Last meeting, David Wright led a fervent discussion where we all considered the directions of movie making in the world today. Many concepts and trends were discussed. Ultimately, we are heading towards using this information to guide us in visioning a future for our club.
Before the meeting, we received an email from our highly regarded member, Richard Boniface. Richard is currently active in producing Netflix material, but still took the time to offer his thoughts to our club. Thanks Richard, we appreciate your kind thoughts and considerable effort. Here is what he had to say:
I think BMM’s growth struggles because it services a declining demographic & I’m not talking about age demographic.
The problem is most filmmakers these days don’t want to stay amateur.
Just look at the numerous Facebook groups filled with people dreaming of going pro. Some are film school graduates & others not.
My suggestions here may be painful for the existing membership to accept. Apologies to our lovely members & friends.
My perspective so you know where I’m coming from is:
All that gear I brought to the club & short film never sees the light of day now,
I work for professional Gaffers, usually as a Best Boy using their gear, &
My CV on my website richardboniface.com shows I’ve done 35 TV commercials, a few feature films, short films & music videos.
It’s a fact that film schools produce large numbers of graduates every year and graduates face the following issues:
Most have no real industry contacts,
Many have nowhere post-graduation where they can practice their craft to maintain & develop skills & reels,
Many don’t have networks that might get them onto paid or even unpaid jobs,
They don’t have access to real gear,
They frustratingly discover people who didn’t even attend film school somehow bypassing them for the paid jobs,
Many of them crave working with other skilled people (though most graduates are surprisingly unskilled), &
Numerous graduates have told me they have learned more in a couple of days on set with professionals than they did in years of film school.
Sadly, most graduates eventually give up on the career for these reasons.
Graduates have invested heavily in their careers and are really motivated to produce material. Without a doubt, this makes them the most receptive & motivated demographic for potential BMM growth & subsequent club dynamism.
Now let’s consider working industry professionals.
Hopefully this doesn’t cause offence, but these people find it difficult to associate with a club defined as “amateur” fearing how their peers will see them. An acceptable involvement might be as a “professional” giving back to the filmmaking community.
This is the branding issue for BMM wherein anyone who was a club member and becomes a working industry professional can’t really be associated with the “amateur” brand.
I suspect professionals would be significantly more comfortable associating with a club known as a hotbed of filmmakers (graduates & non-graduates) who are a resource of paid/unpaid labour to make low/no budget projects.
A club will always find it difficult to recruit working professionals who are also active members because length of day on a film set is in my experience between 11-15 hours plus travel to location.
They are either working or tired so may never realistically be part of the active membership.
I think BMM would have a stronger future if it is the following:
The place smart film school graduates go after graduating,
A place of networking that accepts both graduates & non-graduates equally,
A place that facilitates gear for member productions,
A place that encourages projects & exhibits member films,
A place of skill training, &
A resource for crew for professional low/no budget productions.
If you look at the club’s major advertising platform (website) from this perspective, you need to ask yourself honestly whether graduates & non-graduates who want to become working professionals are attracted or deterred by the current content.
I guess this is a hard decision point where the club decides to go after aspiring professionals (graduates & non-graduates) or stick to amateur filmmakers.
I unfortunately have no bright ideas to offer to grow into the amateur demographic.
Take care & good luck at the meeting.
Personally, I feel that Richard offers some excellent points. Ultimately however, we want the club to move in the direction that the majority of members want.
Vice President BMM