BFI Film Academy: Rob’s Story

Rob is one of the participants on our second BFI Film Academy. Here he shares his opinion of the experience so far…

Working with the BFI Film Academy has been a valuable and interesting experience. Over the past few weeks, me and around fifteen other applicants have been working on a short film whilst receiving guidance and support from filmmaking professionals. The first session involved us brainstorming for ideas with guidance from a dedicated writer. Everyone was allowed to throw their ideas into the pot until we came up with an original idea for a short film. This was a very enjoyable part of the filmmaking process as it gave us all a chance to collaborate with other talented writers and artists and it gave us the opportunity to have our ideas heard.

After we came up with a solid and original idea for a short film, two of our mentors went away and wrote the screenplay. It allowed us to see all of our ideas executed in a professional manner in a professional script which is a rare treat for any young filmmaker and a valuable learning experience for any young screenwriter. The next step was storyboarding where we drew up scenes from the screenplay. This was another great learning experience as it allowed us to see the words in the screenplay transformed into pictures intended for the big screen.

Having completed the screenplay and storyboard we were then ready to start production on the short film. First we were given an introduction to all the major aspects of filmmaking I.e. sound, camera etc. and we had a lot of support in developing our skills in these areas. After learning the basics we were ready to start shooting. On the first day of shooting we arrived on location and started work dressing the set in order to make the location look the way it was written in the script. This gave us the feeling of working on a professional set and allowed us to familiarize ourselves with a studio atmosphere.

When it came to the actual filming we were each assigned roles to take on and we would take turns in performing all the major roles so that we could experience all aspects of the shooting process. The roles were; camera assistant (shot logger), clapper loader, camera operator, sound recordist, boom operator and director. The aspects I particularly enjoyed were camera, sound and directing. I enjoyed working with sound as we were using professional sound equipment and were being helped out by an incredibly passionate sound man. I also liked directing as it gave me a chance to improve my leadership skills amongst a film crew.

For me the most enjoyable part was working with camera as Cornerhouse had hired a professional actor for the lead role. It is very rare for young filmmakers to see good acting in front of a camera as good actors are few and far between and they usually cost money. I was operating the camera on a particularly emotional scene and the actor gave a great performance which actually made me feel quite emotional seeing as though I had never captured such a performance on camera before.

Overall this filmmaking project has enabled me to progress with my filmmaking skills in a way I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to and it is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wishes to work in the film business.

Read Joe’s story here

Read Steph’s story here