Talking shop yesterday with some up and coming artists and artisans of African and Caribbean heritage, we reflected on how much things have changed for people who want to tell stories through the medium of film.
I explained to them that I started out after leaving Music College, aiming to develop a considerable body of work as a film composer. A particularly stressful experience made me change my mind about this ambition, even though I have still interacted with film and multimedia work at several points in my career. Why was it so difficult to work with film makers at that point in time?
One of the main issues was the cost of making films on celluloid, which limited the number of practitioners who could gain access to the funds needed to produce anything. Whenever a Black British film maker got the funds to go ahead in those days, the world around them would have to grind to a halt, to accommodate their hang ups and other issues. Nowadays the relatively inexpensive options of making films with digital cameras and mobile phones have changed the terms of engagement for everyone.
In conversations with film cognoscenti – especially academics, I have witnessed the thoughts and feelings of disdain that many of them have for YouTubers. It is obvious that the DIY ethos of YouTube channels is at the simplistic and possibly crude end of the film making spectrum, but the fact that anyone can get access to affordable equipment, make a short piece about something they feel passionate about and also have an outlet to share it with others should serve as a source of optimism for film makers everywhere.
How do people who have no access to expensive gear get a chance to tell their stories? Why shouldn’t their stories be seen and heard? Who decides what information should be shared with the world?