Help for budding filmmakers in London

Film London is holding a series of events for filmmakers who want to take part in Microwave, a feature film fund supported by the BFI, BBC Films and Creative Skillset…reports Rekha Patel for Asian Lite News

London's historic Tower Bridge
London’s historic Tower Bridge

Microwave offers support, training and professional mentoring as well as production funding. The roadshows will take place across London, as well as three day-long masterclasses.

One of these masterclasses (the one on 15 June, which takes place at Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street E1 6LS from 9am-6.30pm) is geared specifically towards black, Asian and minority ethnic filmmakers as part of Film London’s push to address the lack of diverse talent entering the industry.

Two feature films have been commissioned and awarded £100,000 each through the latest round of Microwave.

The projects, chase thriller Kill Her Witch and psychological horror The Visitor, also receive £10,000 development funding plus mentoring from industry experts and continued support from the Microwave team. The scheme challenges filmmakers to produce a feature for up to £150,000, with the teams raising the remaining finance. Both films are expected to go into production later this year, and for the first time, completed projects can access up to an additional £25,000 funding to support distribution and exhibition.

The award-winning scheme is backing two new filmmaking teams following its first successful slate, which produced Hong Khaou’s Sundance-winner Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw and Shifty, from Eran Creevy who has since delivered two multi-million pound features including the upcoming Autobahn.

Film London launch a call for applications for the next round of the scheme, with London’s filmmaking talent urged to mark the Tuesday 14 July deadline in their calendars. Seeking bold, creative voices from across London, Film London aims to exceed 2014’s record by engaging with over 500 ambitious London filmmakers through a proactive and targeted outreach programme. It also continues its commitment to champion diversity by longlisting at least 50% of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) filmmakers.

Selected from an unprecedented 160 applications, the two unique films launch bold voices and will challenge the perception of what microbudget films are capable of achieving.

Kill Her Witch brings BAFTA-nominated writer/director Faye Gilbert and producer Yaw Basoah together for their third collaboration, continuing on from their BFI funded short The Line. Set in a dystopian future, the film follows two sisters as they run for their lives across hostile territory

The Visitor, a psychological horror exploring family relationships, evolved from two similarly-themed short films, The Girls and The Rain Horse (also produced with Film London, demonstrating the potential of the agency’s comprehensive talent development strategy), from brothers Sebastian Godwin (writer/director) and Hugo Godwin (producer). In this debut feature, a father returns to his family home in rural England to introduce his young girlfriend to his children. Her arrival to a seemingly idyllic setting uncovers some dark and disturbing secrets, from which a battle of survival ensues.

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Microwave exists to champion and develop London’s boldest and brightest storytellers. Our six shortlisted projects were inspiring, challenging and made for a very difficult decision, and it really brought home how far each project had progressed from application to commission. With Kill Her Witch and The Visitor we’ve selected two superb films that demonstrate exactly the kind of original and distinctive vision we look for, and in the case of the Godwin brothers it is particularly heartening to be working with filmmakers whose talent we’ve nurtured through our shorts schemes. Our ambition is to deliver exciting new talent into the industry, so while we continue working with the two successful teams, we will also be scouring the capital for more talented storytellers for the next round of Microwave.”

In addition to championing homegrown talent, Microwave International sees the scheme exported overseas, as Film London partners with the Malta Film Commission, India’s Cinestaan Film Company and the British Council. Romantic comedy 20,000 Reasons has been commissioned through the Maltese iteration of the scheme and is due to premiere in late 2015. Meanwhile, five feature films will be developed through Microwave International: Shakespeare India with one set to be developed for global release as part of the international Shakespeare400 on Screen celebrations in 2016, thanks to £250,000 invested by Cinestaan Film Company and support for the Microschool from the British Council.