Up and coming: Savannah James-Bayly

The Tab meets up and coming UCL film maker Savannah James-Bayly.

Savannah James-Bayly is a somewhat reluctant second year Molecular Biology student and altogether enthusiastic film maker. This week the Tab caught up with her to discuss her work, aspirations and inspirations.

Tab: How long have you been making films?

I’ve been working around films for around three years and actually making my own for about a year and a half. The first film that I kind of took the lead role in producing was at UCL, in my second year

It was a really steep learning curve! I’d gone from just helping out on sets to having a major role in this feature. It was micro-budget and most of the crew were still studying so it was pretty hard to manage it around that too. It took a long time- we shot it in two or three months, and it’s just finished being edited.

Tab: Who are your favourite film makers? Would you say there are any you feel you take a distinctive influence from?

That’s a hard question! In terms of producers, I would say Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, who set up Working Title Films. They’ve managed to do what very few other film makers have, in that they’ve managed to bridge the gap between an artistic style and commercial entertainment. Now they have bigger budgets to do whatever they want and are still making great films- like Love Actually.

Tab: Is that the kind of film you’d like to make then?

No, not really! But the film industry is essentially a business, and you’ll never get funding for a film unless it has the potential to make money. I think that’s why I like the idea of being a producer, because it brings together the artistic side and the commercial one. So in that way I’d like to copy them, doing a good job on both aspects, but not particularly in themes or content.

Tab: If you had to compare your films to those of another film maker, who would that be?

It’s quite difficult, as the films I’ve done up to now have all been quite different things. I think the first film I talked about, as much as it was a great experience, is probably not the type of film I’d like to make. I really like action films, but my sort of thing is character dramas and really bringing out the people and the emotions behind the action. I’ve set up my company called Fox Club Films and I’m going to try do three short films of a high quality next year and have them all character dramas, so I can narrow down what I really want to be doing. So yeah, I wouldn’t say at the minute I can compare what I’m currently doing to anyone else, just what I want to be doing.

Tab: Give us one film you wish you’d made?

There are so many! I really enjoyed A Serious Man. It has that same quality as The Sessions, where you have quite a harrowing story that is really quite emotional, but has elements of humour too.

Tab: Where would you like to be in five years time?

After graduating, I’d really like to go to the National Film and Television School. I worked as a fundraising assistant over the summer and produced a showreel for them and through that met some of the students there. The standard is just ridiculous- three or four hundred people apply every year and there are only eight places for each course, so if you can get in there you are well set up. That’s what I’m aiming for in the short-term.

The great thing about going to a film school like that is that, in film, it is a world completely based around networking and who you know, so being surrounded by such talented people is only a good thing. I met a director there who saw the showreel I did and asked me to produce his film, which is just being edited now and looks really impressive, and I think meeting people like that is a great advantage. Then after that I’d want to go on and find my own team, who I feel could help me make the best film possible.

Tab: Is there any piece of advice you’d give to aspiring film makers?

Get together with some like minded people and just start doing your own stuff. You learn more in a day playing around with a digital camera and some friends than a week being tea bitch in a production company! UCL Film Society is a great place to meet people and start discussing and developing ideas. There’s a very active core of film makers working on a variety of different things and who can always do with a hand.

One of my aims for Fox Club Films is to provide a way for students to start making bridges into professional productions.

Finally, if you want to see some of the great stuff that has been done by society members, look at Sam Baron’s YouTube channel, who recently graduated from UCL.

After initially rejecting the industry that includes both her parents, Savannah has come full-circle and discovered a real passion for film. With her clear vision, industry knowledge and evident networking ability, there is little to suggest UCL’s latest aspiring producer will not become a success, both artistically and commercially.

Savannah’s film company, Fox Club Films can be found here: Fox Club Films