The last national survey of cinema revealed the highest numbers of film-goers since the 1970s: nearly 200 million Brits headed to the cinema in 2009. Cinema numbers have steadied or grown across the country; this is not an industry which is teetering on the brink of collapse, but one which contributes approximately £4.3 billion to the UK economy.
In 2011 independently made British films accounted for 13 per cent of UK box office takings – and many film festivals nationally are reporting bigger turnouts than they’ve ever seen. Philip Ilson, a man who by his own admission fell into the film industry, is optimistic about the future for those who want to get into the industry. His short film festival just reported the biggest audiences since its inception 10 years ago.
According to Philip the Internet hasn’t damaged the industry, making it instead a more vibrant experience. The convergence of film and the online community has meant filmmakers need to reconsider how they approach their project: "filmmakers need to be aware both are very relevant, the online life of a film and the festival life, and the public screening life of a film."
"Now, it is very easy to get reasonably good equipment cheaply, and just to make your own stuff."
Each year Philip is sent over 1,200 short films for the London Short Film Festival. Only 300 make the final cut: “It’s really difficult to say why I select what I select; all I would say to filmmakers is ‘be honest’.”
A short film is more likely to have an impact if it’s clear the creators are passionate about their subject.
"You see so many films where people just show off their skills, and show off the fact they could probably make a feature film. Whereas I think people should just concentrate on doing what’s right for them.”
One person who's doing that, and utilising all that modern technology has to offer, is Charlie Lyne. Prolifically talented – in a media, social network, film critic medium – recently Charlie decided to take his affection for the teen movie genre and make his own contribution.
One of the ways he was able to realise his passion was through Kickstarter, a crowd funding website, which enabled him to gather the necessary funds: coming to just over 12 grand. According to Charlie though, Kickstarter was vital to him in another aspect as well: “Amazing as it is as a funding mechanism, I think it’s also brilliant reassurance.”
Having never made a film before, never mind a feature length film, one of Charlie’s biggest fears was that perhaps no-one might want to see his finished product at the end of all the graft. “If there was no money side of it at all, it would still be an amazing tool, for five hundred people saying to you: ‘look, if you make this I will watch it. I can’t promise I’ll like, but I’m definitely interested.’”
For people like Philip and Charlie – one established in the industry and one just starting out – there’s a neat symmetry to their involvement in the industry, crystallised in their participation in the BAFTA Filmmakers Market tomorrow. It will showcase advice from the both of them about getting a toe-hold on the industry, and their experiences. But ultimately, as Philip says, 'it’s all about passion'.