These are troubled times. Hatred is on the rise and division seems to be the only constant in the news. Film -especially independent film- has a crucial part to play in this day and age. At the British Independent Film Awards, we honoured I, Daniel Blake, a film whose relevance and necessity is harrowing to contemplate and made with an ever-steady hand by our friend Ken Loach.
In light of the current climate, the BFI’s announcement of their investment plan for the next five years came as good news. The film business is undergoing such crucial changes that we’re now in the business of the moving image -or just images, really, and storytelling.
New funding opportunities is always good news for filmmakers, especially for independent filmmakers who are keen to tell profoundly new stories in breathtaking new ways. The fact that this is who BFI are targeting is terribly exciting.
Expanding their funding opportunities towards diversity means that a screenwriter is already thinking about a screenplay that will highlight tomorrow’s main social issues, those that will be vital to today’s youth. Opening up funding for stories set in the UK and outside of London means that the country’s representation will be broadened in equal measure. Even more exciting is that those opportunities come not just for filmmakers, but for storytellers using images, and not just focusing on theatrical releases.
The BFI’s 2017-2022 strategy means that our story horizons will be broadened in the UK. That also means that storytellers wanting to create tomorrow’s hit content will have to work even harder to make it. The stories will have to be more gripping and challenging, the technique will have to be ceaselessly more innovative. The one certainty you can count on is that you’ll need to work harder and harder to find your audience.
Remember, there’s never been a better time to make a film, and the BFI have clearly taken that into account. You can make a film with your phone, and it could even revolutionise cinematography. Now whatever your funding and budget is, you’ll be dealing with the same question: what story are you going to tell?