Compliment me directly and I will blush, however look impressed by something I’ve done and I will be super smug, because let’s face it, everyone loves a pat on the back from time to time. My love of a pat on the back has developed to such an extent my partner has named this particular trait ‘biscuit-seeking-behaviour’ in the sense of ‘well done, very impressive, have a biscuit,’ on occasion this is shortened to a simple ‘biscuit.’ Imagine my delight therefore when I discovered this week that in Hollywood film circles the accepted greeting of someone interested in your film is ‘I love your work.’ A greeting that is a compliment! That is too good to be true. And, of course, it is. Apparently ‘I love your work’ is a commonly accepted translation of ‘I don’t know who you are, I’ve not seen anything you’ve done so don’t ask me about it.’ Such positive duplicity may seem a common trait among an insecure industry but how refreshing – manners and politeness with a common acknowledgment that it is in fact bollocks. No need for anyone to be offended and everyone knows where they stand, which is a position of nobody, but at least someone has the good manners not to tell you that you are nobody, because they love your work.
I discovered this gem when chatting to film supremo Tom at the Global Health Film Festival in London. Tom and I were working as mentor/expert to a group of film makers who were developing pitches as part of a crossover lab linked to the festival. The gig was a group of mentors (Tom and a bunch of super whizz producers) would help these film makers develop an idea into an award winning pitch in two days. They would go on to compete for prize money to then make the film. My role was such to offer them expertise and guidance on their global health content. It was a pretty intense experience, but also very enjoyable, because not only did I get to see a lot of creativity which is always fascinating to me, but I got to pick some expert brains about the whole film making process. This is what I learned:
- I do have an elevator pitch. Bonus!
- Claire, aged 38 who lives in North London, reads the Guardian and occasionally the Daily Mail (but denies it) is the target audience of most documentary films.A 90 minute docu-drama with an inexperienced team is full of red lights (er, thanks Tom)
- Film-makers have an advanced idea about impact, they have Impact Producers for these things. If you are a film-maker or an academic interested in impact Britdoc’s impactguide.org is a treasure trove. I normally dodge these sort of guidelines, but next time you’re writing a Pathways to Impact doc check out the Britdoc Impact Flower (yes I can’t believe what I’ve come to either)
- A distribution and impact strategy is more important than a fancy camera
- I don’t really understand the 1 9 90 principle. I missed that bit.
And a bonus finding fact fans! Cinematographers/Directors of Photography are some of the best paid in the biz because they know their worth and they were one of the more unionised parts of the industry.
For more info on the Global Health Film Festival at the Royal Society of Medicine check out the website here http://www.globalhealthfilm.org/festival.html
For top tips from the super Britdoc visit www.impactguide.org
And to see what Tom does when not mentoring film-makers, check out his film about Polio eradication in Pakistan here http://everylastchildfilm.com/