It dawned on my fairly recently what a long hard struggle it is being an independent artist, possible more so being an independent filmmaker. I thought, if only I REALLY knew what it was like in the world of filmmaking would I have done things differently? I’m not sure. In these articles I will document how things are in the indie film world. I plan to shoot a feature next summer. Will it happen? HOW will it happen? Well, dear reader, with any luck you shall be privy to the process, the ups and downs, the ins and out, the triumph and despair of such ventures.
I first decided I wanted to become a filmmaker when I was at college. For a while before that I knew that I didn’t quite think in the same way as my peers. I think I wanted to be a pop star but not playing an instrument, being able to write a song or even hold a tune put paid to that. Then I saw a few films that left a mark on me. I saw how film was going to become my form of expression. It was more than that though. It wasn’t just about telling a story, it was about creating a FEELING. Even now, I’m not interested in art that just tells stories or in art for art’s sake. I need to discover a FEELING. I think that’s it, my overriding desire as a filmmaker is to create a feeling in films. That’s the only way I can explain it, at least for now.
My first thoughts were ‘how will I make it in this industry?’ A mistaken thought. There is no film ‘industry’. Hasn’t been for a long time. Not in the UK anyway. Eventually I realised that there are creative people who work on films and filmmakers who create films from the bottom to the top. I realised, after a brief flirtation in the erm, ‘industry’ that it was the latter camp I fell into. So from now on it was a case of working full time to pay the bills but filmmaking was always my REAL career.
And that’s when the dawn hit me. I was an outsider. My role was to pull various fragments together from inside my head and from the real word to make things happen. Years of hard work, years of working as an outsider to, well, pretty much everything. The long slog. This is a potted history, I will reveal more about these films, and the process of making them, over time. First up, I made a few short films with varying degrees of success. No funding, just using what was available to me. Even back then it became fairly clear to me that public funding was a tricky issue. I don’t have anything against public funding at all. It is fairly obvious that it’s a deeply flawed system though. Still, that’s a discussion for another day.
After a while it dawned on me that I needed to make a feature film. Public funding simply wouldn’t be forthcoming for what I wanted to do so I set off to the Arctic to make a documentary about life up there. How does that work? Well, I volunteered for a charity and that effectively paid for my film. The in-kind budget was around 10,000UKP. Naturally, as is the way being an indie, I did the project for free. Which was fair enough, of course, nobody asked me to do it. It was my own project. The film took some time to edit but ‘East 3 – Exploring a Frozen Frontier’ premiered in New York in 2007, went onto play in Chicago, toured the UK and then screened on UK television. I was even interviewed about it on BBC Newsroom South East.
A few more short films followed (by now I was getting better at promoting them and they were all broadcast on UK TV). The method and philosophy remained the same, shoot with what I had to hand, create a feeling. This year I realised I had gone as far as I could with my old short films and so packaged them up into a compilation DVD ‘Caged Fire – The Short Films of Mr Young’ It felt right to say goodbye to these films as I now need to focus on a new set of objectives. Yes, more short films but a feature film too.
Now, we come too making the second feature. This time, a narrative film. The question is, ‘how does one get from where I am now to making a feature length story?’ Will it even work out? I have no idea. Not yet. I guess this diary will reveal all.
So, would I have done things differently? I doubt it. It’s very hard but also very rewarding when you follow your own path. Right now the only genuine path for the independent filmmaker is the one you make yourself. It’s a wild path with only whispers in the wind to help. With any luck though I might see some paths that have been cleared already and I certainly hope, with the wise and not so wise words in this diary, I may just clear a path or two for you.
You can buy both ’East 3 – Exploring a Frozen Frontier’ and ‘Caged Fire – The Short Films of Mr Young’ here: