OPINION: Supporting Bristol's Emerging Creatives

As emerging creatives around the UK start developing their practice, relocating to London becomes frequently advised by mentors.

Words: Nathan Hardie, @hardiewrites

Images: Del Hibbert, @crossingthedanny & Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

It’s understandable when 54% of art sector jobs are based in the Southeast region with an average salary of £42k, but obtaining one of these positions is easier said than done. The wage at entry level was difficult enough to survive in the capital before the Cost of Living Crisis; you’re competing against so many other underpaid talented artists in an oversaturated market. Without having pre-existing connections to overcome this price barrier, it can feel impossible to escape square one. 

Consequently, I cannot begin to comprehend what I was thinking when, after six months of unemployment during the pandemic, I decided to pursue a career in film journalism. Not only was I faced with the previous statistics, but I didn’t have any qualifications in this field, merely transferable skills and a bookshelf of DVDs.

Image: Del Hibbert, @crossingthedanny

Polite people have described my actions as brave; I’ve likened my choices to delusional! This article will not dispute otherwise. Yet, I do hope to encourage that, for Bristol residents like myself, London is no longer the only option for a career in the film industry. The crucial step is building a portfolio. In film criticism, Letterboxd or a personal blog is essential to finding your voice, but getting articles published is needed to stand out from the thousands doing the same. 

Freestyle Bristol posts news, reviews and opinion pieces from 16 to 30-year-olds on any Bristol-based project. Furthermore, their digital platform is open to showcasing podcasts and photo galleries; they’re always looking to nurture up-and-coming talent.

Title/ caption. Del Hibbert, @crossingthedanny

Covering the latest releases as a newcomer is pretty pricey when gaining experience. 

Subscribing to BFI Film Academy South West’s newsletter means you’ll receive exclusive discounts on Watershed events, such as 20% off selected screenings from this year’s London Film Festival. These come alongside plenty of opportunities for filmmakers, like short courses to develop skills and Make Shift’s monthly talks in the Pervasive Media Studio

Similarly, Boomsatsuma specialises in creative technology diplomas for college students, which they can progress into a degree. Having these qualifications shows the commitment employers want on set alongside a worthwhile library of work. Moving through these pathways also helps to build connections.

Image: Del Hibbert, @crossingthedanny

The friends made here are potential crew members on your next project or the chance to get to know talent executives looking for new regional voices, such as the step up to BFI Network South West or Cables & Cameras. However, for latecomers like myself, you don’t need a degree in this field to succeed.

Theoretically, only a phone and some actors are required to make a short, yet we can strive for more. Creating a production alone is incredibly daunting, but Tabb helps break the barriers of assembling a highly skilled team. Designed for Southwest filmmakers, the networking site allows members to advertise roles and apply for paid opportunities. In addition, Tabb hosts monthly shindigs with screenings and talks, so there are several chances to create a crew.

For networking with businesses, Gritty Talent has been supporting under-represented groups to gain entry into the creative sector. Alongside signposting local roles on their social media and newsletter, they provide CV and interview assistance to ensure applicants are fully prepared to attain the job. 

As they liaise with Channel 4, the BBC Natural History Unit, and several production companies around the city, it’s evidence of a burgeoning industry that shows no sign of slowing down.

Image: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

These are just a few organisations that have helped me get where I am today, with plenty more I haven’t been able to collaborate with. For example, I’ve met several great people behind Creative Youth Network that support young artists from all backgrounds. As a freelancer, joining Bristol Creative Industries should be next on my list so I can boost my contacts. There’s a myriad of avenues for emerging artists in Bristol, and the Southwest creative hub continues to grow exponentially.

Nathan Hardie is a member of our team and is developing a career as a film critic. Find out more about Nathan and the projects he’s been working on here.