I have decide on “not to film school”. Why? Because I don’t have £20,000 for tuition fees.

Both film schools I have looked at offer scholarships, though it’s one scholarship awarded per intake and they only give scholarships to “People who show promise to be exceptional filmmakers”, which is fair enough, and people who have had at least a short film in the official selection for a reputable film festival, which is also fair enough. You don’t want to go giving a £20,000 a year scholarship to some dude who can’t turn a camera on or write a passage of dialogue.

Sure, the price can be looked at as pretty steep, but when you break it down and look at what you get for your money, you can see where that money goes. It’s a fair price, if you have the money.

I have decided to construct my own personal “Alex Durham’s Makeshift Homemade Film School” programme for the academic year of 2012/2013. Pupils: one. Me.

It can be done. Lack of money will not stop me from learning all I want to learn about filmmaking.

As it stands the programme will consist of drawing from the following resources:

  • Film Riot
  • Raindance
  • A reading list which I’ve already started forming and reading.
  • A watch list which I’m embarking on currently.
  • Setting myself deadlines.
  • Writing, shooting and directing shorts of various genres.
  • Mixers/Social events.
  • Collaborating with more people.
  • Writing every day.

A little more detail on the list:

FILM RIOT

Film Riot is hosted by Ryan Connolly who also writes, produces and directs along side his brother Josh, with the help of friends Bruno, Stark and many more. Connolly attended Full Sail University, Florida. He was told “you need to move to either New York or Los Angeles to ‘make it’ in the world of film”. He still resides in his native Florida and is making a huge mark on the world of film with his short film ‘Losses' and has his regular viewers in eager anticipation of his upcoming short 'Tell' which he has been working on for some time.

FR upload two episodes a week to their YouTube channel. The episodes are digestable and easy to understand “how-to” videos laced with comedy and a positive, encouraging vibe. The thing I like about FR, is theres an element of “I’m not going to do it all for you, so get creative and put the work in.” - it really is up to the viewer to make their project awesome.

In the few months I’ve been watching, I’ve learned more than I thought I could from a YouTube series. I’ll continue to watch and learn for as long as the show runs.

RAINDANCE

Raindance is based in London, founded by Elliot Grove, has locations all over the world. Their website houses a plethora of priceless advice, blogs, script suites and information all written by industry professionals. As if that isn’t good enough, Raindance run regular courses (long and short) for writers, producers, directors, editors at an affordable price. 

Once a year, Raindance hold the Raindance Indie Film Festival in London, then the British Independant Film Awards a few months later.

Essentially, Raindance is an indie film makers wet dream and you’d be incredibly foolish not to take advantage of everything they have to offer.

READING AND VIEWING LIST

Last week,  I spoke to someone at the Met Film School to ask for advice on whether I should apply or not, in the vague hope that I might get the scholarship. The advice was to write, shoot and work as much as possible and apply at a later date either when I have the money for the course, or am more elligable for the scholarship. All fair advice.

The gentleman that he was, he sent me an email with a list of books which topics include, directing, writing, shooting, industry practice, light and sound, as well as a few more. I already have a few of the books which I’ve read cover to cover. I’m going to choose one or two books from each topic to read and stick to them as somtimes I think there is such a thing as “too much advice”.

The viewing list contains about 100 films from every genre you could possibly think of. I’m proud to say I’ve probably seen about 40% of them, but the other 60% will be seen over the course of the next year or so. That counts as homework and research right?

As well as the reading/viewing lists, as if they weren’t enough, he copied in a bunch of links for job search websites, specifically for the film industry.

DEADLINES/WRITING/SHOOTING/GENRE

It is what it sounds like. I’m going to plan out my whole year so I know what I need to have done, and when I need it done by. I’m going to challenge myself when it comes to genres, characters, narrative, and every other aspect of film. I’ve written a few short films and I’m working on a feature at the moment, though they’re all along the same lines of “genre”, if you will. I want to challenge myself and say goodbye to the comfort zone.

The plan is to have projects on a four week rotation.

  • Week 1: Write a ten page short including XYZ.
  • Week 2: Work with actors. Rehearse and Shoot.
  • Week 3: Edit.
  • Week 4: Upload and share.

I’m aware that it doesn’t take a week to upload a ten minute short, but I have to work all of the above around a full time job.

With all of the above in mind, and if I am able to stick to that schedule, I should be averaging a ten minute short per month. Eventually being able to increase the work load from ten minutes to fifteen minutes, and so on.

MIXERS/SOCIALISING


Raindance run social mixers every now and then, enabling people to meet one another, chat and have a drink. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend a couple and meet as many people as possible.

I don’t exactly live by “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, but it doesn’t hurt to meet new people and make a good impression, show some initiative and get yourself out there.

COLLABORATIONS

I’m in talks with a friend at the moment about founding a new creative outlet together. I can’t say too much as it’s early days, but we have some interesting ideas which I’m looking forward to putting in to practice in 2012.

Down here in Portsmouth, I’ve met some fellow film buffs and we’ve been spit-balling a bunch of ideas. Shooting starts in 2012 on a few projects.

You don’t have to go it alone.

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Well, there you have it. My own personal film programme. Just because you might not have money, doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you want to do, it just means you have to go about it a different way. It was never going to be easy any way.

To sum up, my plan is to move to London in mid-2012 and put all of the above in to practice while watching as many films as humanly possible. I know people look at “I’m moving to London” and see it as a feign attempt to ‘make it’, but it’s where I want to be and I think I can learn a lot there. There are things that London can offer which other places just can’t.

While I’m there I plan to shoot shoot shoot and shoot some more while meeting as many people as possible, submitting to film festivals and trying to further myself constantly. Maybe after enough experience and time I can get that oh so lovely scholarship.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of the blog, thanks a lot for reading. It’s greatly appreciated.

I’m more than happy to share the reading/viewing lists with anyone who’s interested. Just shoot me an “ask” with your email and I’ll ping it on over.

I’ll let you know how all of the above goes. After all, this is what this blog is for.

Thanks for reading and once again, thanks for joining me on my journey.

Alex