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BFI Film Academy 6: Callum Bancroft

Callum Bancroft is one of the participants on our sixth BFI Film Academy. Having almost completed the course, we asked Callum what he got up to during the academy… 

My Time at The BFI Academy

It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to produce your own film. So when I found out about the BFI Academy and how it gave 18 young people aged 16-19 the opportunity to create their own short film that was funded by the BFI and then screened at HOME, I was eager to apply. Finding out I had gotten a place on the academy was overwhelming, filled with a sense of pride I felt one step closer to becoming the director and filmmaker I want to be.

Though we did produce our own short film Pushing Buttons, the academy also provided us with film theory lessons on Wednesday evenings. During these sessions we learnt about the origin of cinema and film, from the Lumiere Brothers’ technical progression to the surrealism of Georges Méliès.  Additionally, we looked at different film movements throughout the 20th century, for example, the French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realism and their impact on modern cinema and filmmaking. I felt that during this time this acted as a catalyst when approaching the production of Pushing Buttons. Inspired by the different approaches of filmmakers before me I felt that I brought a creative and abstract outlook to the production of the film and along with the others on the academy, created something to be proud of.

Before the production of Pushing Buttons began, the academy provided workshops on the different roles within the production of a film led by those who have industry-level experience in those fields. The workshops were very influential on me because they allowed me to develop my practical skills and obtain a further understanding of aspects of film that I was unaware of. Bart Piekarski’s sound workshop taught me about the importance of sound within film post-production and the difference it makes from a first assembly and a film’s final cut. However, I am incredibly thankful for the workshops ran by all the professionals gaining advanced experience in a variety of different elements of film. I believe I can apply it in the future to my own projects.

As a collective we decided that the setting of the film would be a lift and that the narrative of the film would focus on the intertwining lives of a distinctly diverse group of people. Though simplistic sounding I feel this gave us a strong basis to expand into a surrealist direction. Having the opportunity to write and direct my own scene was extremely exciting because I could express myself through the art form I am most passionate about and convey my creative vision effectively. I found directing to be the most enjoyable aspect of the filming because it furthered my understanding of the importance of all the roles within the production and allowed me to be a part of something bigger. I feel I fulfilled this role successfully by ensuring those around me felt confident in their role and by bringing an eccentric and inventive attitude to my own roles.

From the BFI Academy I have learnt so much about the filmmaking process and met a group of amazing young people. I feel that Pushing Buttons is an incredible achievement and I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of it.

Find out more about our BFI Film Academy, head here.

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