London’s notoriously glamorous haunt Café De Paris opened its doors recently to host the annual Raindance Independent Filmmaker’s Ball.
It proved a perfect opportunity for anyone with a personal interest or stake in the British film industry to rub shoulders, from established bigwigs, to students preparing for that BFI retrospective in the future. Raindance’s organiser Elliot Grove seemed particularly thrilled in hosting the event:
“What a terrific night to see almost a thousand filmmakers and film lovers crammed into the historic Cafe de Paris and celebrate independent film, as well as 25 years of Raindance.”
The lavish décor and cabaret atmosphere, set to the bombastic, small-yet-big-band musical stylings of Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm, created the ultimate ambience in which strangers could make extravagant plans. Of course, this was helped greatly by several bars within the venue, which from what I could see, were scarcely given much reprieve.
It would be fair to say that the eclectic mix of celebrity, industry insider and aspiring filmmaker constituted a microcosm of a healthy industry. It would also be fair to say that the event illustrated a massive success in terms of its original objectives of giving the British independent scene a legitimate voice and a platform from which to serve filmmakers looking for that all-important first break.
Indeed, most of Raindance’s year is spent training thousands of new and established filmmakers in all aspects of film. Among high profile alumni are Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins), David Yates (Harry Potter), Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – who actually met at a Raindance course. Raindance training is one of the world’s largest catering for over 3000 students per year.
Tara Fitzgerald, most recently known as Game of Thrones’ Selyse Baratheon but star of some Britain’s most critically successful movies, joined Grove on stage in congratulating Raindance’s growing stable of talent.
Also present and assisting Elliot in the raffle prize giving was Cuffs and Shameless star Karen Bryson, known for her roles on primetime television.
However, the interaction that struck me most took place outside in the smoking area. I got to meet the founder of the BFI and Raindance sponsored Big Reel Festival. This upcoming festival centres on filmmakers travelling from London to Budapest, making a film and editing it along the way. “It's a chance for brave, bold filmmakers to break out of their daily routines and get inspired by the world that's out there. We give you the freedom to make amazing films, with the support to help you make the most of the opportunity.” Whether or not the festival takes off, that the plucky founder was born in the same year as Raindance, can only be a good sign of things to come.