I was very excited to be able to invite my good friend Sandy Lieberson, the renowned film producer (Executive at Fox in charge of films like Blade Runner, Alien, and a producer of such films as Performance, Rita, Sue and Bob Too and so on) to come and talk with my masters students at the University of Salford.
The three hour session was very informal and allowed students not only an opportunity to discuss Sandy’s experience, but to discuss their own ideas and thoughts about their futures. I think students found this very inspirational, for Sandy’s generous advice and encouragement is based on a wealth of experience that spans traditional Hollywood right through to digital independent film. Sandy was keen to challenge students’ notion of employment and concepts of what the ‘industry’ actually is. Interestingly, many students are still stuck in thinking of going into employment in a definable industry based on past models, but Sandy was able to shed some insightful light onto how the context of filmmaking has and is changing. Independence, proactive engagement, innovation and self sufficiency were themes that kept coming up, as did the importance of personal interaction with potential collaborators and commissioners. The idea of ‘getting a job’ is no longer what many students think it is, as there has been a profound shift in the state of the industry and where the future of it lies. Students were encouraged to have their own web sites and to make sure that their work was visible. A commitment to quality and innovation emerged, too, as key ingredients for a successful future.
Sandy continually tried to get students to think of the internet as a new tool for engaging with industries, audiences and fellow filmmakers. Traditional television and movie industry structures are being usurped by the sheer scale and flexible functioning of the internet. Even talent scouts from various established companies now use the internet as a key tool for discovering new talent, testing new ideas and, indeed, building new business models that are a far cry from the top down approach to film commissioning, distribution and exhibition of the past.
When a student asked Sandy what made a good CV, Sandy simply said: ‘a good CV is one that makes me want to meet you in person’.
A wonderful session, thanks to Sandy and the students.