Creating Your Own Funny World, organised in partnership with BFI’s Future Film campaign, brought together a talented group of filmmakers to offer advice to a room of 50 aspiring creatives. An interactive discussion and workshop took place, chaired by Iyare Igiehon, known for his work on BBC digital radio and directing music videos, joined by filmmakers Mustapha Kseibati and Justin Weyers, and comedian Mawaan Rizwan.
Kseibati was keen to stress the importance of mining the things that matter to you most for inspiration. The filmmaker filters themes of identity and companionship through inspirations gleaned from 1980s culture; in particular, Marvel comics, filmmakers John Hughes and Robert Zemeckis, and sitcom Cheers. He championed public funding schemes as invaluable ways to receive funding. Through such initiatives run by B3 Media and UK Film Council, he secured the means to make his first short Big Tingz, as well as follow-up Skateboards and Spandex, a look at bullying and friendship, which bagged him a place on the ‘Guiding Lights’ mentoring programme. Since then, he’s completed a new short, Painkiller, produced in partnership with BBC Writersroom nominated for a Discovery award at LOCO, and is now working on the script for his first feature length.
The writer and director was also keen to impart that his path to recognition hasn’t been without its frustration and uncertainty, which reached an apex when he found himself working for a well-known service provider, editing scripts during shifts whilst disgruntled callers chewed his ear off about slow internet connections. He stressed the importance of making the most of opportunities to learn from others, and not letting setbacks get you down (it took numerous entries into schemes before his first short secured funding).
Mawaan Rizwan was eager to echo Kseibati’s sentiments. Uploading weekly sketches to YouTube for over three years, via stints on JSA and periods moonlighting as a production runner, he’s garnered a following substantial enough to make the videos profitable, toured with Josie Long, and received support from director Gurinder Chadha. Rizwan emphasised the importance of collaboration with peers as a way to exchange ideas, as well as accessing different audiences.
Justin Weyers, director of London agency Made Visual Studio, and animation producer for A Liar’s Autobiography, delivered nuggets of wisdom pertained to creating the right ambience for pitches. He underlined the importance of representing the thematics and aesthetic through the presentation of a project, and was eager to hammer home that the resounding messages of the discussion and workshop were to collaborate, choose subject matter you care about, work hard and don’t let setbacks dent your spirit.