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BFI Future Film Festival Opening Doors For Young Filmmakers


BFI x Black Dog Films award winner Simisolaoluwa Akande discusses why the festival is so important for young filmmakers

BFI Future Film Festival Opening Doors For Young Filmmakers

The Ridley Scott Creative Group's Black Dog Films have been working with the BFI Future Film Festival for the past four years, with the annual Black Dog Award providing funding and mentorships to promising young filmmakers. The first recipient of the award, illustrator Alice Bloomfield, recently signed to the Black Dog roster, and last year’s winner Simisolaoluwa Akande just completed a six-month mentorship with the production company. Ahead of the 2022 Festival this weekend, Simi discusses what she’s learned and why the BFI Future Film Festival is so important for young filmmakers.  


A year ago, my short film ‘Dudu’ won the Black Dog and BFI Award for Best Experimental Film. The festival was the first time I realised that there is space and an audience for the type of work I make, and it gave me an opportunity to work with Black Dog. When I first met the Black Dog team, we discussed my aims and aspirations and constructed a six-month plan. I wanted to gain experience on set, explore different roles in the industry, start to build a network of contacts in film, and find support to plan future projects. 

Only a week into the mentorship, I was given the opportunity to assist with producer Emma Cairns as a production runner on a project for Tanqueray, that would be directed by none other than Jordan Scott. It was my first experience working on a large-scale project and it made me realise how shoots are so intricately designed for optimal productive and creative output.   

The work was so dynamic; in a single day I would shift from photographer to wardrobe assistant, to runner, to resident hot beverage acquisitionist. Working across so many different departments gave me real insight into how everything comes together. And I was so pleased to see that the make-up and wardrobe crew were almost entirely made up of people of colour. I met Nigerians with whom conversations were performed in tones of Yoruba, my mother tongue. What a joyful experience!  

There was a pool of opportunities at Black Dog waiting for me to dive in headfirst. I overheard an office discussion about a Paul Smith shoot coming up directed by Leonn Ward and I jumped to be involved. I have been a long-time fan of Leonn’s work and the opportunity to work on her set could not be missed. Leonn was very accommodating, allowing me to watch over her shoulder as she directed, noting the way in which she worked with the crew and talent.  

The team also organised an opportunity for me to spend a few days with Creep Post, where I had the opportunity to talk with the resident colourist, Chris Bell, whose grading style expressed darker skin tones with such balance and richness. He gave me tips and tricks for grading darker skin tones that I could put into practice in my work.  

One unexpected challenge was when I was offered to feature as an extra in a Giff Gaff spot! As an aspiring director, being in front of the camera presented a unique vantage point to see how directors communicate their vison with talent and with the rest of the department.   

On some days, I would work on reception in a more administrative role, picking up calls, organising pick-up/drop-off of packages, and so on. The position provided the opportunity to broaden my skills, using it as an opportunity to network and learn about the various roles in the industry that often go unmentioned in university or outside the film industry.  

The Future Film Festival gave me the confidence to seriously pursue my dream to be a filmmaker, opening doors to spaces and people that I could only have dreamed of working and learning from. I’m looking forward to attending again this year. 


The BFI Future Film Festival is the UK’s largest festival for young, emerging filmmakers. The festival runs across four days in February (17-20), with events and screenings taking place both online and in-venue at the BFI Southbank, all of which are focused on helping talented young filmmakers aged 16 to 25 to break into the film and screen industries.  

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RSA Films, Thu, 17 Feb 2022 09:39:58 GMT