Attitude and Ideas: Year Zero Tartan Features 2017 Review
“Great art always comes from attitude and ideas” so said the Gang of Four. This is also true of film but with the important addition of tenacity.
The Cambridge dictionary defines tenacity as ”the determination to continue what you are doing”
Ideas alone are just not enough when making, promoting and distributing independent films on your own – something we learned when we started in 2013. Attitude is great if you have the ideas but without the resolve to carry them through nothing changes.
This hard fact can be summed up in a single eloquent passage from THE MANUAL – How To Have a Number One Single the Easy Way:
“It is a little known fact but when it comes to creative ideas the majority of people are creative geniuses. Your mate is bound to be one of them. It's just that all these folks never dare to translate their creative brilliance into reality. We guess a couple of libraries could be filled with the reasons why they never attempt it.“.
This is something we thought a great deal about in 2017.
The end of a year is always a good time to reflect, and reflecting we are. What stares back at us is the realisation that it takes an enormous effort to make even small changes and dents in an industry which does not appear to want to change much.
While 2017 has been a struggle we believe we've achieved results to where we've been aiming over the last 4 years. This has given us the resolve to push for even more in 2018.
Slowly things are changing. Similar ventures have come and gone, others have started or are continuing with positive results. While our aim will never be seen as mainstream there are however enough people adapting those kernals which we believe will be. Language and ideals are being adopted for other pursuits and this can only benefit everyone. Having attitude is definitely what we are about.
If things get tough or you feel nobody gets what you are trying to achieve don't give up. While we may have been quiet on social media we have been busy. Not everything has been easy (far from it) or even a success. Enough small glimpses of change have shone through this year however to show us that moving out of your comfort zone and making crazy nano-budget feature films is a positive step forward. Do your own thing and be part of the change.
You have to keep on pushing forward with your ideas, attitude and not give up. It's hard, but if it was easy then everyone would do it. If you want to be in a successful industry then you have to take the responsibility of contributing to it yourself, not relying on others.
Now that our annual Christmas motivational speech is over here's our review of the year:
Late December into January saw our 'Year Zero Distribution' operation enter phase one with 'Tartan3 – Wigilia' being released on Amazon.
Tartan8 – Night Kaleidoscope was given a BBFC rating and released on Amazon, DVD and VHS. While not to everyone's taste it did gain 10 festival award wins and 11 nominations. One person did say it was the worst film they'd seen. Definitely the right wrong thing to say!
Year Zero Distribution Phase 2 is in final stages and will hopefully revolutionise Micro-Budget Independent Film Distribution by creating a network across the globe. A lofty aim!
February was to be our Whaam! Shorts month. We'd hoped to produce a few of our own but they have sadly had to be put on the back-burner due to a very large backlog of work....definitely something for 2018!
March was spent filming our new feature, Tartan14 and some very exhaustive post-production work on our other films. Big Gold Dream came out on DVD – again self distributed – and appeared in real shops of all places. And sold out in 2 days.
April surprised a few folk in the film industry with Big Gold Dream's shock screening on BBC2 and iPLayer – its success notable in equal measure by those publicly praising it and the deafening silence of some notables ignoring it. Ha! We managed to get one of our films on proper TV - with the help of many talented industry friends of course – WG, AS and MT and EA among them. Definitely one of our proof-of-concept highlights of the year.
June/July saw Teenage Superstars premiering at EIFF2017 and being nominated for Best Documentary and the Audience Award. It won neither but would also screen at Raindance and Cork.
June/July also saw Far From the Apple Tree, Tartan14 appear at the EIFF Works-in-Progress industry strand.
August – Nobody knows what happened to August.
September saw Tartan Features alumni R Paul Wilson (Tartan9, Con Men) screen his latest feature Isolani at Raindance 2017 where it was nominated for Best UK Feature.
September/October saw Another Tartan Features alumni, John McPhail (Tartan5, Where Do We Go From Here?) have his latest feature, Anna and the Apocalypse screen at two of the worlds biggest genre film festivals 'Fantastic Fest' and 'Sitges Film Festival'. For anyone doubting whether they should take the plunge and make a micro-budget feature this film proves beyond a doubt that this concept works. Because he'd done such a good job with WDWGFH somebody came and offered a very large bag of gold to make something far bigger. Ideas and attitude. Well done.
November – Another mystery blur. Owl abduction possibly.
December saw Wigilia finally being released on DVD with a super limited 7” soundtrack performed by BMX Bandits Duglas T Stewart and Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake. Yes, we released a record too!
Graham Drysdale's Wigilia also screened at the GRAMNET Film Series at GLA 'As part of Scotland’s celebration of the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology....and... to explore Scotland’s story via the eyes of our diverse ethnic and cultural minority communities alongside civic representatives, artists and historians'. Which was all a lovely way to share this Christmas film.
photo L Malone Massina
It's been a tough year but we think we've done enough groundwork over 2017 to make 2018 a big success – and we hope the same for you too.
Our 2013 beginnings and ambition for Vertical Integration is paying off slowly. Our disdain for safeness in the industry also pushes us on – the bland, conservative festivals and film schemes should take cover in 2018.
Our films – while not breaking box office records at the Odeon – ARE getting getting recognition and seen by a growing audience. And more importantly the crew, writers, actors and filmmakers who made them are being recognised by the bigger industry. Our idealogical overreaching goal is not to have a box office smash but to build our own film industry. If nobody is going to do it for you, do it yourself. There are no gatekeepers, it's only you stopping yourself. Give it a go in 2018.