Sam Myers, head of film, comments on the shortage of skilled film workers
Cannes Lions celebrated some amazing film craft this week. But despite this welcome jolt, the film industry is suffering from a lack of skilled workers, from camera operators and electricians to make-up artists and costume designers. That’s according to new research launched at the Lions’ more glamorous equivalent: the Cannes Film Festival.
The notoriously nepotistic film industry clearly needs to attract a much wider pool of suitably trained talent. The sheer number of different skill sets required on a film set also shows how firmly rooted in craft film is. Without craft, you don’t have screen-worthy film, you just have executed video.
The craft of film is perceived as something that ‘old people’ talk about or that people did in the past. Nowadays everyone with a phone is a camera operator and you can download editing software for free. Why should you craft a film when you can use your phone to bash out a video? Quality is not important because there’s so much moving image out there, not many people will see it.
People are bombarded with video day-in day-out, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped watching. They still want clear, engaging content – or what ‘old people’ might call ‘crafted film’. But while the volume of film content is increasing exponentially, the quality is decreasing. The result is that what has become acceptable now in terms of quality would have been considered a career-ending embarrassment ten years ago.
The problem is convincing clients of this. They need to understand the difference between crafted film and executed video. Film is what people watch and remember. They use it as starting point to further their knowledge and then they share and spread that knowledge. Video is what people have of their weddings. They were there so they don’t need to watch it, they just have it done because that’s what’s expected.
There are no tricks or secrets to craft, you just need to get the basics right. Here’s how to make sure craft runs through every aspect of production:
Hone your script
Don’t accept the first draft of your script. Take the time to really evolve and develop the story into something that your audience can identify and respond to.
Don’t cut corners
Once you’ve developed the script then it’s on to execution. Great execution is just as important as a great idea. You want this content to be something you can be proud of because going to be around long after the delight at having saved a few quid or a few hours wears off.
Fight for what you need
If you need that actor or that particular piece of music, then make sure you do everything in your power to get them. It could be the difference between a good film and an amazing one.
The world can’t afford to lose the discipline of craft. Without it, everything we produce becomes wallpaper. Budgets and timings will continue be to challenging but clients will always want their content to be engaging. If we end up living in a world of beige because craft ceases to exist, then the long hours, high pressure and teamwork that production demands simply won’t be worth it.
First published on Little Black Book.
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