Michael Beddoes, from journalist to film maker

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“…get together with people of different skill sets and make something.”

Latest News: “…….our film The Third One This Week has been accepted into the Official Selection at South by South West Festival in Austin, Texas. Film London and British Council-Arts are supporting the project, which will allow us to strike a print of the film, and for me to go out to the festival and support it in competition.”

The Third One This Week Trailer from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

Michael’s story:

All the way back in 2003, I enrolled at the University of Lincoln to study journalism, with the aim of either becoming a motoring, music or film critic. Things didn’t quite go to plan…..

While studying within the Journalism department, I started to watch more and more films to review them (that’s the excuse I was giving myself anyway…)

After a while I started to be able to pick out what was right or wrong with each one, why critics had loved/ hated it and why it had been successful/ bombed at the box office. This lent itself to a rather unhealthy obsession with studying the data surrounding film such as who had produced it, starred in it, directed it, distributed it, marketed it and how these linked into its eventual performance. This then branched across into similar research on television shows.

Following on from the degree, I was elected into the Students’ Union as their Education and Welfare Officer, which involved organising campaigns and events to a budget and handling the logistics. This was followed by a year as Acting President at the S.U. in which business responsibilities, management and pitching came into the job role. It was mentioned to me during this year that my passion for film could be mixed with the eye for a story honed on journalism and the business skills garnered at the union to make up the elements a producer needs in the visual industries.

For a year I took a job to save money to move to London and try to advance my knowledge of producing as a profession, took unpaid work as a runner and production assistant on shorts, read numerous books and websites on producing and attended every film networking event I could. The money saved over the year was used to fund a Masters studying under former Producer and Head of BBC Drama Professor Jonathan Powell and feature film Producer Chris Auty (Crash, My Summer of Love).

During a year of study in Producing for Film and Television, I formed a company with a partner, called Organised Chaos TV and Film. Last May we shot a short drama called The Third One This Week as an exercise to see whether we could create a narrative piece with a beginning, middle and end in under five minutes with a limited budget (the finished film came in at four minutes and under its £950 budget). 

On 8th January this year we shot a short comedy called Meeting Daddy, which again was a challenge as we took it from script to shoot in three weeks. This short will not only be distributed to festivals but will also form the ‘sizzle’ reel in our pitch to have a sitcom based on it commissioned.

The next few months will be particularly exciting for us as we lock our logo designs and website, produce a short comedy with fantasy elements (in the mould of a British Amelie’) called Winding Up, shoot a short comedy film about warning former pupils who have gone on to be teachers called Womble (another concept to be developed into a sitcom), head to France to shoot a short French language film called Lolotte and put in the ground work on a feature film based on a French Canadian play.

Time at university is a great opportunity for making films, as you usually have amazing access to expertise, equipment and time, that afterwards would not be available so freely. Out of all of the projects we have done or are doing, the first was the easiest as the equipment was provided by the university, along with help securing the location and insurance. I would implore anyone wishing to work as a director, producer, writer or in technical areas of film and TV to get together with people of different skill sets and make something. Unfortunately, there are far too many people waiting for an opportunity to be presented to them, where as the truth is that for very little other than time, creativity and enthusiasm, really remarkable things can be achieved. Tailoring the script to make use of what you already have can save money and add to the drama (The Third One This Week takes place entirely in the toilets of a hospital).

I was fortunate enough to have a chance meeting with an American producer called Cyrus Yavneh (24, Supernatural). This has meant that I can go to him for advice or send him any work I do for comments. He has always passed on really great tips and the two that have stuck with me that I would pass on are that when first going onto a professional set, watch everything and have “big eyes, big ears and a small mouth”. The second tip was “make sure you can pay your bills”, as producing is an unstable job with an unreliable income, especially in the early days, so it can help to have a part time job or financial back up (for example, I continue to work at the London Film Museum in Waterloo to keep the rent paid).

A further piece of advice would be to go to everything, meet everyone you can and try to leave a good lasting impression. The writer/ director of Meeting Daddy is Rebecca Rycroft, the Script Supervisor from Four Lions, The Mighty Boosh, Peep Show and when we first met two years ago, I was a runner on a short we both worked on. It really is a case of never knowing who you will want to work with in the future and who you will end up making friends with on a project.

Good luck to you all on your journeys from where you are now into the professions you want to pursue. I wish you the best of luck.
Michael Beddoes

Producer (The Third One This Week, Meeting Daddy and Lolotte)