The 2017 British Independent Film Awards New Talents Longlist

On 24 October 2017, the BIFA announced the longlists for four new talent categories: Debut Director, Best Debut Screenwriter, Breakthrough Producer, and Most Promising Newcomer. The longlisted films are competing for nomination slots, which will be officially announced by Maisie Williams and Hayley Squires on 1 November. The winners of the 20th anniversary of the awards will be announced on 10 December at Old Billingsgate.

Of the 31 total longlisted films, five are in the writing, directing, and producing categories; these films include Bad Day for the Cut, God’s Own Country, I Am Not a Witch, Lady Macbeth, and Pin Cushion.

Lady Macbeth is the only film boasting two performers longlisted in the Most Promising Newcomer category – Cosmo Jarvis and Naomi Ackie. In the period drama set in rural nineteenth-century England, Jarvis, a mixed-race American-born English-raised actor, plays an estate worker; Ackie, a black English actor, plays an observant maid named Anna. Lady Macbeth premiered at TIFF in September 2016 and subsequently screened at BFI and Sundance.

Chris Baugh’s debut feature, Bad Day for the Cut, is a witty and violent Belfast-set revenge thriller which premiered at Sundance in January. Nigel O’Neill is up for the Most Promising Newcomer Award for his portrayal of Donal, a middle-aged Irish farmer who seeks revenge on her mother’s murderer.

Francis Lee’s directorial debut, God’s Own Country, portrays a young Yorkshire sheep farmer’s romance with a Romanian migrant worker. This is one of the more decorated films of the longlist – at Sundance, Lee won the World Cinematic Dramatic Directing Award and the drama won Best Film at both Berlin and Edinburgh.

Welsh-Zambian director Rugano Nyoni premiered her debut feature I Am Not a Witch at Cannes in May. Nyoni interweaves feminism with satire while channelling experiences from her upbringing into the telling of a young Zambian girl’s accusation of witchcraft and resultant removal from her village.

Writer-director Deborah Haywood’s first feature, Pin Cushion, opened Venice’s Critic’s Week in late August. The coming-of-age film revolves around the fragile and unsettling relationship between a single mother, Lyn, and her teenage daughter, Iona. Iona is played by Lily Newmark, a British-American actor longlisted for Most Promising Newcomer.

You can view BIFA’s press release which details the complete list of longlisted films here.

Fancy attending the British Independent Film Awards on 10 December 2017? Become a Raindance Benefactor to get a seat at this invite-only event.

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Joe Cole in Intense Trailer for Muay Thai Film ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’

A Prayer Before Dawn Trailer

“I’ve got not family, no money, just give me this one chance.” A24 has debuted an intense, badass official trailer for a film titled A Prayer Before Dawn, shot by a French filmmaker in a real Thai prison starring real inmates. This film is about a young English boxer who is thrown into prisons in Thailand, where he fights back and trains to be a competitor in a vicious Muay Thai boxing tournament. Joe Cole stars as Billy Moore, the one white man in this Thai world, apparently based on a true story. The cast includes Vithaya Pansringarm, Panya Yimmumphai, Nicolas Shake, Pornchanok Mabklang, plus the real Billy Moore in a cameo role. This looks frickin’ awesome! I can’t believe I have missed this film until now. And A24’s trailer is exciting, building up the intensity right until the last second. I actually can’t wait to see this. ›››

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AFF Review: Kooky Sci-Fi Indie Film ‘Everything Beautiful is Far Away’

Everything Beautiful is Far Away

I love stumbling upon quirky indie gems that haven’t been fully discovered yet, but are totally original and skillfully crafted. Everything Beautiful is Far Away is one of these films, which I decided to see on a whim at the American Film Festival, and I’m very glad I took a chance on it. This homemade indie film was filmed entirely at the Algodones Dunes in California, and stars actors Joseph Cross and Julia Garner. While it is technically sci-fi, set in the near future when cities have continued to expand and massive deserts are all that surrounds them, the film’s story is actually more of a metaphor for relationships. It’s very similar thematically to Swiss Army Man, addressing the difficulties of loneliness and of love in our modern world. ›››

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13 Steps To Making A Horror Film

Hallowe’en always brings the horror genre into focus. Horror films always have a certain audience, as we are captivated by misfortune that happens to our fellows.

Horror films are a great place to launch a career because they can be made without the huge financial resources other genres can demand.

With us battening down the hatches against trick or treaters, and with hurricanes and tropical storms battering different parts of the world, we thought we’d put together a how-to list about horror filmmaking:

1. Pick a main character – hero

Your hero should be an average person but part of a typical social group. The typical hero is a college student (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream). They usually work on their own, like a babysitter (Hallowe’en).

2. Pick a sidekick and make them bicker and compete

A good story has a hero (the main character) and a sidekick. The sidekick starts the story as the heroes best friend, but part way through the story they betray their best friend and oppose the hero and what they want. Horror films also have creepy children (Children of the corn), or children who are corrupted by creepy characters (Mama).

3. Pick a universal moment

A universal moment is an event that many of us will have experienced and when in a story becomes something your audience can relate to. For example, being alone in a house (Paranormal Activity, Night of the Living Dead)

4. Pick a location

Cheap movies are shot in one location. Pick a big house, ore factory, or any building you can get hold of cheap. Black out all the windows so it’s dark and evil looking. For added effect water down the floorboards so they glisten in the candlelight. Another advantage of the single location is you can block the exits so the hero can’t escape.

5. Pick an inciting incident

An inciting incident is an event near the beginning of the story that creates the drama and kicks off the story. Inciting incidents can be macro (like an epidemic in Shaun of the Dead) or micro, like the death of a daughter (Don’t Look Now).

6. Pick a ghost

Good stories need to have a ghost. Ghost is an event in the past that the hero still fears or is ashamed of.

Each genre treats ghost differently. In crime stories, ghost is referred to as ‘personal crime’ – something the main character did that was wrong, and which still causes them embarrassment and pain. In horror stories the ghost takes on a physical shape and must be overcome by the hero.

Make sure the ghost is painful to the main character and not easily overcome.

7. Pick a nightmare

Nightmare is that thing in the future that the hero is afraid of, and it is so powerful that it prevents them from getting what they really want.

8. Pick a trap

Many horror films are filled with traps. Saw, Buried, Phone Booth, and the first Evil Dead are all stories with traps where the unwary perish.

9. Pick the moment the sidekick dies

In horror movies, the hero confronts the physical ghost and in the confrontation there is a struggle which causes the death of the sidekick. Pick this moment for maximum dramatic effect, and the moment that cause the most guilt and remorse in the main character.

10. Pick the confrontation

The confrontation that causes the death of the sidekick is the climax of the movie. it is a do-or-die confrontation, in which the hero must overcome the ghost or else suffer the direct consequences. There are three different types of consequences: Physical (the hero could lose their life); social (they could lose their place in society; or psychological (they have their core beliefs challenged to the point where they can no longer function as normal and healthy human beings).

11. Pick the right fake blood formula

A horror movie needs lots and lots of fake blood, right? Make sure you pick the right fake blood recipe. You  can learn to make your own fake blood at a special evening class in London, or follow one of these fake blood recipes.

12. Pick the right music

Horror film scores seems to feature low stings, children singing or amplified heart beats as in The Blair Witch Project.

13. Pick the film festival that debuts horror

Film festivals provide the ideal route to start publicising your film, whatever the genre. festivals tend to specialise in different sorts of genres. London has the world-famous Frightfest. Here’s a list of the top horror and fantasy genre film festivals in the world.

Fade Out

Armed with this simple list go make a movie.

Yours in filmmaking,

Elliot Grove

Find Out How You Can Enter Our Halloween Horror Competition Here:

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4 Key Film Jobs No One Can Fill

I didn’t go to film school (or university for that matter) and I am completely self-taught. Then I decided to look for film jobs. There are hundreds of times I wished I had learned some basic tricks of the film trade, and knuckled down and had some basic qualification. It would have been even easier for me had a programme like the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree existed back then.

It would have saved me a lot of really dull and boring jobs including a six-week stint in 1991 when for six soul-destroying weeks I worked as a debt collector repossessing overpriced televisions from old age pensioners who had been hoaxed by over the top ‘hire-purchase agreements.

I’m lucky now. Raindance is finally flourishing and I don’t need to do the dumb-ass jobs I used to do in order to keeps the wolves from the door.

If I was starting out again, there are three film jobs that would pretty much guarantee you steady paid work in the film industry. Had I learned any one of them I wouldn’t have had to knock on OAP’s doors!

Let me explain who, what and why:

Job #1: Sound recordist

A sound recordist is responsible for capturing and storing all the sounds on the set. It’s a much less glamorous job than that of cinematographer (responsible for recording all the pictures on the set.

Good location sound recording on a set is one of the basics of filmmaking. Sadly too, it is one that most filmmakers neglect and do so at their own peril.

Basic skillset requirements?
This is a basic geek job. You need to be patient and tolerant. You need to understand the basics of sound recording and be able to focus on detail. You also need to have good organisational skills and present to the producer a set of sound recordings with sound report cue sheets at the end of the shoot.

We shot the feature film, Love.Honour.Obey in May 2013 and the most difficult person to find was a sound recordist with their own equipment.

Job prospects?
This is probably the most difficult crew member to find for a shoot. We did luck out and managed to get one of the country’s top sound recordist Nigel Albermaniche who was intrigued enough by our project and was available since most of the other productions were paused during the Cannes Film Festival (when we were shooting).

If you want paid work on a film set, learn about sound recording and get practical experience assisting someone like Nigel. Get your own equipment and advertise your wares. You will never be short of work.

Job #2 1st Assistant Director

The 1st AD is the Directors right-hand person and is also the link between the producer and the director. The great thing about this job is that there are no formal qualifications to be a 1st AD. You either are a good one, or you aren’t. And if you aren’t any good you won’t get work. and that’s what makes this such a special and hard-to-find crew member.

Basic skillset requirements?
A good first AD has to be a good communicator and a strong motivational personality. They also have to be exceptionally well organised and have excellent time management skills. Envision someone like Atilla The Hun with a cell phone and a pleasant smile. This is probably a good picture of the 1st AD that everyone wants to hire.

Job prospects?
Good 1st AD’s are as rare as hen’s teeth. The combination of skills needed is so rare, that should you possess these skills you will rarely want for work. After sound recordist, this is the most difficult person to crew.

Job #3 PMD: Producer of Media and Distribution

Filmmaker, author and entrepreneur Jon Reiss coined the phrase “PMD” just as his authoritative book on alternative distribution, Think Outside The Box Office was going to print late 2009. The phrase is starting to stick and refers to the person on the producing team responsible for audience building, plus the normal unit publicity work and the potential alternative/self-distribution role after the film is completed. A PMD will also be an expert in crowdfunding, should the production decide to go down that route.

Basic skillset requirements?

A good PMD is a marketing genius who combines these sought-after skills with good organisation. Increasingly, a PMD is responsible for live events as well – when the film plays in open air cinemas, rooftops, film festivals and other venues the producers might decide upon.

Job prospects?
PMDs are really marketing all-rounders. A good PMD with the right combination of communication skills and social media know-how mixed with strong entrepreneurial savvy should never need to look for work!

Raindance is doing something about this PMD job training. We have a special one day class on Social Media For Filmmakers on Saturday, September 7th. We offer some good training in our Producers’ Foundation Certificate, and I’m in Toronto in November 2017 trialling a new class: Creating A Festival Strategy. Check out the course details here.

Job #4 Script supervisor

Certainly one of the most taxing and demanding job on a film crew. Starting a few weeks before the shoot, this is the person who breaks down the script and prepares it for the schedule. A script supervisor also notes own all the director’s thoughts about how each scene is going to be shot. on the actual set, the script supervisor makes sure that everything the director wants has been shot.

Basic skillset requirements?

A great script supervisor combines excellent organisational skills with communication skills to match. Good concentration a definite must.

Job prospects?
A well-trained script supervisor is highly sought-after. If you like working consecutive 14 hour days this could be the job for you!

Raindance is doing something about this. Check out our Script Supervision and Continuity Workshop here

Fade Out

The Quickest Route To Get Paid Work In The Film Industry?

Get a commercial driving license so you can drive a hired van! Or get a van that you are allowed to drive. You will become instantly popular and make lots of great new friends.

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5 Reasons Not To Study Documentary-Making at Film School or University

I’ve taught at most of the major film schools in London. I also run my own documentary consultancy business ( and teach short courses at the NFTS and Raindance. Increasingly I’m beginning to realise what exceptional value a great short course and/or a good documentary consultant can be – and how going to a film school may not always be the best route if you want to make documentaries that get seen. See if the following convinces you (though please note that I do not include the exemplary National Film & Television School in the film schools that I’m talking about here):

1 A Recent Graduate Of A Top London Film School Told Me: “I Learned Nothing About Documentary Making On My M.A.”
I recently led a one day documentary making seminar at a top London film school on my rules & principles of documentary-making. A recent graduate was there and I asked him what he’d learned about documentary-making on his M.A. His response shocked me: “Nothing”. He then went on to tell me about his graduation film; something didn’t seem to chime with me. I asked him a few questions about it and then suggested a fix. Immediately he got excited and agreed that for the first time his film could work. I find it shocking that so many film schools fail to teach an effective, structured approach to documentary filmmaking, and also fail to help students understand how to make documentaries that an audience might want to watch (and a broadcaster might want to show).

2 Documentary Tutors Can Give Simply Terrible Advice
A student who recently attended my Raindance Documentary Foundation Certificate told me that after struggling to find a focus and a story in her film school graduation documentary the advice that her tutor had given her was to “just keep filming and you’ll find your film.” Two years later – surprise surprise – she still hadn’t found it. In my opinion that isn’t great teaching. In fact I’d argue that it’s a terrible waste of the student’s money to be given such ill-informed advice. If medicine was taught like this then there’d be hundreds of criminal cases against medical schools. In my opinion documentary structure and its concomitant principles or rules need to be taught – and taught properly.

And need I add that it’s always better to learn from someone who has excelled in their field than someone who hasn’t.

3 Many Documentary-Making Courses Are Just Glorified Film Studies Courses

Many students of mine tell me that they learned more over two or three sessions with me as a documentary consultant or teacher than they had over their entire MA or BA. Considering you’re paying in the region of £23,000 for a degree or Masters, that’s in my opinion very poor value.

Many film schools purport to teach documentary-making but in reality teach a glorified documentary studies programme. A friend of mine teaches on a filmmaking degree at a London university and recently mentioned to another tutor how he spends three days preparing his weekly lecture. The other tutor told him that they personally never bothered preparing their lectures as all they did was show a film to the students and then got them to talk about it as: “everyone’s seen so many films in their lives that they have an innate knowledge of it.” I totally disagree with this approach to teaching – by the same logic you could argue that everyone has heard so much music in their lives that all they need to do is pick up a violin and start playing. There’s a huge amount of knowledge to learn before you can go off and make an engaging documentary and much of this is counter-intuitive and so has to be taught clearly and effectively.

4 I Learned Nothing About Documentary Making Over 3 Years At My Film School

At my film school I learned a lot about feminism, cod-psychoanalysis and post-structuralism. I could even drop the words “Jacques Derrida” into an essay, however when I left film school I went straight to unemployment. It was only as I started develping my own documentary ideas that I had to go out and discover how to make documentaries that the BBC might commission. All my teachings as a documentary consultant or film tutor come out of my hard-earned, tried and tested rules that I developed through research and practical experience working as a researcher and later as a producer/director at the BBC.

5 It Might Be Better To Spend Your £23,000 Film School Fee In A Different Way

What if you do as Paul Thomas Anderson did and eschew the film school route? What if instead of studying documentary making at university you instead spent, say, £750 on a short, truly inspiring course and several great documentary consultancy sessions? This can be a far more cost-effective way to learn what you really need to know to make documentaries that audiences want to watch.

As Werner Herzog says: “All you need is $ 10,000 (and guts) to make a feature film.” So with the £22,000 you had left you could go out and make two short and two feature length documentaries.

To see how Col Spector could help you with your film and to read some testimonials from filmmakers who have used his service go to

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Official Trailer for Mickey Keating’s Horror Thriller Film ‘Psychopaths’

Psychopaths Trailer

“You look like a friendly crowd!” Samuel Goldywn Films recently debuted this official trailer for the new horror thriller titled Psychopaths, which first played at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. This is also the latest film from Mickey Keating, director of the films Ritual, Pod, Darling, and Carnage Park, which was also released this year. Psychopaths is about seven different serial killers whose paths cross over one single, blood soaked night. This looks flashy and stylish, though it’s hard to tell what exactly is going on in this trailer. The ensemble cast includes Ashley Bell, Angela Trimbur, James Landry Hebert, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Jeremy Gardner, Ivana Shein, and Larry Fessenden. If you’re into indie horror, and masks, and serial killer films, then this is for you. But if you’re not into that, well, maybe not. Have fun. ›››

Continue reading Official Trailer for Mickey Keating’s Horror Thriller Film ‘Psychopaths’

Keith Stanfield & Gregory Kasyan in First Trailer for ‘Quest’ Graffiti Film

Quest Trailer

“So what’s it about?” “Leaving a mark, getting respect.” A trailer has debuted for a new indie drama titled Quest, a story about a young kid who loves tagging and graffiti, and meets a friend who might help guide him in life. Young actor Gregory Kasyan stars as Mills, a 12 year old graffiti addict who is losing faith in integrity. His home life is mess with an abusive dad and a mom who doesn’t believe him. His school life isn’t much better. A sympathetic teacher and champion of at risk kids enters his life. Co-starring Dash Mihok, Keith Stanfield, Lou Diamond Phillips, Betsy Brandt, Sepideh Moafi, Marlyne Barrett, Allen Maldonado, and Karen Kahn. This is premiering at a few film festivals this fall, but otherwise hasn’t made much of an impact yet. Looks like it could be a cool low-key indie about the art of graffiti. Check it out. ›››

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LFF Review: Brazilian Film ‘Good Manners’ is a Clever Horror Creation

Good Manners

This Brazilian horror drama film falls under the category of WTF?!, but it’s so so so good. Good Manners, or As Boas Maneiras in Portuguese, is a film from Brazil set in São Paulo that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If I am to sum it up in one sentence it would be: a Brazilian, lesbian, musical, werewolf drama. It’s kind of a horror film, but not really, much more of a drama with some horrific elements. Good Manners is the most clever, refreshing reinvention of the werewolf film in years. It will make you freak out and laugh and cover your eyes and throw your hands up aghast in bewilderment. The less you know about it going in, the more enjoyable the experience will be when you finally watch it unfold. So be careful with what you read. ›››

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Official UK Trailer for Cult Sci-Fi Film ‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’

How to Talk to Girls at Parties Trailer

“Welcome to the revolution!” Studiocanal has debuted the official UK trailer for John Cameron Mitchell’s cinematic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, following up the Japanese trailer a few months ago. This trailer does a better job at capturing the weird, but heartfelt vibe of this film. HtTtGaP is totally wacky cult sci-fi film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this summer to mixed reviews (I wasn’t a big fan of it). The film stars Tony-winner Alex Sharp as Enn, a boy from the dreary London suburb of Croydon. Set in the late 70s, it’s a punk rock-infused, horny-adventure about a group of punk kids who discover a secret convent of aliens visiting planet Earth. The cast includes Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas, and Tom Brooke. Have a look, this just might be your jam. ›››

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