Saturday, January 14

The Raindance Saturday Film School Click for more info

In my opinion Groupon is very much the online version of Next; you know with the whole "fake discount" thing. Take this course for instance - a full day of expert tuition usually worth 120 quid for the princely sum of £40 via the coupon site. How could anyone miss that bargain? Well the truth is that not many did - in fact I doubt any of the house capacity 300 who turned up today actually paid the full price for their place.

But clever marketing aside I do think that the day was worth what we paid for it. Elliot Grove, founder of Raindance, was the star of the show. Yes he was a little arrogant at first but eventually this turned out to to his credit rather than something that alienated. He led three of the four lectures, covering subjects like screenplay writing, movie making and how to break into the industry.

A lot of his advice was anecdotal in nature, something that was fun to listen to if only because Grove is such a good storyteller. I really liked the screenplay lecture myself though; he was extremely practical in the way he told us about the regular patterns found in modern movie making.

Like all great speakers though, most of his lessons were not really about the film industry but instead about life; he even went a little metaphysical toward the end. I thought it was great stuff myself, and even if I never make any movies with the stuff I took away from him, I do think that I learned something of value.

Simon Hunter, a director, took the third lecture about, well, directing. Perhaps it was because he had the dreaded post-lunch sleepy session, or maybe because his lecture was less structured than Groves's, but I found his stuff pretty difficult to follow. That said, Hunter has more of a practical approach, with him describing the tools and methods that directors use in their work. He also directly drew from his own experience, even going as far as showing us examples of the bad work he did.

And that's kinda why I enjoyed the film school really. Unlike other lectures which are either academic (where a lecturer separated themselves from the subject matter) or personal (where the speaker is the subject matter), all of the lectures today were both. We were being led by real people, those truly in the industry. I've never really experience this kind of "apprenticeship" tuition before, and I found it to be quite powerful. This, despite the fact that the school was clearly designed to be a platform to pitch to us the other Raindance offerings.

A final note on the venue: apparently The Old Cinema inside the Regent Street Westminster campus is the oldest in Europe. It was actually quite impressive too in a charming way. There are two more dates for the school in the next couple of months, but I think they are in different places.