You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BAFTA Awards: How Award-Winning Films Get the Support They Need

A lot is said about nurturing up-and-coming talent, but what that means in practice varies a great deal, as can be seen by looking at the backstories of the BAFTA winners of the award for a debut by a British writer, director or producer.

Film4, the feature film arm of U.K. TV network Channel 4, has backed all the victors in this category from the past three years — Chris Morris’ “Four Lions,” Paddy Considine’s “Tyrannosaur” and Bart Layton’s “The Imposter” — as well as some of the other notable nominees, such as Richard Ayoade’s “Submarine.” Katherine Butler, deputy head of film at Film4, says the experience with each was different.

“Every filmmaker, no matter what their background, brings a different set of strengths and challenges to work with,” she says. “The challenge for us is to be as responsive to the needs of each individual as we can be, and to try and understand how we can build structures that get the most out of them.”

This could be a longer editing process or bringing on extra experience in one of the departments. Layton, for example, asked for a director of photography who had “a real sense of cinema,” so Film4 signed up Erik Wilson, who had worked on “Tyrannosaur” and “Submarine.”

“Their collaboration was a wonderful thing that Bart got so much from,” Butler says.

It is important to help the directors build a team around them, not just for the first film, but for the movies that will follow. This process can start with the making of a short, and Butler encourages filmmakers to shoot a short for Film4 before they move onto their first feature.

“It has been a really great way to get to know particular filmmakers and how they work, where their strengths are, and how you can help them in the areas where they have less experience,” she says.

Warp Films CEO Mark Herbert, who has produced many films by first-timers (including “Four Lions,” “Tyrannosaur” and “Submarine”) says as a producer, it is important to vet candidates carefully. “A lot of the debut directors have shown incredible skill in something else before,” he says. “We have never plucked anyone from obscurity.”

Both Ayoade and Considine, for example, had proved themselves as actors, and Ayoade had written and directed TV shows and shorts, while Considine had co-written Shane Meadows’ feature “Dead Man’s Shoes” and had written and directed the short “Dog Altogether,” which won a BAFTA, before he developed it into his feature debut, “Tyrannosaur.”

Herbert says debut helmers also have to demonstrate they are willing to let go of those things that are not crucial, while holding on to the essence of the film.

“Every first-time filmmaker is going to have to make a series of compromises, because there is never enough money or time to do what everyone wants to do, and so what we try and do is identify what is important for that project,” he says. “We do that early on, so all the time you can go back to that and protect the director’s initial vision.”

That could mean prioritizing money for the art department, special effects or music, securing particular actors or nabbing extra shooting days, he says.

For a producer, handling a rookie filmmaker is likely to be far more time-consuming than dealing with more experienced helmers. “We don’t just give them the money and leave them to it,” Herbert says. “We are really hands on.”

However some debut filmmakers can be surprisingly proficient, as was the case with Considine.

“Paddy came with an absolute clarity about what he was doing, so he really didn’t shoot much more than ended up in the film,” Butler says. He had “one of the most disciplined processes of any filmmaker I’ve worked with.”

And when tyro filmmakers win an award like the BAFTA, they will have a whole new set of challenges to confront.

“The international film industry is so hungry for talent all the time, that the challenge for filmmakers, once they’ve made their first film, is working their way through the process of when the industry takes notice and starts barraging them with material, and to make the right decision as to what the second film should be,” Butler says.

“It can be a time of real reflection on and understanding of who the filmmaker is that you want to be as you move forward. And I am always really supportive of those filmmakers who want to start building a slate early on, because I feel that somehow you can take the curse of that second film if you have got something that you are already passionate about in development or you are ruminating about already. … And the longer the gap you leave between first and second film, the more pressure there is to see what you are going to do next.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Benedict Andrews (L) and US actress

    Kristen Stewart on the 'Insane Gall' of Directors as 'Seberg' Arrives in San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN – On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, [...]

  • Les Miserables

    Ladj Ly's Cannes Prize-Winner 'Les Miserables' Is France's Oscar Submission

    Ladj Ly’s politically charged drama “Les Miserables,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, has been chosen by France’s Oscar committee to enter the international feature film race. In one of the most competitive years for French movies, “Les Miserables” beat out Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the 18th-century-set romance which won [...]

  • David Kehrl neuer Head of Acquisitions

    'Resident Evil's' Constantin Names Acquisitions, International Co-Production Chief

    David Kehrl is to join Constantin Film, Germany’s leading independent movie producer and distributor, as the head of acquisitions and international co-production. He will report to Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the executive board at Constantin Film, which produces the “Resident Evil” movies. Starting in February, Kehrl will be responsible for the acquisition of international theatrical [...]

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

  • KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has a Name: Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film finally has a name: Leonine. The company revealed its moniker Friday, saying that “Leonine” met its criteria of being associated with its home region of Bavaria and Munich, in southern Germany, and of [...]

  • Scattered Night

    San Sebastian New Directors Jihyoung Lee and Kim Sol Talk ‘Scattered Night’

    After taking the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the best acting award (Moon Seung-a) at the Jeonju Intl. Film Festival, “Scattered Night” now heads to San Sebastian’s New Directors selection. An intimate portrayal of a family whose members are deeply isolated from one another, the film follows two parents overwhelmed by their responsibilities, their own [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content