"We were never told 'let the boys do that!'"
Northampton Film Festival Becky Carrier on promoting an inclusive filmmaking culture.
Welcome to our new Saturday culture section. This week Northampton writer Sarah Becker has spoken to founder and director of Northampton Film Festival Becky Carrier on promoting an inclusive filmmaking culture.
Founder and director of Screen Northants and Northampton Film Festival
Produced the BBC Children in Need-backed feature films Macbeth; Nene and Fortune Cookies
Managed many multi-award-winning short films including The Boy With A Camera for a Face featuring Steven Berkoff, Oscar-shortlisted Hotel starring Art Malik, Nice To Meet You with Jamie Dornan and Trudie Styler, and The Operator starring Graham Dickson
Managed production of King Lear for Royal Shakespeare Company in New York
“My biggest driver is helping people work in film who may never have thought of doing it. It would be devastating if someone really wants to do something and has passion for it, but they feel they can’t do it, because of factors outside their control.”
Founder and director of the Northampton Film Festival (NFF) and social enterprise film company, Screen Northants, Becky Carrier is talking about her motivation behind a career in the film industry.
Her passion lies in opening the door to the film industry in Northamptonshire so that people can see what goes into making film and to get involved in an industry that many people believe is out of their reach.
Becky, 39, from “just outside Thrapston”, is hoping the festival - taking place from May 22 to June 4 - will open up even more doors for people to enter the industry, and experience the excitement of collaboration.
Now in its fourth year, NFF will bring people together in Northampton to watch short and feature length films produced by film makers from Northamptonshire and for the first time, from the wider UK.
There will be more than 14 different screenings of short and feature length films entered into NFF’s competition categories including Northampton fiction drama; GB non fiction documentary and Northants and GB under 16’s short film.
“The film festival has always been about giving Northampton film makers a platform for their work, giving them opportunities to mix and learn but the first time, we want to show off what Northamptonshire has to offer to the rest of Great Britain and open up the competitions to film makers in the rest of the UK as well.
“We want to show people what Northampton is making, to reveal Northampton’s unique character and to show Northampton film makers they are making films worthy of a national viewing.”
For the first time Northampton Museum and Art Gallery will be opening its doors to the festival its multi-media central hall. Screenings will also be held at the festival’s key venue, the Northampton filmhouse and at the University of Northampton.
“We are also doing a roadshow taking the short films out to other parts of Northamptonshire including Weston Favell Forum Cinema, the Corby Savoy and the Castle theatre at Wellingborough.
Becky laughs. “I love the challenge of putting it all together.”
With the growth of the festival, it seemed a natural step for Becky to take on the role of NFF full time this year, handing over the reins of her former social enterprise organisation, Screen Northants to Paul Mills.
She set up and ran the organisation with Paul for almost seven years.
“We met in Weston Favell Shopping Centre where I was doing workshops with young people on feature films. I come from a film community background and he comes from feature film background.”
Together they created and ran the organisation to provide home-grown commercially viable feature films and to work with some of the most under-represented and disadvantaged groups of people to give them new opportunities they might never have thought possible within the film industry.
During this time, Becky produced the BBC Children in Need-backed feature films Macbeth, Nene and Fortune Cookies with talented local film makers and young people, often from less privileged backgrounds.
“I wanted to give the people of Northampton tons of experience on real film sets and to raise their aspirations,” says Becky.
“I have always loved my job and realised from working on different filmmaking projects that young people get so much more out of the process than just a job in the creative process. We take young people to places and events they haven’t been to before. I also want to help people who are good enough but who have never even thought of working in the creative industry.”
Becky believes that her pioneering spirit is rooted in her childhood in Northamptonshire.
“Growing up in Northampton, I didn’t feel I faced any barriers. I felt really lucky I had parents who didn’t bestow any type of stereotypes on me. Going to an all-girls secondary school in Kettering also had a profound effect on me. We were all girls and had to do everything. We were never told “let the boys do that!”
“I found that setting up my own company, putting myself in charge, gave me the opportunity to design my own life and forge my own path – I wasn’t relying on other people to hire me.”
She discovered her passion for filmmaking at the University of York as a student. She signed up to study philosophy and politics but by chance she took part in an activity during freshers’ week that was to change the course of her life.
“I took part in a freshers activity filmmaking club – a 48 hour challenge and was blown away by it. I love problem solving and film is a massive problem to solve and can be very addictive in a fun way – I got hooked.
“York didn’t do film studies but I still got loads of work experience and on leaving university, I knew I wanted an organisational role in film production.”
Becky went on to do just that becoming a freelance film producer for ten years in London working on many varied film projects including satirical fairytale short The Boy with a Camera for a Face - the voiceover was by renowned actor Steven Berkhoff.
“Another personal highlight of mine was working on a project with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I was based in New York filming a feature length play of King Lear which was recorded and distributed to thousands of school children in New York.”
Now firmly settled back in Northamptonshire, spearheading the Northampton Film Festival, Becky wants to put down long term roots and buy a piece of land.
“I’m looking to buy some land in this idyllic county to call my own and on which to build a house. If anyone knows of any land that is for sale?”
A number of ticket options are available as well as a festival pass that gives you access to all screenings. Programme and booking details are here.
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