Tessa Ross [pictured] tells Screen that Film4’s Cannes selections — Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant in Directors’ Fortnight, Paul Wright’s For Those In Peril in Critics’ Week — are indicative of the kind of author-driven work that Film4 is championing across its busy slate.
“There are some fantastically strong film voices out there,” says Ross, Channel 4’s Controller of Drama and Film. “From baby films to huge films, there is nothing that isn’t singular about almost all those films. That’s our job.”
Working with up-and-coming talents, Ross says “is the lifeblood of everything we do, we put it at the heart of almost everything we do. We continue to think it’s our job to source new talents, new voices, new ways of doing things. I love that we grow that family, and people keep returning to make their films. We are a place where that is possible, where challenging work is supported, so you don’t have to disappear after your first film, Film4 can develop and support that.”
Ross continues: “It’s what Channel 4 has stood for and what Film4 stands for. You’re constantly looking to the future, that’s not just with people who have never made films before. It’s with people who want to do it in their own way.”
Film4 Deputy Head of Film Katherine Butler adds: “When you look at the ambition coming through of people making their second and third films that are coming through from filmmakers who made their first films with us, you see there is so much potential for growth so quickly.”
Butler says it’s notable that Barnard and Wright’s films, plus a number of other projects across the slate, “are about contemporary Britain… a lot of young filmmakers are wanting to tell stories about here. That’s important again.”
Film4 is also exploring new ways of working with its digital arm Film4.0 under Anna Higgs. Ben Wheatley’s new low-budget feature A Field In England, for instance, will launch simultaneously in UK cinemas, on free TV, on DVD and on Video-on-Demand on July 5.
As reported last week, Film4’s development and production slate includes Kevin Macdonald’s Black Sea, Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, Ben Wheatley’s Freakshift, Gerard Johnson’s Hyena, Andrea Arnold’s Mag Crew, Owen Harris’ Midsummer, Lone Scherfig’s Posh, Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall, John Maclean’s Slow West, Shane Meadows’ Tommy Simpson, Adam Smith’s Trespass Against Us and Paddy Considine’s The Years of the Locust.
Shooting now are Yann Demange’s 71, Mike Leigh’s Turner, Debbie Tucker Green’s Second Coming and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Nick Cave drama documentary 20,000 Days On Earth.