BFI Film Academy: London to Glasgow trip review Part One

The sound of my alarm clock going off so early last Wednesday made me want to cry. Only the prospect of an action packed schedule, full of trips to top end film companies and exciting screenings, gave enough motivation to drag myself onto the train to London.

Day One: At midday we finally arrived at Kings Cross Station, tired and starving but raring to go. Stop number one was Universal Distributors, and unfortunately I would have to say that following a talk on the subject, distribution is not an area of the film industry that I would want to work in. Simply put, Mondays and the subsequent holdovers that need to be sorted sound stressful enough to leave me curled up in a corner rocking backwards and forwards, in need of a cuddle. Having said that though, the talk was very interesting and even in the small time we got to spend with Universal, it became very clear that the one thing everyone working there had in common was a huge love for all things cinema. To top it all off, a screening of the classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, rounded off a very enjoyable experience.

Next up was Picture House, another distribution company based in London which runs over 20 cinemas around the UK. Again this was very interesting and we really got a sense of how much research needs to be done about target audiences, just to keep a cinema successful.

So after a great start to the day, what could possibly be better for a group of young film enthusiasts than a screening at the ICA? Well in this case pretty much anything….. seriously, light torture would have been better than what we got. ‘Leviathan’ is a 2012 documentary arts film directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel. It is an experimental work about the North American fishing industry and relies on nothing but raw footage from various angles and perspectives, of workmen, on a small boat. With no narrative to speak of, this arts film was entertaining for a good 2 minutes. Sadly the rest of the 85 minutes were so dull, repetitive and boring that it sent most of the admittedly small audience into deep sleep. Those who managed to sit through the whole thing waited in vain, as it didn’t get any better as the seconds snailed by. I was even more surprised after ‘googling’ this title, to find a flood of high ratings and positive reviews. Different? Yes. Successfully makes the audience feel lonely and isolated? Yes. Fascinating piece of work? Perhaps, but for the majority of man kind I still feel interest would be lost within seconds, and though many critics seem to see fantastic art, expression and passion, I will always remember ‘Leviathan’ as an 87 minute snooze fest that fully justified our ironic celebrations at its finish. But never mind it was erm….. an experience, and by comparison, every film I see for the rest of my life will be compelling and interesting.

Overall, day one was a fantastic, and as I will illustrate in parts 2 and 3, the trip only improved over the next 2 days.

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