“For us it was a no brainer,” says Young People’s Programmer Noel Goodwin when asked why the British Film Institute decided to partner with IdeasTap back in 2011. Compared to the BFI website, which is “a bit of a whopper”, says Noel, IdeasTap felt easy to navigate and youth-oriented. “This seemed like a great opportunity to connect with exactly the kind of people we were after: young creatives.”
In the years since IdeasTap and BFI worked together on many different briefs, large and small. The biggest has been the Future Film Festival, the BFI’s annual showcase for filmmakers aged 16-25 at BFI Southbank. Each year, between 2013 and 2015, IdeasTap members had their animation, fiction, documentary short films and music videos shown at the festival. The two organisations also hosted a whole range of masterclasses and panel discussions about breaking into the industry, as well as practical aspects of filmmaking such as script development. There were other creative opportunities, too: the chance to create idents for the festival in 2012, to host a series of talks in 2014 and to attend a film journalism workshop in 2015 – all of which included mentoring from experts.
But that’s just the beginning. Throughout the rest of the year, the BFI and IdeasTap ran opportunities – often bringing other organisations on board. Director Dexter Fletcher held a masterclass on working with actors, sharing his advice for those unable to attend in an interview with IdeasMag. Cascade Media Development and Met Film School did a session about the craft of pitching feature films, with the best pitchers winning a place on a two-day development course at the Met Film School. With Penguin Books, they gave one IdeasTap member a £250 budget and professional support to make a trailer for Charlie Higson’s book, The Fallen. IdeasTap members on the Youth Jury at the 2012-14 London Film Festivals helped judge the award for Most Original and Innovative First Feature.
For Noel, the briefs with IdeasTap as part of the BFI’s Teenage Kicks season in 2014 were particularly memorable. “We built a teenage bedroom film set in the building and we invited IdeasTap members to submit two-page short scripts to be filmed in the set,” he remembers. The winning writers were invited in to make their films, with BFI support and equipment. “We also auditioned the actors through IdeasTap at a live casting event. We screened the films alongside 60-second short teen films, which also went out on IdeasTap as a separate challenge.” In addition, IdeasTap members attended zine making and film blogging workshops. It was, Noel adds, “a really cool, multi-faceted project.”
“I’m devastated that IdeasTap is closing, as I know lots of the young people that we work with are,” says Noel. “You need people from all kinds of creative disciplines to work together to make a film – designers, writers, musicians, actors. There are websites out there that support those different areas but there isn’t anything quite like IdeasTap with that ability to bring all these creative opportunities together.”
That said, the legacy of what IdeasTap and the BFI achieved will, Noel believes, be felt in the years to come. “You get waves of filmmakers and they tend to come from some sort of collective or collaborative experience. I think you might well find people in the future who go, 'IdeasTap was the thing that connected us up'. If IdeasTap had been able to keep going for longer, you’d see that effect even more profoundly.”