Greengrass and Briffa united in mentoring scheme

A SCOTLAND-based film director has just celebrated a year of having the chance to use one of the UK’s top movie directors to ‘bounce ideas off’.

Earlier this week, 25 young filmmakers – among them a Scot and another based in Scotland – toasted the completion of a 12 months-long mentoring project called Guiding Lights, which has brought new and established film people together, to share ideas and advice.

“The idea behind Guiding Lights is a very simple one: create the opportunity for industry heavyweights to share their invaluable experience with a future generation,” says Janine Marmot, director of film at Skillset, the sector skills development organisation that launched and developed the scheme.

Also included in the scheme are new writers and producers. Among the experienced directors on hand were Stephen Frears (The Queen) and Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy).

Scottish participants were producer, Lachlan MacKinnon, whose mentor was Norma Heyman
(Mrs Henderson Presents).

Meanwhile, director, Joseph Briffa, matched up with Greengrass.

Said Briffa, who came to Scotland from Newcastle 13 years ago to study fine arts at Glasgow School of Art: “I applied for the scheme because I thought it sounded like a really good idea, and the list of mentors was amazing. Most people in the film industry learn their job while working on a set, but learning to work as a director is a lot harder. The programme fills a gap.

“It was really interesting to work with Paul Greengrass. The experience will have an impact on my career in a number of different ways. There is Paul’s helping advice and the people he knows – it opens doors. Also, getting access to him and his thoughts, his years of experience can help me to do positive changes to my scripts.”

The importance of mentoring in an industry where there is no unified way to get in was last acknowledged by Oscar-winning actress, Helen Mirren, in her recent award ceremony speech at the BAFTAs.

Guiding Lights is part of Bigger Future, a five-year initiative which aims to make UK film skills the best in the world. It is run by Brighton-based Lighthouse Arts and Training and funded by the Skillset Film Skills Fund.

Whether the scheme will run again, as Lighthouse hopes, is dependent on an evaluation
of the success of the scheme by Skillset.