Digital has unleashed a global new wave of no- and micro-budget film-makers. Today you don’t need money to make films, you just need talent and access to the know-how.
The old impediments to getting films seen are fast disappearing too. Once film-makers had to pay the BBFC in the region of £1,000 for a feature length DVD certificate; with a standard bundle of extras easily doubling that. And censorship costs didn’t just hit no-budget features; curators, from festival programmers to regular short film night organisers, have long been in the position to make ‘best of’ compilation DVDs on demand – if it wasn’t for the BBFC.
But now DVD’s are in terminal decline, and on-line that’s all irrelevant anyway. Now, with platforms like ‘Distrify’, features and short-film compilations can be made available directly to audiences – and if people like them they can help them reach more people by embedding the films on their Facebook pages and blogs.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems, though. No-budget features, even those which have enjoyed huge on-line success, are ignored by the mainstream media – unless they’re backed by multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. As a result film-makers have often resorted to endlessly self-promotion and spam on facebook, twitter and email. In the process integrity seems to have flown out of the window: cast, crew and close friends of the producer/director, now so routinely post ‘reviews’ on everything from IMDB to LoveFilm that it’s become counter-productive. Film-makers aren’t getting the serious and considered feedback they need in order to improve their craft, and audiences have no idea whose recommendations to trust. And that’s all a matter of curation.
NWNW will be establishing an on-line independent repertory cinema with a mission to screen the best new-wave features from the North West. Films will be selected by a panel of festival programmers and established film-makers; and each film, whether selected or not, will be receive an honest appraisal.
Curation isn’t just the key when it comes to features, it’s the key to everything: from collections of short films to collating essential information. The internet is awash with articles on everything from DIY distribution to DLSR equipment, and from insider information on the industry to sample contracts which often seem inappropriate because the pre-date what people are actually doing now.
But the lack of any trustworthy centralised resource means that film-makers are forever having to reinvent the wheel. NWNW is doing something about this by establishing knowledge banks of links covering all the key areas which use the latest and most user-friendly software.
So that’ pretty much what NWNW is: cinema/magazine/resource bank/news service devoted to the new wave of indie film-makers and audiences from Cumbria to Cheshire and everywhere in between.
What exactly is this NWNW term?
The “North West New Wave” is something that began to spring up in the regional press around 2008/2009 to initially describe a number of features and shorts being made in the region. Films had always been made across the country, but what made this wave of films different was that all of them were classed as “low/no budget” films, but they all achieved national or international exposure in some fashion, despite their circumstances of their low budget origins. These film-makers also became aware of each others efforts, and combined their passions and resources to help each other out, coming together to discuss and solve their mutual problems and shared experiences.
It was previously only thought possible to make a half decent film and gain critical success and exposure by receiving sponsorship or film funding from the UK Film Council or one of its regional agencies; these filmmakers collectively proved that this was not the case.
New technology played a key part in all of this, digital filmmaking kit of a professional standard is now much more accessible to any would be filmmaker, you literally need a camera and a computer to start. The internet provided alternative distribution models for those who are “locked out” of the current (still, sadly) restrictive UK Film Industry.
The creative drive of people in the North West was the other missing factor. Not everybody is eligible for official film funding; but this does not mean that you can’t make your films, and the NWNW filmmakers simply got on with it with a “do it yourself” (or rather “do it with others”) attitude to filmmaking.
There seemed to be a new creative film focus in the North West, the region already gaining exposure due to Media City and the BBC moving to Salford in 2011. The “North West New Wave” is not a group of individuals, organisations or particular films, rather it is an attitude of collective, positive collaboration.
As such, http://www.northwestnewwave.org.uk was set up to catch the wave of press activity being generated and to sustain it going forward. Today pour website exists to showcase, support and promote any and all films being made in the region; but with a strong positive focus and those who are doing so independently.
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