The big idea

November 5, 2019

Matt McGough, managing director of Ithica Films, tells North East Times that while everyone has a story to tell, it remains paramount to make the audience feel the narrative

There’s an odd sea change happening. Attention has always been key and it’s quite a skill to be able to tell a story in a runtime of seconds.

However, the most interesting thing we’ve seen in 2019 has been a return to long form content and deep storytelling.

The likes of Orsted has been producing these for a while and we have two very different stories in production at the moment ready for release in early 2020.

However, the big change is the movement from ultra-short, impactful films, to more in-depth, Netflix-quality documentary. It’s a real hark back to the early days of my career when the final documentaries coming out of Tyne Tees were happening.

Taking the pieces in play from our briefs and identifying the need to spend time to craft a more detailed picture of our subjects led us to only one choice – make a doc.

Adding this back into our arsenal is a fascinating step. In truth, it is something we’ve been talking to people about for quite some time and as there are two types of content – document or create – then it makes perfect sense to complement the creative with something that just is. Film is always going to be a very powerful medium.

At its best it shows us hidden meanings, pulling together truths we didn’t know were there. It holds up a mirror to reality, as well as being able to pull all the little strands together to tell us something we can relate to.

It is a brave decision to green light this type of content, but the payoff is huge. Even just from watching the edits come together, it’s clear that observing humans going about their day-to-day routine is still a fascinating experience and tells us so much more than some of the slickest promos.

It’s still an addictive thing to view a synced sequence following somebody for 30 minutes, seeing what they have to say, what they don’t say, the interruptions and the idiosyncrasies around their world, with audiences that have so much savvy.

To show something in its unaltered, unfiltered state is a real joy. So far, we’ve been able to flex our filmmaking muscles in a different way.

We still utilise the majority of our cinematic techniques as we would for any other style of film, but so much more is being made of just pressing record and shooting long takes with people at the centre of everything.

It’s something that each filmmaker learns at university and being able to have the skills to craft a story while it happens in front of you requires a great deal of trust from everyone involved.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be a very interesting way of connecting people in the next few months and I can see more people adopting this in 2020.

So much of the content we see and that impacts on us is visual – it feels like it’s only just getting started. We can never forget that the main goal of filmmaking is to make other people feel something.

Ithica Films

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