Film

Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo: "Anybody can make a film"

Ever gone to the cinema and thought you could do better? Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo want you to give film-making a go...

How are you encouraging people to enter your short film competition Well Done U?


Simon Mayo: With an enormous prize.

Mark Kermode: Which enormous prize is that, Simon?

SM: The prize is glory. We are appealing to people’s competitive and artistic nature, but they will get a proper U certificate from the BBFC and a screening of their movie in a shiny, glitzy West End cinema.

MK: TBC.

The films have to be no more than two minutes in length and adhere to a U certification – is that just so the competition can have a pun as a title?

MK: Well the pun was a good one and we’ve never knowingly under-egged a joke. People think U certificates have to be children’s movies but 2001: A Space Odyssey was famously a U. The BBFC’s definition of the U certificate is, containing no material likely to harm or offend.

SM: Also, there’s a great discipline in making something for everybody.

With everyone carrying a smartphone, this is the first time in history when everyone could make a film if they wanted to. Has that democratised the art form?


SM: Everybody has the tools. We couldn’t have done this 10 years ago. It’s never been possible to say to everybody, make a movie.

MK: It’s removed the obstacle of having to have huge financial backing. Anybody could sit down and write a short story, a poem or a song. Nowadays anybody can make a short film. It doesn’t mean those stories or poems or songs will be any good but people have the possibility to do it.

Has the film industry benefitted as a result?


SM: If everybody can play sport we’ll end up fitter. If everybody can make a movie someone will emerge as a great talent.

Why do more film critics not have a go at making their own films?


MK: It’s a terrible mistake to imagine that because you enjoy watching films you would enjoy or know about making them. The worst film I’ve seen I couldn’t have made. I can guarantee you I will never make a film and the world will be better for that.

Not even a two minute short in order to enter Well Done U?


MK: I think I would be ruled out on the basis of being related to me.

Is it possible to watch a film without thinking about it critically? Does that not suck some of the enjoyment out of it?


SM: Mark is the critic and I’m not. If you’re a critic my guess is you’re always analysing. The equivalent for me is that I can’t listen to the radio without analysing it – music choice, the length of an interview… So that is spoiled.

MK: When you listen to a record do you listen with a critical ear?

SM: If I’m at work then it’s a piece of work.

MK: But I’ve gotten into your car – on the rare occasion you’ve given me a lift – and you put on a CD on and say listen to this it’s great. That’s you enjoying the music because you like the song.

SM: Sure, but you wouldn’t play it on Radio 2 because it’s a little bit too 6 Music or Radio 1 or it’s Mozart…

MK: I don’t think there’s any difference between watching a film and watching a film as a critic. Plus, everyone’s a critic. Everyone comes out afterwards and asks, what did you think of that?

But as a professional critic does that way of thinking extend beyond films? Are you always reviewing holidays, bus drivers and so on?


MK: The problem with criticism is that it sounds like criticising. Criticism is reacting to something and responding to it.

Magazines too? How would you review The Big Issue?


MK: I think Edward Lawrenson is one of the finest film writers writing at the moment and I’m a huge fan. Simon?

SM: I agree with Mark on that.

For details about how to enter Well Done U visit bbc.co.uk/welldoneu. The closing date for entries is August 28 2015 at 6pm

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