After seeing a lot of incredible films at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival, I’ve become inspired to write and make more films myself.
There are always so many different films and strands on at the EIFF that it’s hard to know what to see. This year, in addition to watching dozens of short films (more about them on my short film blog), I decided that when I was in doubt about what to watch, I’d watch something made in the UK.
On a mercenary level, this helps me see who is making what and where the money for UK film is going, but it’s also more likely that I’ll meet a UK filmmaker, and it’s always nice to be able to talk about someone’s work with them.
UK films watched – in no particular order – included:
- The Violators
- The Pyramid Texts
- The Messenger
- Scottish Mussel
- Blood Cells
- The Legend of Barney Thomson
A real mix of genre, style and cinematic experience.
I tried to approach the films this year with a positive but analytical hat on. I watched each film as a whole and entertaining item (not always an easy thing for a screenwriter to do), then afterwards focused on the things I’d particularly liked about it – acting, soundtrack, visuals, edit, pace, dialogue. It meant that even in the films I didn’t enjoy as a whole, I found something to appreciate.
Every year I have a habit of going to the EIFF, diving in to the cinema and watching four films a day, talking about films with other filmmakers for two weeks, and then retreating from the film world until the following June.
I’ve made a pact with myself that I will not retreat this year. To that end, I’ve been to see at least a film a week since the festival, including new releases Love and Mercy and the terrific Eden, and a personal favourite never seen on the big screen before, Orlando. I’ve bookmarked upcoming film events in the city, and intend to go along to them and chat to filmmakers (or at least lurk behind a pillar).
Watching so many films and concentrating on the positives has also helped me to clarify my own cinematic language. I’ve thought about what actually speaks to me in a film, and what makes me feel an emotional or intellectual connection to a piece. I’ve filed this information in the same part of my mind that notes the themes I like, the genres I enjoy playing with, the structures and conventions I like to use or break – and in some ways this has strengthened these elements too.
Thinking like this, and seeing so many films, has inspired me to write more screenplays.
In July, I’ve written three short films. One for fun, one to act in, one to direct. Different genres and lengths, but with some new components that might not have made it in before June. I’ve also written a new feature film treatment that I hope to flesh out in the next few weeks. These scripts might never see the light of day, but then again, they might. If not, though, it feels like I’m building a new foundation to work from, and that’s good enough for me.