If you’re following my journey on YouTube you probably have seen me saying that I’m leaving the UK. I did mention that it’s really hard for an independent filmmaker to make a living here and have a comfortable life. One thing that I didn’t mention however is that there’s a problem in this country, in this industry. And many don’t see it, or maybe chose not to see it.
I came to the UK in 2011, since then I’ve been in and out between London and LA, and for the past almost four years I live full time in London. All this time I felt like an outsider. I look different, I sound different; people just see me as an alien. I made movies, I proved that I can make a feature film by myself, with literally zero budget, and make it look like it cost a lot of money. After all, production quality matters. I thought to myself if I can make a feature with as little as $1000 (I actually did films with less than that) and make it look like it cost $500,000 to make maybe they will appreciate it, I thought maybe it will help me advance my career. After all, making a film is really hard, leave alone making it only by yourself.
But the thing is no matter how much I did, how much I reached out, or how much I tried to work with UK film companies as a director, the reality was they wouldn’t even talk to me. So one day I decided okay let’s start from the bottom. Maybe I need more experience. Maybe I need connections. I met people, then those people got me into an internship at one of the biggest film companies in the UK who shall remain nameless. I was very excited. Finally I could learn from the biggest players here in the UK. I was given a chance to follow directors and producers around and see how they work, learn from them. And I didn’t care about the fact that I’m not being paid for being there every day from 7am to 8pm. In short, I couldn’t wait for the day when my internship would start. It was me and another British guy my age, let’s call him Michael. We both were filmmakers, we both wanted to become directors. The difference between us was that at that stage I had three feature films made, and Michael literally had nothing. We started together our internship, first few days we were asked to do basic stuff, sort out old hard drives, get to know people in the company. Few days into the internship Michael was involved in the production side of the company straight away, while me, well, I was asked to sweep the floor, literally. Producer came to me and asked to clean up after a party they had the other night. That’s all I did the whole day. The worst thing is? I did that for an entire week. I was sweeping the floor, washing dishes, making coffee, going shopping for groceries. I was hoping they will remember about me and ask me to join them like they asked Michael. I was wrong. I was looking through the glass door how they did a pitch for the next big commercial they had in development. And when they saw me looking, they would close the blinds.
Now I’m not going to tell you if what they did is right or wrong. It’s not my company. I can’t tell them who to work with. But I felt it was very unfair of them to promise me that I will do one thing, and then just literally ask me to clean up after then. How do I know they treated me differently? Because one of them asked me where I am from and when I’m going back home. When I told him that I live here in London for a long time now and this is home now, then he literally told me that it’s time to go. This was around Brexit time.
So I left, and oh dear I left in style. It was a tipping point for me. It was a real-life mid-point for my character. That day I realized that if I want to succeed as a filmmaker I can’t be someone’s b*tch. I have to stand up for myself and my values. I went all rogue and learned even more. I knew how to make a film on the cheap and make it look expensive, but I didn’t know yet how to get the film out there. I didn’t know how distribution works. That’s why I accepted that internship. I wanted to learn from people I looked up to. And I didn’t care that I’m working for free five days a week, that didn’t matter back then, I wanted to learn. And that meant even if I had to starve or live on the street.
This experience was an unbelievable motivation for me. Since then I decided I will motivate a new generation of filmmakers. I will show them how I get to my dream by myself. So I started a YouTube channel. And a few years forward guess what, I can make a film and get it out there, by myself. Look at my last two feature films I made just for fun on a GoPro and released them in forty five countries. I got the ropes, by myself. And this is just the beginning. Never let anyone kill an artist inside you.
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