Applications open - hear from the 2020 mentees

We talk to Northern filmmakers about their experiences of BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew.

Applications for BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew are now open. Writers, directors and producers who are working towards their first feature or television commission have got until 9 October 2020 to apply for a spot on the year-round programme of masterclasses, networking events and mentoring opportunities.

To give filmmakers in the North a better idea of what to expect from the Crew programme, we’re revisiting our online short film night from back in May. There, we caught up with Jack Gill, Jen Corcoran and John Hickman - the 3 local filmmakers selected for expert mentoring throughout 2020. After a showcase of their work, Jack, Jen and John talked about Crew and how they've benefitted from the opportunity to work with leading industry figures through the programme.

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Jack Benjamin Gill (Writer-Director, Manchester)

I've been teamed with Michael Pearce and the mentorship couldn't have been more perfectly timed. I've essentially spent the year developing my feature slate, so to have Michael on hand to offer guidance is an amazing opportunity. Beast was one of the most assured British debuts I'd seen in years and Michael's advice has really inspired and surprised me.

He has a really unique grasp on what is possible with genre, and he's very open and honest. I’ve had two meetings with him: one to talk about the development of my feature, Lambing Season, and another to offer feedback on an early script. I'm knuckling down to write at the moment, and we're going to be catching up again towards the end of the year when he's wrapped on Invasion - which sounds mega.

Jen Corcoran (Producer, Stockton)

My mentor is Zorana Piggott. She’s produced interesting films like Couple in a Hole, and she’s also the executive producer on iFeatures. Up until now, I’ve mainly been making documentaries, but I’m also looking to develop new types of ideas for film and TV – so I’ve been speaking to Zorana about that.

However, as well as looking at specific projects, we’ve talked lots about the emotional side of filmmaking and the challenges of making a living as an independent filmmaker. It has been incredibly helpful to hear someone with Zorana’s experience talk about various approaches to development finance and sustaining your career, while our sessions together have also helped to build my confidence and bring greater focus to the development of my creative slate.

John Hickman (Writer, North Shields)

My mentor is Matt Wilkinson (Yesterday, Days of the Bagnold Summer). He’s a producer, which is useful for me. I know some of the other writers are being mentored by writers, but I felt that I would benefit from getting a better overview of the industry – so Matt is a really good match.

It’s been really practical so far - basically we’re developing a project. Matt is taking me through that; we’re looking at different concepts so that ideally something comes out of this process that is ready to go and has a place in the market. With Matt’s expertise in that area, it’s going really well. It’s still early stages, but we’re bouncing ideas around and making sure that the concept we’ll ultimately develop is really solid and has commercial appeal.