London South Bank University is a strategic partner of the BFI, with connections with the BBC, iFeatures, Creative England and Channel 4. Associate Professor of Film and Media and Course Director for the BA Film Practice, Patrick Tarrant discusses the school’s inspiring Showcase Screening at ASFF 2019: Routes to Industry: Connections for All.
ASFF: What types of films are you bringing to ASFF 2019, including genres, styles and subject matters?
PT: The films are diverse in their content and style – in part because the films respond to a range of different assessment briefs, but also because these briefs are designed to facilitate the drives and ambitions of a diverse body of students who have ideas to share. We will be presenting dramas, portraits, a video essay, non-fiction and non-narrative films. These films represent the elderly, the disabled and the scarred along with non-binary, queer and non-normative representations of humanity.
ASFF: Can you expand on the key themes featured in your showcase?
PT: A concentration on the physicality of bodies in motion gives rise to contemplative, heartfelt studies, liberating life choices and probing portraits of subjects occupying diverse cultural landscapes. But it is the way these subjects help to rattle the moorings of our received cinematic landscapes that makes them especially pleasing companions for a seated journey undertaken in a darkened theatre.
ASFF: What is your chosen topic for the discussion, and why is it important to foreground in 2019?
PT: Our topic for discussion is the relationship between collaboration, specialist skillsets and routes to industry. Our philosophy is one that recognises that there is not one route to a career in film since the industry is far too vast and varied, and, significantly, is in constant need of being refreshed by people with new ideas about what is effective and what is right. Indeed, it is important to ask not only who the film industry is for, but what it is for in times like these. Students need to feel confident that they are acquiring the necessary connections and skills to succeed, but they need to feel confident in their critical faculties above all so that they can negotiate a complex world and carve out their own route to a satisfying career.
ASFF: How significant is the short form to emerging filmmakers, and how is it changing in the 21st century?
PT: Emerging filmmakers keen to make an impact are largely reliant on short form work to demonstrate their unique voice to potential collaborators. Filmmakers with a successful short can secure agents, commission new shows, grow their identity within the community and meet others in the industry at networking events and festivals. The advent of SVOD and other popular digital streaming platforms allows filmmakers to reach a bigger audience and even sustain a career producing high quality short films for online audiences. One of the challenges of the 21st century is making productive but meaningful distinctions between online video content and filmmaking, where the latter continues to contribute to, and proceed under the broad banner of, the cinema, albeit in an expanded sense that includes both curated and non-curated online content.
ASFF: The cinematic landscape is constantly growing to incorporate new media and techniques. What future projects are your students working on?
PT: Our second-year students will be collaborating with students from Ryerson University in Toronto on a module called International Live Brief. This is a very exciting expansion of our collaborative networks that allows students to work with real world clients and address existing problems or briefs. It promises to give students wonderful new challenges to think globally and to utilise modern communications technologies to both collaborate and deliver creative outputs.
ASFF: What are you most excited about screening and attending at this year’s festival?
PT: We look forward to meeting new students, educators and industry practitioners in order to further develop our network of collaborators and partners. We are excited to learn more about the broader educational market along with new cultural and technological developments in the media industries. We look forward to demonstrating how the diversity of our delivery and filmmaking briefs can generate fascinating synergies and surprises on the big screen.
London South Bank University’s Showcase Screening Routes to Industry: Connections for All takes place 8 November. Find out more here.
Lead image: Ethan McDowell, Lúbtha.