First feature advice from BIFA-Winning Director of ’71 Yann Demange
A cat and mouse thriller, Yann Demange presents his first feature film, the blood-soaked ’71, at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The film follows new recruit Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) a British soldier deployed to Belfast and left behind during a routine mission that goes awry. Running for his life from extreme Irish nationalists, the lines are soon blurred as he finds himself targeted by both sides in a nightmare-ish fight for survival. Now on general release, the film has received critical acclaim across the UK.
I caught up with Yann during the premiere of the film, and asked him about some of his advice for getting a first feature off the ground.
Yann, you went from Top Boy to ’71- both gritty dramas with some great lead performances. Are you going to focus on film now?
Film has always been my first love and I hope I get the chance to make another one. But it’s not really a decision between TV and film anymore as there’s brilliance in both of them. If you have a story you want to develop, TV can be outstanding. Shows like Breaking Bad have changed the way we view TV shows as an audience. You can’t just see yourself as a ‘filmmaker’ anymore… but as a visual creator.
Yann, you studied film then went onto study for an MA in directing. What were your experiences as a film student?
I love film school! It’s where you cut your teeth and learn what you want to do. Also, make mistakes! It’s important to do this at school and grow into who you want to be.
Any advice to first-time filmmakers looking to get their idea off the ground?
Tenacity! You have to be thick-skinned in this game. While there’s nothing at stake, you have nothing to lose, just make sure to try different things. Don’t care about failing, just take risks. Do it while there are no eyes on you! No-one has seen my first three films, I buried them because they are so, so bad! Just don’t be scared of failure, it’s what grows out of it that’s important.