Most people accept their graduate unemployment with grace: they sign on the dole, return home and look generally dishevelled and aghast at their employment prospects, while filling out copious amounts of applications for graduate schemes.
For some reason, and to the horror of my bank, I decided this was the best time for a bedroom start-up. So I bought some Ikea trestle tables and enlisted as many talented unemployed graduates as I could fit around them. I now run the British Student Film Festival, a national exhibition of student film showcasing unheard and under-appreciated British talent.
So why did I choose to lose out on the most valuable years accumulating intricate knowledge of Judge Judy cases, DNA results on Jeremy Kyle and whether or not Sharon from Hull will go back to her lying, cheating husband? Well, a few years ago I went to LA and studied at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for their summer program. After they established that I in fact didn't attend Hogwarts and understood what I meant when requesting a 'bin' - the latter took significantly longer - I was able to fully appreciate the opportunities on offer.
The wisdom that I took back from LA with me (other than the gem that Londoners don't wear heals because of the cobbled streets - obviously we're all living in Dickensian London) was that creativity is not something that can be qualified. This is why when Ken Loach recently argued that film should be judged on creative merit, not potential commercial success, I rolled up my sleeves and proceeded to bore everyone in my immediate vicinity to tears (initially misinterpreted as tears of joy): why can't something be commercially successful and have creative merit? Why is there such an 'us and them' mentality? The British film industry needs commercially successful films to grow and compete in the international market. Merit needs to be built upon how well you execute something, rather than abstract theoretical superiority. However, demonstrating your creativity is something that needs to be honed and developed. This is the crux of the British Student Film Festival's ethos.
Now, I am a true Brit: reserved and deeply cynical. The American approach caught me completely off-guard and early on I was even a little embarrassed by it. I could never have imagined that I would ever come home and try and convince people that 'possibility' was something you could 'just feel' whilst in Los Angeles, and would probably have internally cringed at the sound of it. Now after hours of therapy, I can comfortably say: I'm a convert.
The reason we launched the British Student Film Festival is to try and share this attitude further. It exists in the UK, but the voice is not nearly as loud as is should be. Too many students don't consider the fact that planning, writing, shooting and editing a film is an achievement. Maybe it's not perfect yet, but their craft will never be honed without active support and should certainly not be dismissed.
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