Film-Maker Jack Benjamin Gill on his career so far…

Jack Benjamin Gill
Jack Benjamin Gill

International Rural Film Festival, Hinterlands, launched in Skipton on 16 May. Over 22 events took place across 8 venues and it attracted visitors from across the UK. One film screened during the Horror All-Nighter was Lambing Season by Jack Benjamin Gill, originally from Skipton. We spoke to him about his film-making career so far.

 What inspired Lambing Season?

The initial spark for Lambing Season came from a news story I overheard – I just thought it was a great basis for a thriller. But the main inspiration was North Yorkshire and the rural region I’m from. It was really invigorating when developing the film to have an idea that I knew could deliver a dose of cinema, but still represent my upbringing. I suppose I’m not really here to make straight-laced dramas, but the idea that thrillers, or genre films in general, can be set in rural, coastal or cut-off regions of the UK really needs to be encouraged. The UK’s landscape is there for the taking.

You’re originally from Skipton. How did you get into film-making?

Being from Skipton I didn’t really think about filmmaking until much later in life. It’s not a job I ever envisioned I could do, as there was no visible path to tread, or local industry to latch onto. I basically picked up a video camera in 6thform college. And again, it just felt organic – I enjoyed it. I made the decision to study a filmmaking course at university, and it went from there.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me is work. I have a full time job. I’d love to say that all I do is develop my scripts, write and direct – but that’s only partly true. This is an incredibly hard industry to make a living in. There’s a huge proving ground, and it can take years to gain a foothold. The film industry is largely dominated by people from privileged backgrounds, and although that is being recognised, progress is slow. So I think it’s healthy to let others know that I work a full time job, and in the evenings, weekends and during my holidays I develop my projects. It’s hard but incredibly rewarding. We are currently developing a feature film version of Lambing Season with funding from the BFI, and development from Edinburgh International Film Festival’s ‘Talent Lab Connects’, so that transition from shorts to features is looking more and more tangible.

What do you need access to in order to get into film-making?

Collaborators. There’s nothing else you need to get started. The technology is cheap now. You can pick up a DSLR or your iPhone and make a film. But what you really need is people. Find people who are also interested in making films and make films. Rope your friends in. You should really look at it like starting a band. It’s no different. I went to art school to study film, and the biggest take-away was meeting collaborators – people I now work with today.

For those interested in pursuing a career in film, how can they go about it? Especially those living in more rural areas?

Make short films. It’s so cheap now to make films that no funder will offer you anything if you haven’t already made multiple self-funded shorts. So make films. Put them online, enter them into festivals, and experiment.

The UK’s funding landscape is pretty healthy at the moment too. The BFI have opened regional Film Hubs and have opened a series of schemes for young people, most recently Shortflix and Born Digital. There’s also Random Acts, BBC New Creatives, and competitions like Straight 8. You need to look at these schemes and get on their mailing lists. Apply for EVERYTHING. And when they say no – which they will – apply again the next year.

And if you’re living outside of London get yourself to as many regional events as possible. Some of the biggest festivals in the UK are outside of London and they are great chance to watch films and meet new people.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently in the middle of pre-production on my new short ‘Doggerland’, funded by the BFI, Intermission and Genera Films.

Thanks to Jack for taking the time to speak to us. Read more about and watch Lambing Season here.

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