A word from our founder…
The British Filmmakers Alliance is not about our own self-promotion any more than it is about financial reward. It's about a love of film.
Throughout the site we've often cited the current economic downturn and its impact on the film industry, in relation to filmmakers. And while the financial crisis does compound the challenges of finding and sustaining a career in the industry – the difficulties inherent to embarking on a vocation in the creative arts is nothing new.
Many have faced it across cinema's hundred year history. And many have overcome it. It's not just about luck. The harder an individual works the luckier they become.
We live an over indulged time. Technological advancements mean everything is there for us – literally at the click of our fingers. Added to that, the advantage of living in a privileged Western society means everything is relatively easy.
But carving out a career in film is not easy. Nor should it be. If it was everyone would be doing it.
Film is a high risk investment. If any of us had the resources to invest in film – the majority would go for a project with bankable stars and tried and trusted filmmakers behind it.
We, as struggling filmmakers, all too often are 'blaming' someone. We bemoan the loss of the Film Council. We denounce established filmmakers, financiers, agents, production companies, regional funding bodies – an elite and unseen body of people who we somehow feel should be making it happen for us.
But who was it that brought success to doors of the unknown 'they' we so decry for not allowing us our chance. It's more than a certainty that they would have brought it to their own doors. Just as we should be doing now.
In truth, there is no dust covered coven of film execs looking at us from above like Greek Gods and moving us around like pawns on a chessboard deciding who will and won't have careers.
Any success that we attain is only ever our own responsibility to attain. As it was the responsibility of those currently enjoying illustrious careers to fulfil their own achievements. Because others have realised their goals doesn't mean it's their duty to make it all happen for us anymore than it would put us in a position of 'debt' to others if our dreams were suddenly a manifested reality.
Having said that, I've literally been overwhelmed by the amount of support, advice, encouragement and admiration I've received both personally and professionally from leading members of the film industry for simply trying something radical and new. Successful people and higher achievers admire the tenacity and dedication of others and more often than not will help. However that doesn't give us the right to rely on it as a god given entitlement.
Nothing gives us the right to a career in film.
Being talented does not give us the right. Wanting it does not give us the right. Sadly, spending thousands on a top film or drama school does not give us the right.
We still have to do more. We still have to walk the extra mile.
'Every problem carries within it the seeds of its own solution.'
There are so many positives we can focus on.
There is still too much opportunity out there for us to just give up.
Thanks to the incredible technological advancements available to us, making a feature film has become inordinately less expensive than it was, even a few years ago. Lottery and government money hasn't disappeared along with the Film Council – it has simply changed hands and the British Film Institute has taken up the mantle and is attributing £17million a year to film. That's more than most countries have. Very few other countries even have national government supported funding bodies. The USA doesn't and yet it kicked off the Indie Film Movement with an incredible slate of impactful low budget independently produced films. Yet still we bemoan our fate.
'What now must we do?'
This is a question the BFA is committed to asking at the heart of all our endeavours.
The answer is – we must make films.
We must find new ways to make films happen.
We must show the world what we can do.
Audiences can only react to the work that is put out there. And sadly, at the present time the majority of cinemagoers will opt for big budget Hollywood fare over smaller British films.
That will not change of its own accord. It will only change by what we do.
And for it to change writers must write, actors and filmmakers must hone their craft, and we all must try to support and encourage each other rather than succumb to the need many have to see their peers fail. We must believe in ourselves and we must never give up.
For it is only our voices and our visions than can excite and change an audience's taste.
And believe it or not the industry needs us too. In fact it couldn't exist without us. For the danger in regurgitating what is working, and relying on tried and trusted formulas, means that films become distilled, stale, homogenised.
As we say on our homepage 'Talent is the life force of any industry. To block an industry's talent is to cut off its own blood supply.'
Despite the financial crisis and the subsequent decrease in budgets we, as creative minds, can still come up with ideas that overcome limitations. We can still write stories with a scale to match the heights of a director's dream. We still can and should be writing what is fresh, daring, dangerous, and produce films that frighten, inspire, disturb, amaze. Films about the passion of the human soul, the complexity of it.
We, in this country, come from a very long line of writers and artists. Our history is rich with it and the arts are an enormous part of our culture. It is our duty to carry on that tradition. There are no less talented people among us now than there were either 50 or 500 years ago. But sadly, difficulty, apathy and the vitriolic ridicule and sabotage of others so rampant on the internet means many of the most talented of people will go to their graves with their songs still inside them.
Why should we fight for something so difficult to attain?
Because it matters.
Filmmaking is an art, a tradition, just as meaningful and extraordinary as the theatre, painting, sculpture and the opera.
A troubled soul can still be reached in the quite confines of the cinema. It's an escape for some, a cathedral for others. It's where the lonely find company, the frightened find courage and the broken can find a taste for life again. Such is the power of film.
Cinema is life.
Cinema is life the way that sport is life.
Society would get by without cinema as it would get by without sport. Without the London Olympics and Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah. But life is about more than just existing.
There's practically a whole industry booming through the search for talented singers and a new wave of stars via 'The X-factor', 'Britain's Got Talent' and other such shows, yet the passion to find filmmaking talent seems sadly overlooked. Young filmmakers feel like the forgotten few.
And so the BFA aims to be that vehicle which currently doesn't exist. Committed to visionary or personal films and filmmakers – not just popcorn sellers. Celebrating and championing undiscovered and unconventional talent. Making it possible for the most gifted and extraordinary among you to find your way to shine.
In an economic climate that encourages us to never dare to dream. We'll encourage those of you with nothing but a dream to dream bigger. Remember, it all starts with one person alone in a room, who, despite the fact he or she has never done it before, has a voice that simply will not sit still inside them, and despite the disapproval of parents, the ridicule of friends and the resentment of peers, refuses to let life trample the self-belief out of them and commits to their creative ideas however difficult and frightening that may be.
Thank you for joining us in our endeavours to launch the BFA and make a difference. And always remember:
'The difference between the possible and the impossible is merely a measure of man's determination'