Originally published on The National Student on 17/01/17.
Two former students just got their final year short film project nominated for a real life BAFTA, so we chatted to them about how the hell they did it.
After meeting at Ravensbourne, one of London’s biggest specialist digital media and design institutions (we’re told it’s not technically a university but pretty much close enough), director Charlotte Regan and producer Jack Hannon worked on a number of music videos together before finally taking a shot at their graduate film, Standby.
Pretty much entirely self-funded by the team, and shot using a crew of course friends, this is a student success story if we ever did see one.
It’s a fairly straight forward set-up, entirely filmed within a police car, cleverly weaving together the evolving relationship of two police officers during their life on the beat, and one that earned the two newbies a world premiere at the super prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, alongside the likes of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire.
Despite the glitz and the glam of a huge festival premiere, Regan is the first to admit that the pair are still very new to the filmmaking biz: “We were pretty clueless when it came to festivals and we were so lucky getting TIFF as our world premiere, after that we just submitted to festivals we’d heard about or been recommended and kept on going from there. There were lots of festival rejections along the way too!” she says.
And as a bit of advice for future first time festival-ers, Hannon adds: “You really need to target your film (understanding that it isn’t going to be loved by everyone) to the festivals that are most likely to take it. Don’t be too precious about just wanting to get into Sundance or Cannes because there are so many other amazing places out there which are just as recognised in the industry!”
Unravelling the secrets to their filmmaking success with Standby further, both are also very keen to encourage current students to use all the resources they have: “Annoy the lecturers constantly for advice!” says Regan. “You don’t realise it when you’re there but having them constantly at the end of an email or available for a meeting is like having a group of incredible mentors always willing to help.”
And it’s a similar story for Hannon, although he hones in on the stress of the job: “I think the most important thing to remember when making a film (especially while at uni and you don’t have the restraints of appeasing funders etc.) is to remember that it is really just a film. Whenever me and Charlotte used to get horrifically stressed when we were doing music videos, and something was going wrong, one of us had to slap the other and just say “it really isn’t going to kill us.”
“When you’re at university and what you’re doing feels like its life or death it’s really easy to fall into that mindset of “if this doesn’t go right or do well it’s the end of the world.” Just have fun and try to ensure that everyone else is on the project, everyone just wants to have a nice time!”
Having now graduated and moved away from the student scene, the pair admit that they’re still “a long way off being full time filmmakers”, but are still hard at work on their future projects, recently wrapping production on their next short Fry-Up, which again used a crew of former students.
And whilst both admit that they would’ve loved to have made even more shorts while studying, the future seems bright, with Regan summarising: “We learnt so much on Standby, made so many mistakes but I hope we’ll learn from them on our future projects.”
Regan and Hannon are both nominated for the Best British Short Film award at this year’s BAFTAs with Standby, and of course we’ll be rooting for them come this year’s ceremony on 12th February.