Interview with Discover Film
PQATV interviews Jaine Green, Senior Vice President of discover.film and PQA Film Festival 2018 & 2019 jury member.
Autumn is upon us and I’m delighted to have been asked back to judge the PQA Film Festival and, as the nights draw in, what better pastime than watching a surprising selection of short films?
When not immersed in the wonderful world of PQA films I’m Head of Content at discover.film, a hub for all things connected with short film. We run one of the largest short film festivals in the world, distribute to planes, trains, theatres and television and, have a short film channel available on all devices. Most importantly, we have a large and lively network of filmmakers who regularly meet, collaborate and support each other which for us is key. The secret to bringing short film out from the shadow of features is working together to raise both standards and awareness and I believe it’s never too early to start instilling good working practices and values.
Young filmmakers, producers, writers, creatives, crews and acting talent are the future of Britain’s film industry, a vital fresh blood line we must support and nurture if we hope to continue to produce some of the most sought after content in the world.
Short film is a uniquely valuable medium for people of all ages and backgrounds to voice what’s on their minds or simply entertain, providing the ideal platform to express yourself. For young people in particular short film is unrivalled – it can be made cheaply and quickly, shot on a phone, and is easy to share with others. For a group in society who have growing concerns about the future of our planet and related politics yet largely feel under-represented in places of power, stigmatised and misunderstood or patronised short film offers an essential uncensored voice. For this reason I know whatever the students of PQA are going to throw at me it’s going to be interesting.
Once I’ve fed the dog and armed myself with a large mug of tea it’s with an exciting sense of the unknown that I open my laptop and dive into the fantastical kaleidoscope of young people’s imaginations.
The hundreds of submissions have already been whittled down to the top 40 or so by the time I start to view I know I’m in for a treat.
For discover.film I watch up to 10,000 films a year so you’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve seen it all – not so, and nothing reminds me of this more than when I start watching the first few PQA submissions. Within minutes I’ve been thrown from a zombie apocalypse to a pirate ship, watching poor santa ‘get what’s coming’ and been squished through a time vortex and, by the time I’m out the other side, my tea’s gone cold and my dog is snoring softly at my feet.
Time to put the kettle on again and grab a chocolate biscuit for round two.
Actors younger than my passport knock out performances that make me laugh out loud, two minutes later I’m singing along to a catchy number written by a young person barely in double figures. Age is clearly not a factor when it comes to raw talent.
I’ll admit to being a tough critic and I can’t pretend that I think all films are award-worthy; in a few cases poor production values let down great performances, at times under-par acting kills a good script and occasionally no matter what the cast or crew pull out the bag there’s no saving a bad idea. But this only serves to remind me of two things – first filmmaking is all about team work, from the runner to the director, from the makeup department to the lead actor – without each member giving their all the end product will end up lacking. This is a valuable lesson for people wanting a career in the industry – to become the best you need to work with the best and to work with the best you need to be your best.
The second lesson is that film making is not all about winning awards. Awards are few and far between so there has to be a more fundamental drive to dedicate so much time and energy to any project. I believe the reason for making any short film is what you takeaway from the experience; the fun, the friendships, things you learn, the memories and the satisfaction of creating something out of nothing, of putting your stamp on the world, of saying something important or simply entertaining. That’s what I’m reminded of when I see the tremendous enthusiasm all the PQA students throw into each and every project – it makes me wish I was a kid again making a short film – they scream fun. The completed film itself should be the award and the memory the gold ribbon that binds it to the entire cast and crew.
So I hope all students and tutors wear their films with pride because it’s no mean feat completing one and there is many a professional sitting on their sofa talking about great ideas but never actually making them – already each and every one of the PQA students can at the very least declare ‘we did it – we didn’t just talk about it – we made it happen’. For that, I both applaud and thank you.
Saying that, people rightly do love their hard work, talent and excellence recognised so awards are a great way of raising standards in all industries as people strive to win.
So it’s a tremendous responsibility being part of the team that make sure credit is given where credit is due and we all take this role seriously as we are putting our industry’s future in young hands.
I’m not going to spoil it my naming any of my favourites – of which there were many – everyone should enjoy their moment in the sun and be proud of their accomplishments because competition was extremely tough. I will say though that age was not a determining factor when it came to great performances and I loved it best when the filmmakers added imagination to escape often restricted locations.
Overall not only do I see the quality go up each year, most important I see the fun go up.
It would not be fair to end this blog without a big shout out to all adults who clearly put in as much time and energy as the students both behind and in front of camera, and who putting their egos aside jump into the action – secretly, I believe, becoming kids again themselves. Hats off to you all and hopefully I’ll see you all again next year.
Congratulations to you all.