TS20: Darklight

“Aim high, for every arrow feels the pull of the earth.” – Dr Tahir Choudhry

Once a year, usually in April/May, Threshold gets away from the office for a long weekend. We spend 3 days reviewing the past year, planning out the next twelve months and asking ourselves where we think we should be going in the future.

On one of these exercises we asked ourselves who’s out there that we admire and respect; who would we love to work with in the future. We each of us wrote a list of ten organisations in secret and then came together to compare lists. At the top of them was the same name – Warp Films. So we wrote to them to introduce ourselves…

Initially, they provided master-classes to some of the young people in our First Light youth media projects, but then, a couple of years later, they met with us to discuss a proposal they wanted us to lead on – recent research revealed cinema audiences for horror were 52% women, but less than 5% of the top technical and creative roles in horror film production were occupied by women. Warp wondered if we could design a year-long programme to fast track the development of horror features proposals from women directors.

We launched at Edinburgh Film Festival in 2006 with a seminar and a national call-out for proposals. More than 200 applicants had to be filtered down to a shortlist from which we would then select ten women filmmakers for a year-long programme of cinema master-classes from key industry professionals including the legendary Richard Stanley, Dog Soldiers’ director Neil Marshall, prosthetics and special effects Supremo Neill Gorton, and many other expert writers, editors, sound design artists, cinematographers, the works!

At the tail end of the project we had ten pitches for commercial horror features ready for the market, of which four received £20k development deals from WarpX, and two were finally greenlit for production.

It was a great learning curve for us and a challenge, but some of the people we met and worked with on this project were people I personally would have happily sacrificed a limb to meet, just a few years before.

The introductory quote are Uzma’s father’s words to us when we first set up the company. I guess this project, more than those that came before it, epitomised the truth behind that sentiment.

Barry Hale

Tahir’s affectionate hand resting gently on my shoulder