Filmmaking duo ignite students’ passion for cinema

9th December 2019

Stratford-upon-Avon College’s budding cine-artistes were treated to a visit from a professional husband-and-wife feature filmmaking team who shared their industry expertise and a host of insider tips.

Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart, who established their own film production company Fizz and Ginger Films in 2009, joined Creative Media students at the College for a screening of their latest release – 2018’s fantasy-thriller ‘The Isle’ – followed by a Q&A in which they discussed their experiences in the film industry and provided the students with strategies and tips for producing their own professional projects.

Matthew and Tori take on a wide variety of production and front-of-camera roles on their film projects including directing, writing, producing and acting, and it was the importance of always bearing in mind these various aspects of filmmaking, and of the ability to take on different roles simultaneously, that they wanted to pass on to the students. Matthew explained: “While we’re writing, we also need to think about the film as a producer. That’s what we were trying to instil in them.” Tori agreed, pointing out the need to be aware of the budget, and added “And as a director you need to be thinking about how you’ll story board and plan everything.”

students pictured with Matthew and Tori
Filmmakers Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart with Stratford-upon-Avon College Creative Media students

They believe it is important to share their passion for the film industry – for Matthew “it’s storytelling. Watching a film allows you to live the lives of other people. It’s a magical experience” – and their professional expertise with the next generation of filmmakers. “It’s not as though there’s only room for so many of us,” Tori explained. “There are so many platforms for TV and films, and there’s an inexhaustible appetite for them. The scope is vast so it seems nuts to be selfish about it.”

In this spirit of sharing, they have even written a book providing invaluable filmmaking guidance and tips to industry newbies. Available in bookshops next year, ‘Full to the Brim with Fizz, Ginger and Fierce Determination: A Modern Guide to Independent Filmmaking’ will detail the complete filmmaking process from story conception right through to editing and film festival screenings, and will include interviews with many of the industry’s illustrious veterans such as Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry.

Creative Media lecturer James Rose was delighted at the success of the visit: “Having such experienced professional filmmakers as Matthew and Tori come into the College to share their knowledge of film production and to discuss the current state of the industry has been a highly valuable experience for our Creative Media students. They gained insights into their future job roles, the mechanics of film-making and invaluable advice on how to break into the industry. It was a fabulous afternoon of discussion and debate.”

And what did the duo hope the students would take away from the session? “I’d like them to think realistically in terms of what’s possible on a low budget,” Matthew commented. “Things are much more do-able than they might think. Getting access to equipment and to actors is quite easy if you know how to go about it.”

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