2012 BUFTA Winner – Blake Borcich

1.How did you hear about the BUFTA competition and what was your main reason for entering?

I was lucky enough to be selected as a finalist in the 2011 BUFTA competition. Earlier that year I viewed some material of the 2010 competition that introduced me to the format of the Awards, which I found to be most impressive and an exciting experience. I also viewed some of the previous finalists and was captivated and inspired by the wonderful talent that these young filmmakers were putting into practice. I enjoyed the experience so much that I was determined to enter the 2012 competition. I initially heard of BUFTA through the 2010 educational pack that I received from my school. 

2.How did you come up with the concept for your film ‘Resistance’ and what steps did you take to turn your concept into reality?

I decided that I wanted to test myself by creating a 10 minute film, with minimal actors, in one location. I wanted to refine my skill as a filmmaker in directing actors (esp. eliciting emotion) and exploring a confined space with my camera that holds the audience’s attention. I wanted it to be a period piece and I wanted an enigmatic story that would translate to screen, working on two levels. One – purely entertaining and moving the audience’s emotions. And two – a deeper level of meaning and understanding (achieved through subtext read on the initial level).

With these desired constraints, my story rapidly evolved into an emotional, meaningful message movie – a period piece with enough ambiguity to divide audience interpretation and to spark debate – which is to me, what cinema SHOULD do. I thought to bring the bigger, outside issues of war into a room with the victims – this is through the character of Gunter – and play with stereotypes and the concept of perception vs. reality, to provide my audience with an insight into Hitler and his regime in the 1940’s, and a message that they can relate to modern day society.

Much refinement was required to produce a final, water-tight blueprint to photograph. The finished script was sent to Germany and France where it was translated by fluent-speaking friends of mine to ensure the translation was accurate –key to the film’s reception by international audiences. Following this, months of work was poured into creating the set of the underground cellar. Much care was taken and great lengths were reached by my art department to design (and source materials to produce) the set, costumes, hair and make-up design and props. Casting proved to be a difficult process as I had to find fluent-speaking (German and French) actors. Using a free and open source, I eventually found the perfect ‘Gunter’, and two wonderful girls to play Josette and her Grandmother.

Resistance uses much pure cinema – that is, visual emotion from actors to develop the story. With such a reliance on nuances in emotion to provide the audience with character clues, rehearsal played a vital role in refining their performances to a very specific level.   

The thing I found most rewarding from producing Resistance is something that has increased my love for and faith in this industry. The way that my cast and my crew, as individuals, committed themselves physically and mentally to work with one another at full capacity on my ‘student’ film, when they were receiving little to no monetary compensation, is so humbling and inspirational. Filmmaking is and always be difficult, on any level. But there ARE people out there – professional people (cast and crew) – who will do anything and everything to help bring your vision to life – no matter your age, budget or experience.

3.Your winning films ‘Resistance’ and ‘The Trouble with Alexander’ are very different genre’s, do you have a favourite genre?

 I believe that the strongest asset of mine, that I’m fortunate to have as a result of my filmmaking endeavours over the past few years, is my understanding of different genres. Its key, in any filmmaker’s early years, to explore a wide range of genres and to learn the codes and conventions that set them aside from each other. From this experimentation, your own style and flavour will grow.

I think it’s important to be able to retain your own style whilst being able to produce high quality work in all genres throughout your career. You HAVE to be able to do that.

Needless to say, I adore the filmmaking process, regardless of the genre I’m working in.

4.In your opinion, what do you find is the most difficult stage in the film making process and why?

You make a film because you have a story to tell. The script IS the film. Production and post-production are two little processes that ‘simply’ transfer the words on the page to the screen. Yes there is room for inventiveness during photography, but your final *abandoned* script MUST be water-tight, with everything you want in your story, on the page…and it has to be GREAT. If you have a GOOD story, you have nothing but [what will be] a waste of time, money and resources. It HAS to be great…and great is hard.

It is a difficult process to shape the ideas in your head into an engaging and entertaining, REFINED story that’s ready to translate to screen. Most importantly, the script (your film) must have a distinctive personality. It must have heart. And that’s what needs to come from you, the writer. Your script bust be impassioned – the story that YOU want to tell – but it needs to appeal to and work for your target audience.

* Why I say abandoned is because “a movie [your script] is never finished, only abandoned” ~ George Lucas.   

5.What is your favourite stage in the film making process and why?

I’m infatuated with everything about bringing an initial concept on paper, to the screen. Although principal photography is the shortest, most expensive, most stressful and highest pressure of stages, I think it’s the best. Whenever I call “Action”, something truly magical happens. Everything – the months of preparation and tedious processes hours, minutes and seconds leading up to this point of “Action” – falls into place. After “Cut”, there will be more work and other processes to ‘complete’ the shot. But the atmosphere – the buzz – of the film set at that moment when everyone is silent, all equipment and everyone’s eyes are pointing at the actors, is enchanting, thrilling and unparalleled. I can’t stand not being on a film set!

6.How confident were you that you might win the BUFTA competition?

In any film competition, judges are looking for originality and thought in your work. They don’t assess based on face value. THEY’RE the professionals who know the early signs of talent. Personally, I could see in the other entries the passion, creativity and consideration that went into producing them, and I thought that any one of them deserved to be rewarded based on the originality and thought behind them. I honestly never thought that I would win BUFTA.

7.What is your advice to students thinking of entering a film into BUFTA and what tips and tricks can you offer to assist them in creating a winning film?

It’s important to encourage young filmmakers to really milk their resources. There are many more ways to bringing your vision to life than you think. I was able to get an ACS accredited, award-winning cinematographer simply because he liked the way I worded my casting call on a free and open-source website. An AFI award winning actor signed on to my previous project because he loved my script (out of 2000 scripts he receives every few months). People ARE out there to help you. Collaboration is key, and everyone has something to contribute to your work. Just ensure you are passionate about your story and you put yourself out there demanding people come to you…they will!

Whilst an aesthetically pleasing image is essential nowadays to connect with audiences, it’s not all that hard to achieve and it should not be the focus of your time and energy. Once you have refined your script as best you can, it is crucial to rehearse and block through your shots, ensuring EVERY shot and every detail within the frame is well considered and is telling your audience something new they need to know.

Throughout each stage of the filmmaking process, always be thinking about your audience – how you’re entertaining them and how they may react to certain characters, certain situations, camera movement, lighting, locations etc. But most of all, ensure that you make impassioned work. Don’t make movies to win awards or impress people with your skill in moving your camera. Make films that speak to people and tell stories that YOU want to tell. Observe what others are producing, so you can produce yours uniquely. Test your script, test your film edit, and be open to suggestions – this is a collaborate medium. Listen to others, but don’t be swayed if it’s not what you believe is right for your work. It’s YOUR art. It’s YOUR expression. It’s YOUR contribution to cinema.

8.Share your memories of winning BUFTA and explain a little about what opportunity it has given you.

The format of BUFTA is unlike any other awards ceremony. After my 2011 experience, I was excited about just being invited to attend this year’s gala ceremony. None of us knew what to expect on the night – which is what made it so exciting. We were treated like royalty and all the finalists and our families should be thankful for the wonderful experience that was given to us.  

All of this year’s finalists are to be congratulated for the extremely high standard of work that they produced, and further congratulations go to the award recipients. I was moved and so thankful for the judges awarding Resistance Best Director on the night. Directing is my passion, and amidst my Year 12 studies this year, I really pushed to extend myself in my craft, to produce a film whose story and meaning is important to me. This award, along with my category awards and scholarship hold immense power in their inspiration and encouragement of me as a person and as an artist.

9.Upon visiting the campus for the BUFTA Gala Ceremony, what were your initial thoughts of Bond University?

Bond University’s campus is remarkable. Anyone will tell you that it’s striking beauty makes it a very desirable place to live and learn. What I was particularly interested in of course was the standard of the actual course. What impressed me was the format of learning. The commitment of both the students and of the staff to practical work applications was promising. I recall one camera operator who was supposed to be on me at one point, but was instead filming a finalist on another table. He then appeared to get word (from his earpiece) that he was misinformed. He proceeded to curse.

The fact that the BUFTA ceremony is actually a unit of work for Bond students is indicative of the smart, contemporary, industry-tailored format of teaching and learning. I look forward to being nurtured by the staff and students at Bond University. 

10.What is your ultimate ambition?

I have fallen in love with the moving image and I want to spend my life contributing MY stories to the world of cinema. I take great pleasure in bringing a film – a piece of art – from nothing to the screen, where people can escape for a moment and have their emotions transported and their views on the world enthused.

11.In one sentence, sum up your BUFTA experience.

BUFTA has been such an exciting and enjoyable experience with life changing rewards.