Sophie Ibbotson is a third year filmmaking student at Manchester School of Art, creating fictional and drama films. She tells us all about her university experience, her inspirations and future plans.
What project(s) are you working on right now?
I’m currently in the preproduction stages of my major/graduate film which is to be submitted later on next year. At the moment I’m just researching into the theme of fairy tales and incorporating that into my film script. I want to really push myself for my final film and create something I’m proud of.
Where’s your favourite place on campus and why?
My favourite place on campus is third floor Benzie i.e Village Green, I love how open and spacious it is there, you don’t feel closed in at all. I also like how other creatives can share the space and work together in a relaxed atmosphere.
“The Way it’s Meant to Be” – A film I both produced and edited in May this year. Following the life of a man and the love of his wife, raising awareness of the terrible illness, dementia. I particularly enjoyed working on this as the older couple are actually my Grandparents, a very proud and challenging project for me as neither of them are actors or had done any acting previous to this, so introducing them to this was something special.
Most inspiring book, exhibition, catwalk etc?
The most inspiring book for me is a book called Awakening by Shakti Gawain which contains daily affirmations for 365 days which has to be read every morning. It helped me think about my thoughts and feelings and helped me focus not only on my work but also on the relationships with myself and others, it really puts everything into perspective… Give it a read!
A film which inspired me to do filmmaking was “1408” directed by Mikael Hafstrom, I remember watching this when I was quite young and thinking “I want to make films like that one day”. I know it’s not exactly the big Hollywood blockbuster or the “indie” type students seem to lap up but it’s something which really stuck with me and inspired me to write scripts and direct whenever I can. I think the use of music and cinematography within it is brilliant and as a horror-buff it’s something I adore! It consistently blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, something I like to explore within my filmmaking.
What’s the worst and best thing about art school?
The best thing about the art school is being taught by industry professionals, they know what they are talking about as they are living in the industry and can give the best advice.
The worst thing about the art school is the lack of equipment available to us, this sometimes limits our work as we cannot get the best equipment for the films we want to make.
The 2nd film I ever worked on at University over a year ago. For this I was editor, runner and Make-Up Artist. This raises the issue of the importance of a strong crew with plenty of people to help out on set to save time and free other crew members to do the job they have set out to do. However, in saying this, this film helped me discover skills I never knew that I had and encouraged me to try new roles within filmmaking.
Is your work political, personal or about aesthetic?
I’d say my work is more personal than anything else. Although the majority of my work is fiction and mostly a drama/horror, it always has some piece of me within the film, something I want to share with audiences. I don’t like to spoon-feed audiences however, so any points I do want to get across in my films are very subtle and beneath the surface. Some people will get it, others won’t, that’s the beauty of filmmaking and any art form, it’s all down to personal perception.
What is the best experience you’ve had so far this year?
The best experience I have had this year has to be when I was filming my short film “Tempus” in early February. Although there was nothing special about this film in particular, it was something I was incredibly proud of. This was the first film that I both written and directed, it felt great to know that any positive feedback/grade to come from this was down to me, I didn’t have to rely on others writing or direction. The team I worked with for this was incredible and I am proud to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone as it paid off.
Do you have any advice for other students who wish to study your subject?
I’d tell students to persevere with themselves, regardless of how doubtful they feel of themselves and their work. The beauty of filmmaking is that it’s all based on personal opinion, there is no wrong answer so never let anyone tell you you’re wrong or your work is not enough. Treat every piece of work as a learning experiment, if it fails you learn from this and move on, making every project the best it can be at that time.
Interview by Amy Smithers.