In an interview published by organisers of the Nikon European Film Festival, Kapadia added: ‘Just the idea of not having an idea could be a film. It’s up to you to tell a story in an interesting way or show it from a different angle.’
Kapadia, whose movie Amy has recently been nominated for a Producers Guild of America Award, was speaking in his role as chair of the 2015 Nikon European Film Festival judging panel.
The Nikon European Film Festival challenges enthusiasts and professionals to make a 140-second movie, on the theme ‘make an everyday moment memorable’.
Asked what he likes about filmmaking, London-born Kapadia replied: ‘It’s the motivation to tell a story, show something, or to show your way of looking at the world. I think that’s what’s really exciting about filmmaking.
‘It uses all of the arts: it’s photography, it’s sound, it’s music, it’s dance. It could be acting, it could be poetry, it could be anything.’
The biggest challenge for a filmmaker, he asserted, is ‘to finish what you’ve started’.
‘Go out there, make a film about something. Even if you don’t think it’s perfect… they never are.
‘But make sure that you enter it – you’ve got to be in it to win it! Even if you don’t win, at least you took part.’
Asked for his advice for budding filmmakers, Kapadia said: ‘…just do it: try it, give it a go! Everyone starts off making a film and wondering whether it’s going to work out or not.
‘The exciting thing is to take yourself out of your comfort zone.
‘You may make something that really stands out. You may even win an amazing prize.’
Kapadia’s film Amy, which documented the story of singer Amy Winehouse – using previously unseen archival footage – broke UK box office records in July.
The Nikon European Film Festival competition, which is open until 15 January 2016, boasts a top prize of a Nikon D810 DSLR, plus a trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
‘What your story is about and how you tell it is up to you, but it must be clearly inspired by an everyday moment,’ say contest organisers.
‘We want you to express your creativity, so our theme is simple and straightforward, letting you tell your story in your own style.
‘We want to see how you can take the mundane and make it memorable on screen.’
Films can be shot on any device, but must be in HD format.
To enter, visit www.nikonfilmfestival.com.
Interview with Asif Kapadia, in full
Who has inspired your short filmmaking?
When I started out making short film, one of the films that inspired me the most was by Jane Campion. She made a short film called Passionless Moments when she was a student in Australia and it’s a brilliant film about really ordinary moments in life. It always stayed with me. She turned them into a series of episodic films, and that really inspired me and I made a series of short films like that myself. When I started making short films that was a reference that I always went back to.
What do you like about filmmaking?
It’s the motivation to tell a story, show something, or to show your way of looking at the world. I think that’s what’s really exciting about filmmaking. It uses all of the arts: it’s photography, it’s sound, it’s music, it’s dance. It could be acting, it could be poetry, it could be anything.
What would the ideal submission to the Film Festival have?
As chair of the jury, I’ll be looking for really imaginative ideas; something original that’s going to stand out from the crowd. It has to have a moment, idea or shot which makes you think I’m going to remember that. Especially when you’re watching lots of film, it’s the one that stays with you or somehow emotionally engages. I’ll be trying to find people who have a good eye for film and who use the 140 seconds in a clever way.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
My advice to new filmmakers is to just do it: try it, give it a go! Everyone starts off making a film and wondering whether it’s going to work out or not. The exciting thing is to take yourself out of your comfort zone. You may make something that really stands out. You may even win an amazing prize.
What is the biggest challenge for filmmakers?
The biggest challenge that any filmmaker faces is to finish what you’ve started. Go out there, make a film about something. Even if you don’t think it’s perfect… they never are. But make sure that you enter it – you’ve got to be in it to win it! Even if you don’t win, at least you took part.
Do you have any top tips for the Film Festival?
The great thing about making films is that you can somehow find a way to put across your world view. But for this competition you only have 140 seconds, so don’t try to do too much. Find something that really resonates with you and spend the time telling a simple story well, rather than trying to squeeze too much into it. Also spend time on the sound: the sound is vital. It’s often underestimated how much better a film can be with good sound.
Does it take time to make a winning submission?
No, the truth is we’re talking about 140 seconds, so by the time you’ve read this you could have made a film. It’s never too late to make a film and to enter. Even if you think you haven’t got any ideas, you can make a film about anything. Just the idea of not having an idea could be a film. It’s up to you to tell a story in an interesting way or show it from a different angle.
How can aspiring filmmakers keep motivated?
I think the main thing about making films is that you learn through your own failures. You can read books, you can look at other people’s films, you can watch people on YouTube, but really the only way to learn about making movies is to try it. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and all sorts can go wrong – the big challenge is standing up, dusting yourself off and doing it again.
Why are you working with Nikon on the 2015 Nikon European Film Festival?
I think it’s great that Nikon has set up this competition to give up-and-coming filmmakers the opportunity, motivation and inspiration to make short films. The Grand Prix all-expenses paid trip to Cannes is also the ultimate prize. In the film industry, it’s the most important film festival in the world. You never know who you might meet, or who might see your film and remember you. Maybe in five or ten years’ time you could be working with these people. So I think it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
What excites you about judging this short film festival?
I just love short films. My entry point into the industry was making short films and I still make them now. Being chair of the jury is very exciting because hopefully I can inspire people to go off and make some films. Who knows, it may be their entry point into the industry and the start of a career for themselves.