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Spotlight on Debs Paterson

6 July 2011
Debs Paterson

We put the spotlight on director Debs Paterson to ask how it feels to be identified as a BAFTA Brit to Watch and to get her insight into the film industry today.

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You’ve been selected as one of BAFTA’s Brits to Watch. What has been your career highlight of the past year?

My greatest career highlight ever has to be our red carpet Leicester Square premiere last year at the family gala of the London Film Fest. All of the kids who starred in the film were dressed up to the nines, and the atmosphere was amazing.

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Which of your projects are you most proud?

I’m proud of all of them for different reasons – each film is this unique labour of love, and when it finally exists and goes out into the world, and you hear back from different people who have seen it – it’s amazing.

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What single piece of advice would you give to a young person trying to break into your discipline and get themselves noticed?

Don’t wait for a big opportunity – keep making small things. The small things will teach you loads and build up to a body of work. You have to make your own luck – waiting around never got anyone anywhere.

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How important is knowing people? Is raw talent enough?

Raw talent is really important, but so are other people. Having good working relationships is critical – it’s a mixture between knowing what you want, and being good to work with.

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Debs Paterson - Africa UnitedHave you been to Los Angeles before? If so, how does it feel to be a Brit over there? If not, what are you expecting?

I have been to LA a few times before. The first time I went, I felt like I couldn’t ‘find’ LA anywhere – it doesn’t really have a centre like English towns do. After a few visits I realised LA is all about people. Then it got really fun.

Debs directing on set in Rwanda for the 2010 film Africa United

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BAFTA President the Duke of Cambridge will be attending the event. What will you say if you get the chance to meet him?

Does he like our film?

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How did you celebrate the Royal Wedding?

I was in LA at the time so I watched the highlights the next day. I can’t believe I missed the street parties in London though – they looked like brilliant fun. It was amazing to see how much everyone even overseas took it to their hearts.

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How do think the UK film industry will change in the next few years?

The film industry seems to be changing really fast, in the UK like everywhere else – technology being more accessible and also word of mouth / social media impact increasing all the time – and this is really exciting.

The human need for a good story won’t ever change – but the way we consume, expect and receive stories is changing all the time. We’ve lived through a revolution in many ways – technology means we’re global now, not just British – and the consumer has more power than ever. So it’s all about playing with what that will mean over the next few years – and Britain has a great reputation for innovation.

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Give us some insider info (shhh): Who would you chose as your ‘Brit to Watch’ in the coming year(s) – who are you tipping for big things?

There’s a wonderful cinematographer called Kate Reid who shot an indie feature ‘Blooded’ this year – she’s seriously talented. Ivana Mackinnon will probably become one of the great producers of our generation. Our UK actors Roger Nsengiyumva and Sherrie Silver from Africa Untied are such rising talents - I would love to see them on the list in future.

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