I’ve been making little films for the past 4 years but I know that the scale of the films I want to make is far bigger than what I’ve done thus far and, to do that, I want to work on teams that put those films out there. Films, for me, are those things we queue up and pay to see, desperately avoiding the glance at the overpriced confectionary as we make our way into massive rooms full of people all delightedly sharing a cultural filmic experience together. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some public screenings of my films to know that it’s in bustling picture houses that I want to display my wares, instead of lonely corners of the internet. However, the thing I’ve really loved about the small films I’ve made is how much heart and soul goes into them because they’re so personal. And so, it’s a certain type of cinema that I want to be part of making, one in which the munching of popcorn and the low hum of chatter doesn’t occur because the audience are too engrossed in the viewing spectacle. In short, it isn’t the action romp that interests me, but the films that have something real and human and worthwhile to say. Luckily for me, one such company just happened to be based just down the road; Warp Films, responsible for some most critically acclaimed British films of the past decade. I’ll leave the IMDb search to you, but I’ll give you a household name to start you off: This is England.
And so, for the month of June, I interned at Warp Films in Sheffield in an office position. My ambition is to work in the camera department eventually, but first and foremost my passion is films, full stop and so, I’m just happy to have had an opportunity with a film company, in any which role. It may not have been playing with cameras, but it taught me a lot, but probably not in the way that you’d expect. It taught me discipline, patience, professionalism and it reaffirmed the reality of filmmaking as a very tough industry to be involved with. Of course, there were moments of glamour, not least having the opportunity to work on a top secret early edit of the directorial debut of a household name, but I think that the most educational part of the whole experience was really the reality of hard work and doing your best with everyday tasks. I think that there are more than enough of those inspirational blogs and indie filmmaking success stories out there. So this one isn’t about overnight success and flamboyance, it’s about graft and the satisfaction of being a smaller cog in a bigger picture. I understand that I can’t go from making my small films to DP of a feature film in a flash, so it’s about the process of getting there.
Over the course of the month, I was given various tasks ranging from the likes of speaking to actors agents, to working on a BAFTA nomination showreel for one of the producers. And yes, of course, making tea. Without a single hint of jest, it’s this last one which proved to be the trickiest task of all. As part of the job description, I was tasked with making sure everyone had a cup of jolly warmth in their hand as they undertook various tasks. But, really, it got pretty nerve-wracking having to break the silence of hard work to disrupt people to offer them tea. It’s a silly little thing really and very cliché, but when you’re the intern and one of the most notable things about your presence is the tea you bring, you want to make sure it’s done right. Or at least, that’s what I thought. It’s important to say that I’m sure not one person minded the frequency or quality of my tea crafting, but to me, it felt mighty important. Maybe not because of the tea itself, but because of what it represented and the ability to do the unspectacular well, because of a belief in a bigger, slower spectacularity. So in my case, the tea might be an unspectacular task but the films that Warp Films make are spectacular and something that I want to do everything I can to help with.
For me, that’s the trade off about moving into making bigger movies and wanting to be part of a team; it isn’t about you, it’s about far more than that. And so, the thing I learnt was discipline, actually. Living in a flexible little bubble of university life and being a freelance filmmaker puts you in this unchallenged world where anything goes because you’re judge Judy and executioner. I’ve loved making the little films I’ve made, but the time has come for me to want to move onto larger, more important projects and looking for the real work which makes it to cinemas around the country. And so, that means hopping off the top rung of my own ladder to climb onto the first rung of another, larger ladder and dedicate my time to a harder climb. But I’d rather a slower ascent to loftier heights than a quicker trip to the distinctly average.
And so, my internship was wonderful because it was real and human, just like the films that I want to make. In an industry that trades in fiction, sometimes you’ve got to be realistic. If I want a career in films, it’s going to take time, patience and lots of work in between and in that time, the importance thing is to excel at the tasks you’ve been given. That’s how Warp Films got to where they are today, and that’s why they aren’t going to stop anytime soon, and will continue to grow. Forget the overnight success, I prefer the view that incessant hard work gets results. That’s what I learnt about the way that Warp Films have operated and that’s the way that I’m going to work.