Posted on 16/12/2011
Amanda on location with the assistant art director.
Signing up to an MA in Screenwriting for Television and Film Amanda Faber, like many students, had dreams of a future making feature films. But while most students hope for work experience on a Brit blockbuster, Amanda set her sights on obtaining the filming rights for her favourite novel and landed herself a coveted producer role alongside veteran film-maker Richard Holmes.
Following the success of their film Resistance, which is in cinemas now, they set up their own production company AIR Production Limited - all while Amanda was still studying.
“I’ve absolutely loved every minute,” Amanda reveals. “Working with Richard and Isabelle [Georgeaux - co-producer] has been tremendous and we have other films lined up.”
Amanda was just weeks into her course when she approached her favourite novelist Owen Sheers to ask if she could buy the rights to Resistance – the tale of a group of women who awake to find that D-Day has failed, their small Welsh village is occupied by soldiers and the men of the village missing. She discovered that Richard Holmes had already secured the rights so she phoned him expecting a polite brush off. “I was passionate about the novel and wanted this to be my first film. Richard said that if I could raise £400,000 then I was in. He told me afterwards that he thought it would be the last he heard from me.”
As a distance learning course, the MA in Screenwriting for Television and Film (retreat) at Royal Holloway, University of London enabled Amanda to juggle looking after her two small children, her charity work and course commitments. So she also added the task of raising £400,000 to earn her a role on the film. In an unconventional move, Amanda tapped into the existing interest in the book amongst book groups to find investors. And, along with other donors, including a large group who lived in Wales where the film is set, she managed to not only hit the £400,000 target but far exceed it. “I found my experience working as a lawyer and running a charity invaluable," she says.
As the film moved from pre-production into filming, Amanda found her course invaluable. “I don’t think the lecturers realised that many of the questions I was asking were not theoretical,” she says. “Their huge knowledge and expertise was just terrific. I was literally operating hand to mouth, in that I would be discussing areas in class and then going onto set the next week. There are guest speakers from the industry on a regular basis and it really is a window to the industry.”
Amanda found herself working on every aspect of the production process from script editing, locations, casting, contracts and legals. “By wonderful chance I came across a producer who was willing to give me a chance,” she says. “It has been a remarkable opportunity.”
Resistance was released in November in the UK and before the dust has even settled, Amanda is setting to work on her next film collaboration with co-producers Richard Holmes and Isabelle Georgeaux.
“Our next film will be an Indian comedy called Jadoo, which was written by Amit Gupta as a BBC 4 play but has been turned into a feature. We start filming in the first week of March.”
She adds: “I’ve also got to finish my MA. We are paired with course partners and I’ve been lucky enough to work with Sina Bowyer who is a very experienced writer and we keep in regular contact when we are not on retreat. Our year group is a true inspiration. I have loved meeting and working with such a talented group of writers. I am planning to develop a film with Sina and Paris based Joanna Gordon once the course is over.”
For more information about the Media Arts department and the MA in Screenwriting for TV and Film, click on the links.