Missed out on of our opportunity to create a short film with the BFI and O2? Fear not, we’re still bringing you every last scrap of filmmaking advice going this London Film Festival.
Twenty-eight-year-old film director Chanya Button is premiering her first feature film Burn Burn Burn at the festival tonight. Chanya honed her skills by creating short films and working as an assistant director on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This is what she taught us about breaking into film.
1. Your crew are like a family you can choose. But choose wisely.
Whether it’s a burger bar or a film set, all workplaces rely on good working relationships. “When you’re casting and on set, you’re surrounded by fifty people a day,” Chanya tells us. “Then while you’re editing it’s just you and your editor for four or five months.” Intense.
She adds: “Put a lot of work into finding good relationships with people and really work on those – but don’t worry if they don’t work. It’s like choosing a family to work with, you spend lots of time with people. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work first time around, you will find people that you’re compatible with.”
2. Get used to being rejected
Check out these rejection letters sent to the likes of Andy Warhol and Madonna when they were trying to break into music – even being a genius doesn’t guarantee you immediate success.
“For every ‘yes’ you get, whether that’s a financier giving you money or an actor agreeing to attach themselves to the film, there’ll be fifty failures that go along with it,” says Chanya. “So it’s something you have to just be incredibly resilient to people saying ‘no’.”
3. There’s never been a better time to be a female director
“When you’re actually doing your job doing the thing that you love – shooting or editing a scene or writing something – you have control and you won’t feel different,” Chanya explains.
She adds: “I think it’s a great time to be a female film maker because people are waking up to the fact that we just need more voices, more different voices.”
But Chanya believes that the industry has a long way to go. “I think that there’s still a lot of change that needs to happen,” she says. “When I’m pitching a film it takes longer to convince people that a film populated by more female leading characters will make money. You get a lot of questions about female characters being likeable in a way that you don’t with male characters. All the problems that we face as women in real life are faced both by the characters that you create and by you as a filmmaker.”
4. There are LOADS of organisations which can help you with training and funding
According to Chanya, before accessing the right support, you need to have an idea of which part of the filmmaking process you’re interested in. “Think about which area you’d like to try working in and then, for example, if you’re interested in development you can write to production companies and offer to script read for them,” Chanya advises. “I did a lot of that work when I was starting out.”
If production or post-production sounds more like your thing, Chanya recommends checking out the training schemes offered by Creative Skillset, or contacting post-production companies directly.
5. People are happy to answer your questions
People who love what they do usually also love talking about it – so don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re training or working as a runner.
“There are people there who you can ask who will be able to tell you ‘I studied this course or I did this degree’, says Chanya. “Put yourself in an environment where you can explore and ask questions, because people never mind you asking questions.”
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