Director Debs Paterson is one of BAFTA's 2011 Brits to Watch, an initiative showcasing new British talent to the international industry.
Her credits include award-winning shorts We Are All Rwandans and Supraman and debut feature Africa United.
Congrats on being selected as one of BAFTA’s Brits to Watch. What’s been your career highlight of the past year?
My greatest career highlight ever has to be our red carpet Leicester Square premiere [for Africa United] last year at the family gala of the London Film Fest. All of the kids who starred in the film were dressed up to the nines, and the atmosphere was amazing.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young person trying to break into your discipline and get noticed?
Don’t wait for a big opportunity – keep making small things. The small things will teach you loads and build up a body of work. You have to make your own luck – waiting around never got anyone anywhere.
How important is knowing people? Is raw talent enough?
Raw talent is really important, but so are other people. Having good working relationships is critical – it’s a mixture between knowing what you want, and being good to work with.
Which of your projects are you most proud of?
I’m proud of all of them for different reasons. Each film is this unique labour of love, and when it finally exists and goes out into the world, and you hear back from different people who have seen it, it’s amazing.
How do think the UK film industry will change in the next few years?
The film industry seems to be changing really fast, in the UK like everywhere else – technology being more accessible and also word of mouth / social media impact increasing all the time – and this is really exciting.
The human need for a good story won’t ever change – but the way we consume, expect and receive stories is changing all the time. We’ve lived through a revolution in many ways – technology means we’re global now, not just British – and the consumer has more power than ever. So it’s all about playing with what that will mean over the next few years – and Britain has a great reputation for innovation.
Give us some insider info (shhh): Who would you chose as your ‘Brit to Watch’ in the coming years?
There’s a wonderful cinematographer called Kate Reid who shot the indie feature Blooded this year – she’s seriously talented. Ivana Mackinnon will probably become one of the great producers of our generation. Our UK actors Roger Nsengiyumva and Sherrie Silver from Africa United are such rising talents – I would love to see them on the list in future.
Top left: Debs at the Soho House Brits to Watch reception. Others: Location filming on Africa United.
Brits to Watch Portrait: BAFTA/ Barry J Holmes