I would like to start, as I do with most things, with a reference to Star Wars.
Obi Wan Kenobi congratulates Luke Skywalker on fending off the laser beams of a hovering remote. He says: ‘That’s good, you’ve taken your first step into a larger world’.
The first step is often the most challenging. You’re not sure if you’re making the right move. You consider whether that step is the right one. You’re afraid that you’ll make mistakes, or waste precious time. In all honesty you’re going to make mistakes and missteps, but the most important thing is you are following your passion and you are happy.
Being creative. Having ideas. Imagining places and people. This does not come naturally to everyone. By having the fledgling ideas for a story. Having the eye for setting up a camera shot. Having the confidence to become another person on screen. These are talents that can turn a film from being good to great.
Sam Cullis, the Director of Barnes Film Festival used to be my film teacher at school. He learnt his trade from a guy called Mr Wilkinson. Mr Wilkinson always used to say, ‘Movies are meant to move you’. It is something that has stuck with me. In all the times I have entered a cinema. As the lights have dimmed and the opening credits rolled by. I’m waiting to be moved. I’m waiting to have my world changed. I want my perspective to be challenged. I want to feel uncomfortable. Disturbed. Shaken.
And that is the magic of film. You can be sat in a ten screen multiplex or a local independent cinema. The effect will be the same. Your life will be different on leaving the cinema.
I was four years old when I saw Star Wars. I cannot remember much of my life before it. It’s an obsession. It has played a big part of who I am. Whenever I got back from a tough day at school my mum used to quote Obi Wan Kenobi, ‘Rest easy son you’ve had a busy day’. I had Star Wars trainers that flashed every time I walked. A Darth Vader pen that played notable Vader quotes. Star Wars Lego.
That film became my life. And it was made by a novice film-maker, with special effects made in a parking lot by students. It won six Oscars and changed the world of film forever.
Not everyone makes a film like George Lucas. But there are ways to get noticed and to hone your skills. The British film industry is booming at the moment and there is no better time to get involved. And this is where Barnes Film Festival comes in. The festival exists to promote the talents of young, budding filmmakers.
There will be the opportunity to network, to learn new skills and to see scintillating films. Just head to the website and find out about the events that are taking place: http://barnesfilmfestival.com/
If you’re still at school and love films. If you’re a film student and want to learn more about the art of film-making. If a friend or sibling or your child has an interest in film – let them know about Barnes Film Festival.
The theme this year is the ‘Blue Dot’. Named after the scientist and philosopher Carl Sagan’s famous speech. He talks about Earth being ‘a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam’. He levels us with the notion to ‘deal more kindly with one another, to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.’
Sagan challenged us to do better – and I challenge you to do the same. Submit a film. Attend an event. Make a movie that will move complete strangers. Your first step awaits. What are you waiting for?