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Confetti Industry Week 2020: Stephen Graham, Jeanie Finlay and Julian Foddy

9 March 20 words: George White

Confetti's Industry Week is now in its 14th year, giving students the chance to hear from experts in film and television. We checked out the highlights... 

Photo: Sam Kirby

Industry Week is an annual event run by Nottingham’s own Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, and gives students the chance to find out more about the film industry from experts in the field. Throughout the Week, students have the chance to hear from a range of carefully-selected speakers, as well as taking part in hands-on workshops and a popular practical session called “Do What I Do”. 

Previous guests include local legends Vicky McClure and Joe Demspie, and this year’s event was headlined by the nation's most in-demand Liverpudlian, Stephen Graham.  

Confetti offers students the chance to study college and degree-level courses in film and television, as well as other creative sectors. Industry Week is just one of the major selling-points for aspiring movie-makers, who have access to facilities including a green screen VFX studio, screening rooms and broadcast-quality recording equipment. 

We nipped down to Convent Street to check out what the Week had in store for film fans. Here are the highlights… 

Stephen Graham (Actor)
2019 was quite a year for Stephen Graham. Among other impressive achievements, Graham starred opposite Robert De Niro in The Irishman and shocked the nation in BBC drama Line of Duty. This month he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Confetti’s students about his stunning career, what it means to be a working class actor and how to properly shock Al Pacino (unexpectedly slapping a bowl out of his hand mid-take, it turns out). 

Graham imparted his wisdom to members of the audience as they asked questions on all things filmmaking, from how he gets the best out of every performance to which character from Snatch is his favourite (he admitted it’s Cousin Avi, before nailing an impression of Dennis Farina). He was a delightful guest, speaking with honesty and poignancy. “Every decision, every high and low, every mistake has made me who I am today, and I’m proud of who I’ve become,” he said with admirable self-assurance, before giving a message to the aspiring actors in the room, “Immerse yourself in everything you do, and always be in the moment.” That’s sound advice for everyone, we think. 

Jeanie Finlay (Documentary Filmmaker) 
Bringing Overlooked and Untold Stories to the Screen was the title of Confetti’s session with Finlay, and this perfectly summarises her approach to filmmaking. Even her largest-budget production, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, focused on the unsung heroes of the HBO series - including ‘Head of Snow’ Del Reid, who (rightly) takes his job very seriously. “I want my films to be made with heart, and focus on people over process,” she said. 

Finlay came to Nottingham to study Contemporary Arts at Trent, and has stayed in the city ever since. One of her best-received pictures, Panto!, was filmed at the Nottingham Arts Theatre and she is now based at Broadway Cinema, making her an inspiration to documentary students in the city. During the Q&A, she was asked what it takes to become a top filmmaker. Her advice? “Work your ass off.” Simple, really. 

Julian Foddy (VFX Supervisor)
Confetti have described Julian Foddy as a “VFX legend”, and it’s impossible to disagree. Born in Derby, Foddy now works for Industrial Light & Magic - the industry’s first ever VFX studio. His portfolio is the stuff of film nerds’ dreams, including box office hits such as Rogue One, Solo: A Star Wars Story and the subject of his Industry Week talk, Spider-Man: Far From Home

During his presentation, he took students through a step-by-step guide to working on the movie, showcasing his team’s work on match animation, lighting, city-building and - most importantly - getting Spider-Man to do the Aladdin dance. The level of detail in Foddy’s work is impressive, and led to massive praise from Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who said that the visual effects on Far From Home were “the best he’d seen in any Spider-Man film.” High praise from the highest in command. During a lengthy and interesting Q&A, Foddy gave students animation tips, software advice and insights into the industry, before hinting at his next project. What is it? We couldn’t possibly say… (No, really, we legally can’t say). 

Confetti’s Industry Week 2020 was an incredibly positive experience for the city’s up-and-coming filmmakers, with talks from a range of the industry’s leading figures helping to inspire students to follow in their footsteps. The next wave of actors, documentarians and VFX supervisors are now one step closer to taking the world by storm. 

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