We've been lucky enough to have been selected for Creative England's Elevator skills programme. The scheme is described as so, on Creative England's website:
"Elevator will give up to 15 award-winning makers of live action, documentary or animated shorts support to make the leap to feature films. Supported by Creative Skillset, the scheme will provide selected applicants with bespoke skills training and mentoring, alongside on-going career development, advice and guidance to help accelerate their careers to the next level."
As part of this scheme we got to sit down with Producer Ivana MacKinnon and formulate a bespoke career development plan that would help us make the leap to feature filmmaking.
The scheme has been incredible for us and we've got to spend time with some real industry pros.
Firstly we got to sit down with Director Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky, Regeneration, The Escapist, ITV's The Village) and discuss his career for a few hours. Gillies is a great guy and was really generous with his time. It was a very inspirational and honest chat, and we came out feeling very excited about making the jump to feature film making.
Next we got to spend a day at ARRI Media in Uxbridge with Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (Hunger, Shame, The Place Beyond the Pines) which was just incredible. Sean is a genius and anyone who has seen his work will know that but he's also an fantastic teacher. We spent the first part of the day discussing his processes, how he preps, how he works on set, then moved onto more technical teaching working with an Alexa and top of the range ARRI lights and Cooke Prime lenses. It was a brilliant day and we feel it's really helped us step up a gear when it comes to collaborating with a cinematographer.
For the next couple of days we were at RADA on a Working With Actors course taught by Sue Dunderdale. This was a really interesting day as it gave us insight into how they are taught at Drama schools like RADA, which is something we've never had access to before. It really gives you even more respect for the incredible job actors do when you see the prep they put into even the smallest of scenes. We also got to workshop a scene from our short film script Old Habits... and work with seasoned TV actor Richard Albrecht and Alan Ford (Brick Top in Snatch!) which was great fun. Richard came with some great classical music suggestions for our short and Alan even brought his own gun props with him! It was great that they came to the workshop with such enthusiasm and charm, and the scene played really well.
Next up was a day with our mentor, Director Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Pushing Tin, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Prince of Persia, Four Weddings and a Funeral). Mike is a real diamond guy with such a wealth of experience. He was so candid about his career and his advice I'm sure will prove to be invaluable. He's had such a varied career from intimate indie to Hollywood blockbuster, it was incredible to be able to learn from him. We have another couple of days with Mike coming up, one focusing on the translation of script to screen with some of his films and then a further day on his rehearsal techniques.
Finally we should be spending a day on the set of BBC Drama's Silk in the next coming weeks which should give us valuable insight into TV production.
Overall the Elevator scheme has been a real dream scenario that we couldn't have predicted. Truly inspirational and has boosted our confidence and knowledge ten fold as we move towards feature film making. We'd highly recommend this scheme to anyone who is looking to do the same.