Mandy.com partnered with the brilliant folks at Raindance for the Raindance Independent Filmmaker's Ball which saw the red carpet rolled out for a whole host of renowned performers including The Xtra Factor's Sinitta, Poldark actor Christian Brassington, actress and presenter Jess Impiazzi, In the Long Run star and Tri-Force Creative Network co-founder Jimmy Akingbola, Wallander actress Jeany Spark, sports presenter Kiri Bloore and more. Here Andy Wooding of Mandy News asks them what actors and filmmakers can do to succeed and about the importance of community within the entertainment industry.
Watch the short interview videos below for full acting and filmmaking career tips or, if you'd like a short summary, read the abridged answers beneath them!
Sinitta, tell us a little bit about how important these events are for the creative industry and creative communities?
These events are crucial and vital as there are so many unsupported filmmakers that need the recognition, funding and the awareness. There are a lot of blockbuster films out there where the director/filmmakers have one indie film that was critically-acclaimed and then have gone on to produce these huge films. The talent is real, they just need the opportunities.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone in the creative industry who really want to succeed, what would it be?
You’ve got to believe in yourself. If it’s your passion and you really believe in it then go for it. You will get there. It might be hard but don’t give up and just keep believing. Try to find one person who believes in you and is prepared to put their money where their mouth is and do what they say!
Jess, tell us the importance of community within the creative industries?
I’m quite new coming into this, so it’s really important for me. I’m trying to make a mark, meet as many people as I can and try to learn from them. So events like these are essential for me and so many others.
What’s the key to succeeding and what has taken you to where you’ve gotten so far?
I’ve put in a lot of hard work despite what lot of people on social media might think. I still go to school as I feel you can never stop learning in any industry. If you have that attitude then I think you will go far - and I will too!
You’ve had a wonderful career working with such legends as Kenneth Branagh in Wallander, what can an actor do to succeed like you have done?
Keep at it and always stay positive. Every job is an opportunity and everyone you meet is a potential friend that you haven’t met and made yet. Just keep that love of telling stories alive and safeguard it. That’s the best thing you can do.
Tell us a little bit about the importance of events like this and community within the entertainment industry?
I think it’s a very communal industry. You get to meet a lot of people and you work with them. When you’re writing, you think about those people and who you would like in your work and vice versa for actors. Although it’s a very public industry, it’s also quite a communal thing behind the scenes too. It’s really important to meet people, get to know them and keep up with what people are doing.
You’ve had an amazing career so far. What, in your opinion, is the key to getting regular work as an actor and getting your name out there?
It’s a mixture of tenacity – you have have to stick with it as there will be ups and downs – and when you get the opportunities making sure you do a good job and be a professional. It’s not rocket science but it helps if you can act too.
What’s been the key to your success so far?
For me, work ethic is very important. Nothing is handed to you on a plate. You have to do the work and the 10,000 hours. As an actor, prepare, study the methods, learn the lines quickly and how to break down scenes. I remember when I was trying to get into Guildhall Drama School but I hadn’t done the prep work, they didn’t take me in. So I learnt the hard way that you have to do the work. I might have a tiny bit of talent but it’s the hard work that makes the talent. You won’t last without working hard in this business.
What’s the importance of these events, the Tri-Force Creative Network and community in general within the creative industries?
This event is very important. As a working-class boy from Newham, I was given the opportunity to go to drama school through a grant. There are no grants any more due to government cuts. As a consequence, there seems to be a divide nowadays. If you are working-class then the opportunities or scholarships go to certain drama or film schools and are decreasing all the time.
There is so much talent out there but if you don’t create a bridge for them then it’s incredibly hard. That being said, it’s not entirely impossible either. We’re in a stage in the world where you can create your own and it might be seen but it shouldn’t always be that hard. I’m always telling everyone to work hard to create your own content but I believe the industry could do more to tap up that talent, not only in London but rural areas across the UK too by setting up funds to nurture that talent. We run a short film festival at BAFTA and we make sure that the prices to submit films are as low as possible at £15 or 20 or even free. It’s hard for us to sustain but we believe in that.
We want to increase the opportunity for filmmakers to have their films on at film festivals and at somewhere like BAFTA. You can’t get into BAFTA unless you’ve got four or five professional credits. We thought about the filmmakers that have those credits but who have not been acknowledged as professional and how we get that talent in the building, so we set up a film festival.
So the government needs to bring back those grants!
Definitely and I think the government should engage with companies like Tri-Force Creative Network too, who are doing such great work and aren’t core funded by the government. With that help, we can do more. We can go to those other areas and create more opportunities for talent.
Karen, how important are events like The Raindance Independent Filmmaker's Ball for the creative community?
Amazing! Elliot’s efforts over the last 26-27 years has been incredible and I’ve been a fan of Raindance for many, many years. The guys who won here last year wouldn’t have had a chance in heaven of getting funding for their film if it wasn’t for Raindance. It’s an issue for a lot of filmmakers but the bursary really does help the under-represented people in the film world to have a voice and get the required funding to make their films.
Creativity shouldn’t be for just one echelon of society or people within huge cities who can wrangle the money. It should be for everyone. If you have the creativity, sometimes it’s just cash. Having said that, Raindance is always encouraging filmmakers to just do it no matter how small the film – even do it on a phone. That’s what I love about the message of Raindance and what Elliot stands for.
Kiri, could you tell all the aspiring presenters out here how you got into presenting motorsport?
Motor racing is my family business through my parents so that’s the logical link. I also studied journalism so that’s always a good place to start. It all started from there.
What are your thoughts on community-led events such as these? How important are they for performers, actors, presenters and the like?
Raindance is so important for British film. They give money to people who potentially might not get noticed and it opens doors for new, aspiring British filmmakers.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring presenter?
Just stick with it as it takes a long time. Never give up!
What is the importance of an event like The Raindance Independent Filmmaker's Ball for filmmakers or actors in the sense of community?
It’s massive. As a young actress, to help fundraise for short films and working class actors, it’s such an important thing. Sadly, there are so many brilliant films that don’t get to be made so these events are so important.
What advice would you give to actors to follow in your footsteps and get the success you’ve had so far?
I just got very lucky with my first job. Going to drama school is definitely the best way to figure things out. Be nice and have lots of friends who aren’t actors to detract yourself. It’s a really, really hard industry but if you work hard then it’ll work itself out.
Tell us the importance of an event like this for the independent film community?
Events like these are so important. I’ve just been through it myself in terms of getting my own work made. The independent film business is massive so events like these are essential.
You’ve done a lot of independent works such as short films in your career, what’s the importance as an actor to do those kind of projects as well as bigger ones?
It’s where I started. You start off doing your own kind of thing and then you meet people and that’s how you get ahead. I love the thought of not missing a step in terms of where you want to be. I’ve just been in an independent feature and it was one of the best projects I’ve ever been in. It was such a good crew and everyone is so hard working.
For all the aspiring filmmakers and actors out there, what advice would you give to them to get further down the line than they are now?
It’s really tough but don’t give up. These events are the exactly the kind of thing you need to be doing. You want to strive for the bigger projects but these are the stepping stones to getting there. Make contacts and just keep going.
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