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Q + A : Ken Loach on Funding and Micro Budget Filmmaking

We had a small chat with one of our favourite filmmakers, Ken Loach about his thoughts on new talent, funding and the storytelling options of micro-budget filmmaking.

Year Zero Filmmaking: Current funding options for new talent seem heavily focussed on an old ideology of 'good enough to be funded' or 'not good enough to be funded', which seems very negative towards encouraging and motivating anyone. Can you see or suggest a more positive system where new filmmakers – or funders don't fall into potentially loosing important voices who may just need more encouragement?

Ken Loach: Television and broadcasting should be restructured and be more open to diverse talents and ideas. At the moment it is too controlling and corporate. Broadcasting give you an audience, much wider than festivals and one-off screenings.

YZ: What do you see as the biggest positivity for the future of film-making through new technology?

Ken Loach: Adaptability and speed of movement.

Dangers are bigger than advantages, as necessary crafts are less valued and employers use new technology to cut costs and increase profits. First thing to do is join the union, BECTU. You’re not a film professional if you’re not in the union.​

YZ: How important is the building a team and running a production to your films? And do you think part of that process comes across on screen?

Ken Loach: I agree, organisation is an undervalued skill. Anticipate everything and only work with nice people who are efficient and take responsibility. No room for stars, control freaks or egomaniacs!

YZ: For a new filmmaker embarking on making their first feature – and most likely working with a very small budget and limited access to cast, what would your top 3 words of wisdom for them be?

Ken Loach: i) Don’t start until the script is as good as you can get it. You are almost certainly not a writer.

ii) Meet and listen to writers, see who really captures dialogue and character, work with them. It is the scripts that let almost all films down, particularly ones by people starting.

iii)Also, you are not a cameraman or a sound recordist. Recognise good craftsmen, look at light, framing, editing and imagine how people in the film arrive at their performance.

YZ: How important is it to be allowed to make mistakes?

Ken Loach: You will make mistakes, every time!

YZ: With the advent of cheaper technology allowing high quality filmmaking access to emerging-talent, why do you think we are not seeing more socially conscious micro-budget feature films at festivals and on online streaming services?

KL: Sorry, I just don’t know about this side of film making at all. However, short films – people telling their stories, a sharp account of the issues behind a current dispute, the truth behind the false headlines in the press or TV – all this would be invaluable and important politically. Tell our stories and our history!

YZ: Without a budget or theatre access what advice could you give to getting a film screened to an audience?

KL: Sorry, the biggest obstacle is making a good film. If it’s good, a festival somewhere will pick it up. Really look at what you’re doing and be your biggest critic.

Thank you Ken Loach and Sixteen Films

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