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Nick Broomfield – A Life in Documentary Filmmaking

Studying on our TV Production Technology and Film Production Technology courses you’ll not only have access to industry-connected tutors, but also get to learn from and meet some of the biggest names in the Film and TV industry. During Industry Week our students met legendary filmmaker Nick Broomfield and they were the first audience in the world to see an exclusive trailer for his new film Whitney: Can I be me? premiering this month.

Before heading into his workshops, Nick took the time to talk to us about his career, future projects and what advice he has for our students.

How did you get into documentary filmmaking?
I was always curious. When I was young I had a little camera – like a stills camera – and I remember being an exchange student in France with not much to do, so I just went around taking lots of pictures. I saw that I was enjoying it and was actually really good at it. I also really enjoyed chatting to the people I was photographing and finding out who they were.

What is the first documentary-style film you remember doing?
I did a film called Who Careswith a friend of mine in Liverpool, which actually turned out pretty good. We used a little wind-up camera – a little Berlex – I think I was like 19 and it took a little while to shoot. We were shooting for three months and it turned into an 18-minute film which took me a year and a half to cut, so that should be an encouragement to students – films tend to take a long time.

What is key to conducting a good interview?
Interviews are more like conversations and if they feel like interviews then that’s already a problem. More than anything you want to make the person you are interviewing feel relaxed – unless you’re doing a very aggressive kind of thing with them. You just want them to feel like you are very interested in them, that you are listening to what they are saying and that you are just having a conversation.

Often in conversation people open up and you can get into their thought process, so that you don’t ask a question that’s completely irrelevant to what they’ve been saying – your interview questions need to come out of what they’re saying.

So who was the most difficult person you ever had to interview?
Oh my goodness, I interview a lot of difficult people. Sometimes the scene is actually about how difficult the interview and conversation process was. I think the art in filmmaking is to use whatever is there, not want something that isn’t there and go in with a thesis. Sometimes I think that’s the hardest thing – learning to be flexible and receptive and genuinely interested, because your function as a storyteller is to follow the story and not to prove an idea.

So when you’re planning an interview how do you go about it?
Well it depends, I’ll always read as much as I can about that person – often not enough, but that’s cause I’m lazy. If they’ve done other interviews, then you should watch those as well and get clues as to what works with them. Sometimes people are triggered by a word – it’s very odd – you can notice a word in another interview that makes someone really react, so obviously you want to use those words too.

You have been described as fearless, but have any of your documentary subjects really intimidated you?
Well I think they are all intimidating – I made about 40 films and I don’t really think in terms of ones anymore. I think the whole process is intimidating and that’s a good thing because you’re always trying to think “How am I going to tell this story and how am I going to make other people interested in the story that I am interested in telling?”. I think it’s like sitting around the fire and telling a story to people – you don’t want everyone to go and take a toilet break in the middle of it, so how do you keep them there? That’s what storytelling is all about – how to keep the audience really fascinated.

What was the hardest/strangest documentary you’ve made?
Well they’re all so strange – they’re all just completely wacky. I don’t normally watch my films, but the last couple of months I’ve been redigitising all my films from negatives and you sit in front of these films that you haven’t seen for ages and think:“WOW these are so mad, these people are so crazy and the situations are so unique you could never write them – how on earth did I get through this?!”

They’re all an adventure into the absurd. I’m a big believer that the gods are either with you or against you, and sometimes they’re really against you and it doesn’t matter what youdo, you just don’t make such a good film and those are the hardest ones. I think all my films have been pretty extreme, but more than anything you just have to stay with an idea. They’re all really hard and you always think about giving up many times in the middle and the secret is to just stay with it.

What has been your favourite documentary that you haven’t been involved with?
There are a lot of films I like – some really early films like Run for the Hillsand Private Place and more recently a great film about the immigrants coming here from Syria called Into The Sea and also The White Helmets, which won the Oscar.

So do you have such a thing as a favourite film?
You see so much stuff and you like different things about different movies. They’re all stories and you’re moved by different aspects every time. I would rather say I like different filmmakers and I like their way of telling stories – I like early Alex Gibney or early Fred Wiseman. More recently I quite liked the Nina Simone film that Liz Garbus did and I also liked Amy and Senna.

What is your creative process?
I’m not one of these brainy filmmakers who has a list of films that they are going to do. I never really know what I’m going to do next after a particular film until I finish the last film and then you have to think ‘Oh what am I interested in now?’. Every time you make a film you learn something and you change.

I just finished this film about Whitney Houston and I’m thinking about what I want to do next – do I want to do another music film or would I rather do a drama. It’s a nice period where you read lots of newspapers and books, because often when you’re making films you get quite cut-off and get very focused on your film. In between films it’s a great opportunity to just look around you and go to exhibitions or go out to dinner (which I don’t do hardly at all when I’m making a film) and an idea comes along really quickly.

Have you watched or read something recently you’d recommend to our students?
I’m really interested in architecture and I also read a lot of funny things about architecture which aren’t really relevant, but made me think of making a series about buildings. I think when you have a big structure it often represents the politics of the area and I was thinking of doing a film around some colonial buildings around the world and telling the story behind the politics of the area and the period of time through the building.

That’s a fun non-commercial idea for BBC 4 (or 2 if you’re lucky) and probably an idea that’s hard to sell – probably not relevant for all countries – whereas with films like Whitney there’s a massive market.

Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
I don’t really know what I’m going to do next – currently I’m just getting the Whitney Houston film out. When you make bigger films and lots of people put a lot of money behind them it becomes much more bureaucratic – dealing with a lot of legal issues and very boring things that take your time up.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
I think the actual process of making a film is incredibly simple – and the simpler you make it, the better. If you need to, you can literally wear the same clothes everyday – buy 5 pairs of underpants and 5 t-shirts, so that all you need to do is focus on that film. Maybe work with one other person and keep a teeny tiny crew and just focus on the idea – become obsessed with it and don’t think about other things – this is if you want to make a good film. And just stay with it – there’s going to be lots of problems and the difference between a good filmmaker and someone who doesn’t get there is really just persistence.

Generally, ideas don’t go very well and there’s lots of problems and sometimes it’s a question of how you integrate the problems into the story – so you make it a part of the story. You have to be mastering the story, rather than the story mastering you. I always think the best thing to do is find your closest friend to work with and then the two of you go on an adventure.

The Broadway are holding a screening for Whitney: Can I Be Me? on Sunday 11 June which will also include a live Q&A with Nick Broomfield via sattelite. Tickets can be bought here.

Want to have the chance to meet industry guests and be a part of Industry Week? APPLY NOW to study on our FdSc TV Production Technology or FdSc Film Production Technology degrees or come along to one of our degree-level open days.

Want to help Deep Silver develop their games?

Local AAA games developers Deep Silver Dambuster have launched an exciting new games research lab in Nottingham and Confetti students have the opportuntiy to get involved!

The Deep Silver GamesLab will analyse player emotions and reactions and use the findings to shape the next generations of video games.

As a participant you’ll be called in for playtests and simply have to play through missions and levels. But it’s not just released titles that you’ll be testing. As part of GamesLab you’ll get the chance to test out future releases before they are even announced!

Oh, did we mention that you’ll also be paid for your time? Basically, you’ll earn some money for a couple of hours of gaming!

Sound exciting? You can sign up for the next playtest here: https://gameslab.dsdambuster.com/

Check the eligibility criteria below to see if you can be a part of GamesLab.

You are not eligible to sign up if:

  • You’re under 18 years old (sorry!)
  • You’re currently working or have previously worked in the gaming industry
  • You’re a games journalist/blogger

Want to get involved in games development? We offer courses at both college-level and degree-level in both Games Technology & Games Art.

Casting Call for Exciting Channel 4 Project in Nottingham

BTEC Broadcast Production – Level 3 at Confetti Nottingham

Great opportunity for Confetti students, as Nina Gold – the casting director behind Star Wars, Game of Thrones and The Martian – is coming to Nottingham in search of fresh talent.

The open casting call is aimed at Asian teen actors who would fit the following description:

JALAL (Male) Age 18-­‐24yrs.
British Indian Asian.
This is a major leading part in this drama. Looking for very sharp, charismatic, street-­‐smart British Asian young men for this challenging role.

USHNA (Female) Age 16 – 21yrs.
British Indian Asian.
Small but with an iron resolve and surprisingly steely determination. A terrific leading role in this major new series.

All those who fit the description and would like to have an informal chat about the role can go along on Wednesday 25 May between 4-7pm at The Nottingham Actors Studio (Number 1 Kayes Walk, The Lace Market, Nottingham, NG1 1PY).

If you would like some script to prepare in advance please email Kate at info@ninagold.co.uk with ‘CROSSING THE BORDER NOTTS’ in the title or you are welcome to just turn up!

Industry Week Highlight – Jon Harris

 

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Oscar-nominated film editor Jon Harris – who has edited 127 Hours, Kick Ass, and The Woman in Black, (to name but a few…) took to the Arts Theatre to share his knowledge, and give us a glimpse into the life of a successful editor.

Jon grew up making short films as a child, all of which he acted in, filmed, and edited himself. His passion grew from there, and he went on to complete a film course at Harrow in London.

He then spent a year assisting on films, where he met Guy Richie. Gaining editing work through him, he’s now lucky enough to earn a living doing what he enjoys.

Jon explained how he achieves his edits and how different cuts create different effects, to enhance the storyline of the film. “I’m always studying story-telling, as that’s what it’s all about.” He showed examples of scenes from his different films, and how each scene revealed part of the story. With each draft, the edit progressed to get to that ‘perfect’ final cut.

Jon expressed – “Editing is a broad canvas – it’s not all about matching shots together, but it’s about the over-all structure of the edit, and what you can bring out of it. Nothing ever works on screen as it does on the script – it’s one continuous, organic process. The final draft of the edit is the final draft of the script.”

He finished by explaining that editing is all about engaging the audience, as they have the ultimate say of the film – no matter what the director, editor, or otherwise think.

Ellie Kemp – Level 3 TV & Film Production

Industry Week Highlight – Barry Ryan

Barry-Ryan

As head of production at Warp Films – Barry Ryan shared his experiences of producing films & TV shows.

Warp Films first began as Warp Records in 1989, CEO Mark Herbert expressed his concern with trying to push visual artists. Following this they soon became Warp Films – Dead Man’s Shoes became the first feature – length film produced. The company also worked with director Shane Meadows to produce This Is England, and decided to continue the success with a TV series, as they wanted to re-visit the characters and explore their interests.

Barry got his foot in the door of the film industry through a film school in Sheffield. He set out to be a director, but self-admittedly ‘wasn’t good enough,’ so tried producing instead. He made useful contacts and when he left, he set up a small short-filmmaking company, and worked at Nickelodeon as a floor manager at the weekends. Eventually, he landed his first production job.

He revealed that, as a producer, you’re responsible for everything, and you’re more diplomatic. You need to understand scripts, script editing, financing, and be good at talking to people. He said – “Don’t worry about the size of the budget, worry about how you’re going to control it.”

Barry spoke out about what’s best in being a producer – “It’s nice to see the country houses and landscapes of the UK, and you get to work within lots of different environments. Sometimes I forget the importance of where we are.”

So, what advice can Barry give to aspiring filmmakers? “If you devote two years of your life to making a film, you have to be passionate about it – you have to make stuff to understand it, fail hard and then work on your mistakes.”

Ellie Kemp – Level 3 TV & Film Production

Integr8 Media Competition

Integrate Media Competition

Nottingham charity Harmless invite you to take part in their media competition.

Would you like to influence national thinking about mental health?

Could you use your skills and stories to reduce the stigma & bring concepts to life?

This exciting new competition is looking to generate interest from skilled and inspired individuals of all ages to bring the world of self harm to life in a healthy, helpful, creative and challenging way.

Whether you want to create a documentary piece to tell a particular story, or create a short animation or blog to illustrate an issue Harmless want to hear from you!

Winning pieces shall be up…

– To 3 minutes in length

– Follow national guidance*

– And be happy to be used in training and web materials

Further to this, the winners shall be awarded a recognition award and receive vouchers for their contributions.

Themes can include:

– Young people

– Black & Minority Ethnic Communities

– Social media

– Self harm

– Suicide

– Mental health

– Recovery

– Hope

*Samaritans Media Guidance

Deadline: 24th February

For more information: info@harmless.org.uk

Freelancing talk – Lyndsey Hardiman, Musicians Union

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Lyndsey Hardiman from the Musicians Union is coming to Confetti to discuss freelancing.

Where: A001, Nottingham Arts Theatre

When:  10th November, 11:00

Lyndsey is the Regional Officer covering the Midlands. She regularly helps union members with legal issues including fee recovery for unpaid or cancelled work, as well as organising promotional and continuing professional development events. Throughout her career, Lyndsey has done extensive work as a freelancer, enabling her to be aware of the practical challenges musicians face regardless of genre. Lyndsey’s talk will provide advice and guidance on doing freelance work and the challenges which surround it.

Interested? Sign up here http://bit.ly/1jQCLXT.

See you there!

Award recognition for Confetti students

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The Student Microfilm Awards took place on the 19th of October, as part of NIMFEST, and Confetti students were winners!

Awards were won in 3 of the 4 categories, for which a total of 7 Confetti students were nominated:

Extreme Short
The Fair With Goose, Jake Eden, Confetti

Animation
I Want You Girl, Maddy Pendergast, Confetti
The Urban Worm, Adam Nixon and Liam Bagshaw, Confetti

Drama
Fluffy, Damien Ebanks, Confetti
Partial Silence, Michael Jobling, Confetti
Your Secrets Are Sins, Richard Minkley, Confetti
Tuesday Afternoon, Ryan Harvey, Confetti

In addition to leading the Animation category, Maddy Pendergast has also been pronounced Overall Winner at the event.

 

And that’s not all…

Another 2 nominations were secured by Confetti students at the RTS Midlands Centre Student Awards – with winners due to be announced on the 12th of November.

Animation
I Want You Girl Animated Music Video
Confetti Institute Of Creative Technologies, Maddy Pendergast

Drama
Your Secrets Are Sins
Confetti Institute Of Creative Technologies, Richard Minkley

From everyone here at Confetti we’d like to congratulate all the nominees and winners for their hard work and enthusiasm. Here’s to many more awards to follow!

Confetti teams up with Splendour Festival 2015!

Splendour Festival Nottingham 2015

Confetti are proud to announce we will once again have a stage at this year’s Splendour Festival following the huge success of last summer’s celebration in Wollaton Park.

Confetti students and staff will be among thousands due to attend this year’s Splendour on Saturday 18th July. Our students are preparing to work around the clock to make sure the stages are set for some of the world’s biggest names in music including the likes of The Specials, Bananarama, Jess Glynne, Lawson and Roots Manuva.

Confetti’s technical events students will be setting up marquees and controlling the behind-the-scenes technology at the massive event, while our TV & Film students will also provide coverage of the entire festival. Splendour 2015 is set to be one of the biggest days out of the Nottingham summer calendar and Confetti are proud to be sponsoring the spectacle for a fifth consecutive year.

Splendour provides a fantastic example of the hands-on experience that Confetti students get while studying with us. Want to find out how to #DoWhatIDo and work at Splendour next year? Check out our College Courses and Foundation Degrees now.

Tickets for this summer’s Splendour Festival are available now. Get your tickets here.

Full line-up below

Splendour Festival 2015 line-up

Professor Green at #IW15 “All it takes is one song.”

Professor Green

Concluding an incredible Industry Week at Confetti, Professor Green took students through his music industry career, offering insights into his success and passing on the advice learned through his years as a musician.

Stephen Paul Manderson, better known by his stage name Professor Green, is an English rapper and singer-songwriter. He rose to success upon winning the inaugural JumpOff MySpace £50,000 battle rap tournament in July 2008. In the year that followed he worked with Lily Allen on her 2009 concert tour.

After touring with Lily Allen, Green was signed to Virgin Records and released I Need You Tonight featuring Ed Drewett. He also joined up with Allen on his second single Just Be Good to Green.

Professor Green’s debut album, Alive Till I’m Dead, which features guest vocals from Lily Allen, Emeli Sandé, Fink, Labrinth and Example, as well as The Streets, was released in July 2010. He followed this with the album At Your Inconvenience in October 2011.

Professor Green Industry Week Confetti

Pro Green started off by explaining how he got into music through rap battles, playing a clip of one of his early bouts. “It would have gone so much better if I didn’t fall off the stage,” he joked. “Although it was while taking part in battles and finding my own style in 2006 that I was signed to The Beats.”

Pro Green’s battle with depression is well documented and following his father’s suicide in 2008, he admits that he struggled. His account was refreshingly honest, explaining that ‘the music industry can have its ups and downs’ and that ‘sometimes it can just be about sitting down and unloading’. “I see a therapist and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about”, he says. “It’s good to talk and get things out.”

While discussing the various sponsorships he’s been involved with (such as energy drink – ‘Relentless’) Green explained that there’s not always a lot of money coming in through the record label and that, ‘you have to be creative’.

Professor Green

This theme of creativity continued as he spoke about the importance of social media. “YouTube is a great platform to launch your career and sometimes all it takes is a tweet.”

In fact, this is exactly how 2010 collaboration Just be good to Green with Lily Allen came about. “It was literally a twitter message”, he admits.

As the talk concluded, Green gave some good advice to the crowd’s aspiring musicians, explaining that it’s vital to ‘always keep contacts’ and also to ‘be ready for some rejection’.

The key to Professor Green’s success? “Work hard at something you love and to continue to enjoy the journey. All it ever takes is one song.”