a filmmaker. Specifically, I want to look at films with political themes, as it is an area I’m interested in going into.
The themes of political films change over time, matching with what the major problems are in the current time period. A lot of political films currently are focusing on equality between gender, race and wealth.
Wealth has always been a major theme in political films as it’s always been an issue which people focus on. However, the main change that there’s been in the last 50 years of political filmmaking is how it is presented. A trend for political films used to be that they were put in unrealistic or fantasy situations to show perspective and use metaphors. Films like Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four (both originally George Orwell books) are popular and well known political films which use this technique. Nineteen Eighty-Four is put in a futuristic style and shows what the world could be like if segregation between the classes would be like. Animal farm shows the same message but instead it does it by making all the characters animals. The technique of putting a deep meaning into films makes the viewer detach and think ‘what if’, instead of ‘This is happening now’. Furthermore, both these films were very much written for the period they were in. Animal Farm was written in a time of communist revolution in Russia, and Nineteen Eighty-Four was written after the war.
Over time, films have developed from putting them in unrealistic or futuristic situations, to putting them in real life modern settings of what could happen. An example of this is the films Threads, which was produced by the BBC. The film follows characters in Sheffield where a nuclear attack happens. The politics of the film, once again, mirrors current events as at the time there were nuclear threats and worries. It shows the dangers on nuclear war and why it should be stopped.
In the past few years, political filmmaking has developed once again. Now films are being made with realistic characters, realistic stories and realistic situations. They are a lot grittier and truthful then they’ve ever been. They focus on the here and now, instead of what could come in the future. An example of this is I, Daniel Blake. The film is set in modern day, with very real characters and storylines as it follows a family on the poverty line in Newcastle. The technique in the filming has also changed. Nineteen Eighty-Four uses a lot of wide shots to set the scene and show the characters surroundings more. This is to show the horrible world he lives in, as that is the main message of the story. In comparison, in I, Daniel Blake, they use a lot of close shots because the main message of the films is to show the characters situation and who they are. Therefore, the main technique that’s changed works with the themes as it’s changed from showing a world that we could live in, to a person that is real currently.
There are groups and organisations that will help me become an independent director. This includes opportunities that will help me develop as a filmmaker or help make my film become more professional.
An example of an organisation that can help me is BFI (British Film Industry.) They have funding schemes to help filmmakers create better and more professional films. (http://www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/film-fund). They will also advertise your film and help it get more views by putting it in newsletters, on their website or on their film channel. As a filmmaker, this gives you an opportunity for people to watch your films world wide, and be noticed by important filmmakers. One important person seeing it and liking it can be the start of a professional and important career.
There’s been lots of significant technological advances that have affected my chosen area of the industry. The main change is the price and accessibility to equipment. 10 years ago, the price of cameras and other film equipment were too expensive for someone with the average way to own. Since then, cameras have become more accessible to own and a lot cheaper. It means that more people can make high end and high quality films with less money, making films develop as there is more types of people creating films because it’s not just an upper class job anymore. Along with this, it’s meant that crews have got smaller. A small shoot can be done with few people as cameras can now record sound and can be put on a tripod that can be carried by one person. Some film crews are now down to three people. This will make job availabilities harder to find. Furthermore, individuals in film crews are expected to know and do more on set, including the director. It used to be one person directing, one person using the camera and one person doing the sound. Whereas now, a director is expected to know a lot more, especially in documentary filming.
5. Discuss the development of viewing platform, how have the changed in recent years and what does this mean for the industry
As well as significant development in technology, theres been a development in viewing platforms and how audiences find films. 25 years ago, the only way to see a film was in the cinema, on a video or sometimes on TV. Now, there’s a lot more viewing platforms for filmmakers to use. Online streaming has now become popular with the rise of mobiles and the internet.
A viewing platform that has become more popular in recent years is Netflix. On there share holder letter they sent out in January they reported they had over 93 million subscribers worldwide, including more than 49 million in the United States. (http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/NFLX/3688598571x0x924415/A5ACACF9-9C17-44E6-B74A-628CE049C1B0/Q416ShareholderLetter.pdf) As well as letting viewers/subscribers see TV shows and films, it also creates its own original series. All together they have made 126 original Netflix series, which is one of the main advertising points of Netflix, as you can only watch them if you subscribe. Netflix has changed the film and TV industry by: making people watch more online streamed films and TV shows, rather then watching them on TV; watching them in the cinema; or buying the DVD. In research by Nielsen they found that traditional TV watching by 18-24 years olds was down by 40% since 2011. (http://www.marketingcharts.com/television/are-young-people-watching-less-tv-24817/). This shows that the future in TV and film is in fact online viewership. We shouldn’t see the decline of TV viewership as a negative, but see it as an opportunity to create and develop new viewing platforms.
6. Are there any political developments that will affect your access to the industry
Theres been a lot of political developments recently which will affect my access to the industry. The main change is the UK leaving the European Union, which will affect where and how I work. In 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU which has negative effects if I wanted to work outside of the UK. It used to be that anyone in Europe could travel anywhere in the EU and work there. This was good for filmmakers as it meant you could go and travel if they wanted to shoot in another country with ease. However, now we have to apply for a visa if we want to travel outside the UK for work, which is more expensive and more hassle. FUNDING & CO-FUNDING
7. Does this part of the industry offer any access opportunities for people in your positions. If so, what are they?
There’s a lot of access opportunities for people wanting to direct and make films within the industry ALSO FIERCE COMPETITION. Access opportunities are ways of getting a chance to get into the film industry. An example of this is course and summer schools that offer opportunities through learning and meeting new people. An association that is good for these courses is Met Film School. A course that I could look into that will help me gain industry access in the 2 week directing course. It offers an in site to being a director and working with professional crews and actors. (https://www.metfilmschool.ac.uk/courses/two-week-directing/)