Based at the prestigious Pinewood Studios in the UK, the Lift-Off Season Awards is a night comprising of an awards ceremony, product demonstrations, drinking, and dancing.
Each year Lift-Off HQ at Pinewood Studios welcomes hundreds of filmmakers from all over the world attending the event to network and celebrate their peers.
The ceremony recognises the best projects and talent that the Lift-Off Season had to offer.
The following is my opening speech to the attending filmmakers, audience and industry.
Once upon a time…
Everything begins with that, doesn’t it?
Once upon a time, a team of filmmakers came together to create something. There was a writer, and there was a director. They had a vision, a story that they wanted to tell. They had a belief that what they had to say was important. Or it was funny, but they had a feeling that their story added something of value to the world.
They hoped that their vision opened up new realms of possibilities in a world gone a bit mad. Or they wanted to tell a story of forgotten times. Or shine a light on the underrepresented peoples of the world.
So this group set about to craft their film. And as the team grew, their momentum grew.
The actors found truth in their character’s worlds. And through their characters’ actions, they told a story.
The cinematographer captured the pictures. And painted the story on the screen with the help of the rest of the team.
And then the editor crafted the pictures into the final vision.
Finally, they finished, and the story was born.
The process was terrific, or it was terrible. But somehow, despite the obstacles, they crossed the finish line.
Then the journey was only beginning. Now it was time to display the story on a screen and offer it up to the world. Hoping to find an audience.
And that is where the final miracle happened. The story took a new shape in the audiences’ imagination.
And if all the pieces of the filmmaker’s journey aligned, the story managed to touch a human heart. And the story went on to start new conversations, to delight, frighten and entertain.
And this is the meeting point of the audience and the story. When the filmmaker’s vision finds resonance in our hearts, we get to explore what it means to be a human being. We get to journey in these incredible landscapes. To learn from the Hero’s journey, and be entertained from the comfort of our cinema seats.
But it could’ve all been so different. What if the writer knew that the road ahead was a lonely one, so she decided not to start?
What if the directors realised that what they were going to make was going to be bloody hard work? So they didn’t bother to start.
What if the producers realised that their audiences would demand their work for free? And it would be a long, long time before they were able to recoup their investor’s money?
This is the birth of a career. The beginning of a story of once upon a time, and it needs your help.
Filmmaker’s make work and sacrifice parts of themselves for us. To entertain us. To delight us. To scare us. So how can we support them? What can you do to support independent filmmaking?
Well, being here today is a good start.
The Lift-Off Network exists to connect filmmakers with audiences and the wider industry. It is our immense privilege and honour to be able to work with some of the best up and coming talent on the planet today. And it’s our mission to find these voices and support them in their creative endeavours. We do this with festival screenings around the world. And through our workshops with industry here at Pinewood Studios. And finally, with our global members’ platform. Where filmmakers can collaborate, grow and connect with the broader industry.
You can find all the information in your programmes and on our website.
But enough about us, tonight is a celebration of emerging talents.
And tonight, if you see something that resonates with you, please seek out the work. We’ll only be watching short clips of the nominations today. But if something resonates with you can find it online.
Some of the films that you are about to see are available to this audience as a VOD collection. There is more information about where you can find the films, and how to watch them in the programme.
Lastly, I encourage you to support the grassroots of indie filmmaking beyond tonight. Lend your attention to the filmmakers’ creativity. If you are here today, there’s a high chance that you are working in the industry or you are friends with someone who is. You will already know the indie film world stretches far beyond multimillion-pound budgets. And even further beyond the blockbuster tent pole movies screened in the cinemas.
So if I can take you back to my original question, what can you do to support independent filmmaking? Seek out grassroots work. Attend film festivals. If I can ask you to do one thing? Whenever you come across independent work that touched you, please share it. Tell your friends that are outside of the industry. If you are in the industry, support your peers.
And if something resonates, write to the filmmakers. Send them a quick email telling them how much you loved their work. It’s an incredible job to sacrifice part of yourself on the screen. Often the artists go through it with little thanks, no money and no help. A note from a stranger might show them that their vision is finding an audience. And what they are trying to do is worthwhile, after all.
Ladies and gents, thank you very much. And welcome to the Lift-Off Network Season Awards, 2019.
I’ll now pass you over to you hosts for this evening.
Please welcome to the stage James Bradley and Natalie Daniels.
Consultancy helping independent film content to reach new audiences. Ben Pohlman works with filmmakers, sales agents and distributors to craft Distribution-Marketing Campaigns to increase both impact, audience reach and revenue potential.