Michael Henry, class of 2009

Michael Henry

Michael Henry

“I feel that I was a little too optimistic with the whole idea of film festivals.”

After handing in my final projects, I went straight into production of my micro-budget feature film debut ‘Ennui’.

I’d written the script in between doing uni work in my third year and had organized pre-production/rehearsals as I was finishing off my dissertation and handing it in. I directed, produced, edited, filmed and acted in it over eighteen stressful days, during the June heat wave (wasn’t much fun filming in a thick jacket).

I moved back in to my family home, on the outskirts of Lincoln, and spent the next five months editing the footage into the final 84minute final cut. During this time I was signing on, and the prospect of finding a media related job was slim-to-none. I would say 95% of media work available appears to be in London, and getting set up down there can be pretty costly. So, I decided that I would look for work in Lincoln in order to get an apartment, buy food to keep me alive, etc. But that turned out to be harder than expected as well. After applying for hundreds of jobs it seemed like being a graduate was a hindrance and I was either over-qualified or under-experienced (to work as a night porter at a hotel, for example).

After I had finished post-production on ‘Ennui’ I sent it off to a few festivals and had to play the waiting game between then and the ‘in competition’ results days. So after November, between looking for work, I began writing another feature script, learning from the various mistakes I had made the first time around. By January-end I had another script, which I intend to keep redrafting until summer time when I will be starting production.

At this time, I was approached by my former Lincoln School of Media tutor, Brian Hall, about creating viral ads for an expanding Lincolnshire business. I met with the managing director of Inspire Business, discussed what he wanted and what I could bring to the table. It was due to the comedy sketches, which we won our Royal Television Society Best Undergraduate Entertainment award for, that the managing director took notice of the kind of sketch/ad he would be getting for his money.

Two weeks later, I had produced three viral videos for him and was swiftly paid for the freelance work. You can see them on Youtube, and the kissinggates.com website.

During February I began writing a short film trilogy, which I intended to shoot one a month from March to May end, premiering them at the start of June. Each one centres on a contemporary issue that I feel strongly about. The first is about homelessness, the second about war, and the third nationalism.

This month I filmed the first, titled ‘Inaction’, and all went smoothly. Since finishing ‘Ennui’ the sales of the DVDs have steadily continued and from the profits, I not only made back the budget (a modest £200), but I made enough to buy myself a new HD camcorder, which the trilogy, and future projects will be shot on.


Ennui Poster

I recently discovered that ‘Ennui’, unfortunately, won’t be in competition at the festivals I applied for. Although I admit the film isn’t perfect, I feel that I was a little too optimistic with the whole idea of film festivals. From online discussion boards, and past film festival schedules, it is fairly apparent that the prospect of success of micro-budget films, and even low-budget films, is very, very slim.

Festivals such as Cannes and London Film Festival for example, allow the bigger films, such as Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’ this year opening Cannes, to overshadow the small productions which really need the help of sales agents and distribution companies to make a go of it. The only festival that I found to provide a platform for low/micro-budget films was a poorly organized event, which took place in a café in South Wales. So, with this in mind, I’ve decided the best thing to do is to continue to self-promote through my site, which has already garnered a lot of attention for the film (I’ve sold four times more DVD’s since using the site as a platform for my past, present, and future work).

A few days ago I was offered a Media and Communications Assistant Job in Lincoln, which entails expanding the community based project website, making videos for events, creatively advertising the company, and being the media liaison between the organization and Look North, Lincolnshire Echo, and Lincs Fm, etc. I’m looking forward to getting started, and continuing with personal projects in my spare time.

The ‘Modern Waste’ short film trilogy will be available to see from June, ‘Ennui’ DVDs are still on sale, and I’m going to keep on doing what I love most, making films, regardless of what obstacles stand in the way.

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