If you’re ever near Elephant and Castle, you should have a nose around The Artwork Elephant! If you don’t already know, it’s a creative hub made from shipping containers, where you’ll find many a hidden gem – from cafes and bars to a flower shop, barbers and yoga studio. This week, we got the lowdown on one of those hidden gems; a film workshop known as The Film Collective. We got talking to Chloe, co-founder of Smashed Screen Films (the company running the workshop) to find out more.
Image: The Artwork Elephant
Firstly, tell us a little about the Film Collective
The Film Collective is a development workshop run by Smashed Screen Films; a start-up production company looking to support and encourage original, creative and ethnically diverse video content which we feel is lacking in the current on-screen landscape.
We invite independent filmmakers (be it actors, writers, directors, editors, producers etc) to come together to share their ideas and opinions, short screenplay drafts, first edits etc. We do this by fostering a safe space for people to gain and provide critical, well thought out feedback to help the artists to move forward confidently. Really it’s just a space to focus on your creativity for six hours, surrounded by like-minded individuals.
Why should people come along?
Our aim is to offer a solid block of creative playtime for people to really dig deep into their projects and get honest, structured feedback at the right time in their process. We believe the source of misrepresentation, lack of originality, and content that just missed the mark is through lack of sharing and preparation at the development stage.
We bring a variety of intelligent and creative individuals with a large spread of experiences into one room to break down your projects (or share their own to break) so it can be built into something stronger, more inspiring, and hopefully improved. And even if you don’t have a project to share, we encourage people to sign up to just hear other people’s creative ideas and share your creative opinions, which might hopefully spark your own projects along with possible collaborations.
What’s your favourite thing about writing/filmmaking?
Meeting people who are on the same wavelength. Production is a hard industry to be in; it requires hard graft, a lot of time and often doesn’t pay very much. You can easily spot the people who are passionate and dedicated to making it their life; the ones who are always working on creative projects, always have something going on, somewhere to be and someone to meet.
These people can inspire you, challenge you and push you to improve your own work, and you’re all in the same boat. Some films work, some films don’t, but we push on because it’s passion, it’s art, it’s looking to change something about the world, adding a little bit of you. People who are in it for the money lose sight of originality, that’s how you get all these huge franchises, sequels and remakes that people are quickly getting bored of.
Why is ethnic diversity so important to the goals of The Film Collective?
The last national consensus in the UK shows Ethnic Minorities make up about 13% of the population, but a recent report from the British Film Institute revealed ethnic minorities make up just 5.3% of the film production workforce, 3.5% of film distribution, and 4.5% of exhibition.
On screen, representation is slightly better, however a key problem is misrepresentation, the same tokenistic stereotyped characters constantly rehashed. Or alternatively, we’re often featured as side characters and often without names, or lines simply used as aides to reveal something about a main protagonist.
We believe a big driver of this is that the stories looking to represent us are not being told through our lens, with the right research and knowledge. This is where people of colour can take the lead and help shape society’s thinking for a more accurate picture of who we are. We also think a lot of cultural stories aren’t being told as people of colour living multi-faceted lives. We’re in a great position to help bring these unique narratives and experiences to the entertainment arena truthfully, bringing with it new talent, rich and fresh stories and an abundance of originality.
What advice would you give to a young, aspiring film maker?
- Luck is preparation meets opportunity.
- Half the job of making a film, is identifying people who can do something better than you can.
- Surround yourself with talented people and never be the smartest in the room.
- Always, always, always be open to listen and learn.
- Don’t take your team for granted. Filmmaking wouldn’t happen without all the individual cogs.
- MOST IMPORTANT: There is no perfect way to make a film. All you have to do is get started and everything will fall into place.
Do you have any favourite places or hidden gems in London town?
I’ve been to Flat Iron Square flea market which has recently opened, the food stalls are great for quick cheap bites, but the market is great! Particularly as a film enthusiast, there’s a wonderful little camera stall at the front with good 80-100 film cameras and Super 8’s all in working condition for really low prices. The rest of the market also has some great antique bits and pieces perfect for set props like vintage tobacco pipes, leather suitcases and heavy iron keys for old wooden doors.
If you’re interested in joining The Film Collective for a session, their next workshop will be at The Artwork Elephant on December 18 from 1pm-6pm. Let us know if you’ve visited The Artwork Elephant in the comments below.