The Vertical Lab is a mentoring programme that fosters excellent, innovative films by supporting underrepresented film artists working in development, production and distribution.
Representation in UK film is poor. This means that there is so much talent not being realised, and the potential for many excellent films is being lost. The Vertical Lab is about seeking out underrepresented talent in order to catch the gems that might otherwise slip through the net.
The Lab has been a success in London where we have been able to work with a wide range of filmmakers to help develop their films and their careers. Artists who have been mentored, later return to mentor others creating an independent network of professionals committed to overcoming a lack of representation and producing innovative cinema. We are raising money to take the Vertical Lab out of London to Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow and Newcastle where opportunities for filmmakers can be more limited.
We want to build our network of mentoring filmmakers, establish greater connections between independent producers and industry gatekeepers and create opportunities for those typically underrepresented due to gender, race, disability and low-income, to produce exceptional cinema that audiences everywhere can enjoy.
Cinema is one of the key places in which we tell stories as a nation and communicate who we are to the world. Yet, according to the BFI*, out of the UK directors listed in the Top 200 films at the worldwide box office, 2001-2016, only two were female and none were people of colour. With such a lack of representation in key production roles, there is a limit to which kinds of stories will be told, and whose life experience will be included in them.
*stats taken from BFI Research and Statistics: ‘UK Talent and Awards, 2016’.
This year, 15 artists from a range of disciplines including writing, producing, directing, cinematography, journalism, editing and film curation have been chosen to take part in the Vertical Lab. The chosen participants will attend the Raindance Film Festival where they receive daily mentoring to ensure they are attending the right events and meeting the right people. The Lab Sessions, is an event to showcase work produced by the Lab artists held at the Raindance Film Festival, including cutting-edge films, live script readings and discussions on innovative ways cinema is being exhibited to new audiences. The event concludes with a discussion on practical solutions for encouraging greater representation in UK cinema. After Raindance Film Festival, the Vertical Lab offers an additional six months of mentoring to support the Lab artists in developing their projects and careers.
Professional notebooks: to get your ideas for 'Better Cinema' down.
Tote bags: to show your support in style!
Tickets to Vertical Lab drop-in clinics and screening: Come and get mentoring, watch films made by Vertical Lab artists and discuss how diversity in film can be improved for the betterment of cinema.
Your own mentoring session! Choose from a 1-hour or 3-hour mentoring session to go through your projects and career development with professionals from the IFT and Raindance.
Charlotte Knowles is a factual film producer, Managing Director of the Independent Film Trust (IFT) and Creative Director of NewsPeeks. She has worked in film and television for over 15 years for a number of broadcasters including BBC, ITN, ITV and had her work shown at international festivals. Charlotte believes passionately in independent cinema as a vital component to our shared cultural identity and freedom of speech. She has been developing projects aimed at diversifying the film industry with the Independent Film Trust for over 3 years.
The Independent Film Trust (IFT) is a charity that works to advance the cause of independent filmmaking in the UK. The IFT board is made up of business and distribution experts with extensive links to the film industry both in the UK and around the world. The expertise within the IFT is invaluable to filmmakers wanting to get their films to audiences and make sustainable careers in cinema.
Independent Film Trust Board:
Lydia Agbobidi: Lydia is an entrepreneur, environmental advocate, founder and CEO of Shop 2 Save The Planet. Lydia is passionate about the environment, education and culture and has been a member of the IFT team for over 10 years.
Stephanie Charmail: Stephanie is currently Head of Production at ShortsTV and has been working on the Oscars for the past 4 years. She has over ten years of experience line producing for film and TV, working with companies such as Sky, Telefilm Canada, Warp X as well as with a wide range of independent filmmakers.
Thomas Barlow: Thomas is a media commentator and organiser. He co-founded Real Media and The Media Fund. He is on the national executive of the National Union of Journalists’ New Media Council, as well as being a founding member of the news technology initiative ByWire.
Raindance Film Festival is an independent film festival and film school that operates throughout major cities including: London, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Berlin and Brussels. The Raindance team has a wealth of experience in independent film production, finance and distribution. Raindance is also connected to the British Independent Film Awards and runs renowned filmmaking courses and workshops specifically aimed at directing people into the industry,
Risks and challenges
The main challenges associated with the Vertical Lab relate to accessibility: making the film world accessible to those who have been excluded from it is extremely challenging. This is made more challenging by the fact that many gatekeepers in the industry are unaware of the problems. We have been able to resolve this by working with a very wide range of partners, including charities that specialise in particular disabilities or neurodiversities, race, gender, income related issues. We also have a wide range of arts partners including Raindnace Film Festival with whom we run the London Vertical Lab.
Messaging is also another challenge: for many people film is simply a commercial business and 'box-ticking' is rejected. We have to be clear in how we communicate: whilst film is a business, it is also an important common good. It is a form of art and of creative, cultural expression and it needs to be shared. Explaining this in a finance-dominated industry is very challenging. However, through persistence and finding important allies in the industry who will attend events and engage in mentoring, we are able to slowly break down the barriers that often exist in people's minds.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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