Leeds School of Arts

Adapting to take account of Covid-19, the 2021 format has evolved from its usual 10-day format to a series of “mini festivals” between April and September. It’s hoped that some later events may be able to run face-to-face but the festival’s first block will start online only from April 23rd – 27th.

This chunk of the programme will see the return of the popular Independent Filmmakers competition which features Northern Film School students and alumni. There will also be a virtual screening of JFK alongside an interview with its legendary director Oliver Stone. Workshops, virtual experience events and the annual industry day will also all take place online.

While we’ve all got used to virtual events over the last year, how has teaching filmmaking in the midst of a pandemic had to adapt? As well the challenges could there be some surprise wins for those studying at the school at this toughest of times? BA (Hons) Filmmaking Course Director Julius Ayodeji thinks so.

“Practical, practical, practical! The BA Filmmaking course at the Northern Film School (NFS) is very practical. We believe that you’ll only really ‘get’ the lessons imparted in the classroom setting when under the real pressure of making the film, on set, with the actors, in the rain and wind and when you’re a bit behind time-wise than planned.

As tutors we love being on set watching students cope and thrive and struggle to achieve the collective vision for the film under these pressures. That’s when the real learning starts and the love of film making is embedded.

Now, how have we approached this during the pandemic? As tutors, technicians, support staff we have years and years of both industry and teaching experience. This was something everyone, staff & students were facing at the same time, for the first time and the constant goal has been how do we still get the stories we tell onto the screen?

Using industry covid guidelines adapted for a university setting, I’m glad to say I’m writing this on the set of a final year film. After lots of hard work, effort and planning, planning, planning, all our filmmakers, in years one, two and three are either currently filming or due to film over the next few weeks.

Filmmaking is a never-ending series of creative problem-solving. The challenge of getting the idea from ‘your’ head and heart to the head and hearts of the audience. Facing that challenge is what filmmakers do daily. Working with the performers, all of the kit and processes, policies and planning is the filmmakers’ vain attempt to try and grab some semblance of control of this communication challenge. As you can imagine, over these last 12 months this has been even harder than ever.

Northern Film School Production

I was at an industry event recently, online of course, and one of the speakers talked about how this generation of student filmmakers are going to be the most prepared generation ever. If you can make films in a pandemic, the resilience, resourcefulness, preparation, flexibility, determination, and patience that has to be shown is real preparation for industry. We change the world by taking part, engaging with what’s in front of us and somehow translating this into the stories we tell. The films you will be watching on your screens over the next couple of years, and ones we may see in future Harrogate Film Festivals will act as really good testaments to these true, real-world skills gained by NFS filmmakers and filmmaking students all over the world.”

Harrogate Film Festival

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