Victoria Mapplebeck talks about how her RIFA win became a BAFTA nomination
One of the winners of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research in Film Awards (RIFA) 2018 has been put forward for a BAFTA Television Award.
Victoria Mapplebeck has been nominated for her short film Missed Call in the BAFTA's ‘Short Form Programme’ category.
Filmed on an iPhone X, the film explores the filmmaker’s relationship with her teenage son, as they discuss how to go about reconnecting with his father who has been absent for over a decade.
“The nomination came completely out of the blue!” she says. “I wasn't expecting it at all, and I'm really pleased Missed Call is in the BAFTA's because they are primarily television awards and I think this is a sign that they are beginning to make a gesture towards the fact that there are different ways of making and commissioning films, and different audiences.
“I do suspect Missed Call is the lowest budget film in the running!”
Victoria, who is a Reader in Digital Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London, has spent years experimenting with smartphone film production.
“Missed Call begins with the last email (my son’s) father sent in 2006 and ends with the first phone call to him over a decade later,” she says.
The film explores the ways in which we can collect, curate and share these digital memories, reflecting on how our lives are lived and archived via the phones we hold so close.
“The photos, videos and texts archived in our phones, provide a road map of our digital past,” says Mapplebeck.
“Things are really changing for filmmakers. Online is a great way of reaching a much bigger audience; and also a way of having a dialogue with your audience, because you can have comments and a conversation with viewers, even if that can be hard sometimes.”
But along with an increased level of intimacy with audiences, smartphone filmmaking also encourages a DIY, do-it-now attitude that Mapplebeck finds liberating.
“The gap between the idea and the execution of the idea have never been more narrow,” she says.
“I've always been a self-shooting director. But even a short time ago that involved a huge bag of semi-professional, expensive kit. Now you can get all you need in your back pocket. It's incredible. And the whole idea of what constitutes 'low budget' has changed. You can make films for a lot less money than ever before.
“I think a lot of filmmakers my age moan about the way the commissioning structure has changed. But I do believe that overall things have got better, simply because you can just get on and make films, whether you are 18 and just left school, or in your 50s like me.
“When I look back to the time when I had a series on Channel 4 and big budgets, big pressures, that was when I was at my most miserable. I'm much happier in this DIY world.
“I think it offers people an opportunity not to get stuck in development hell; to avoid stalling in the production phase and never moving forward. You can make films quickly and get better with each one.
“Films are now made by making them, not by an endless search for funding.”
Mapplebeck says that winning the RIFA Social Media Short Award helped her take Missed Call to the BAFTAs and develop her filmmaking.
“It was a great opportunity for networking,” she says. “One of the judges was at Aardman Animations and I was able to talk to him about a VR project I was working on.
“The AHRC's help with PR was also very useful and we had some great media coverage.
“The AHRC really understand the importance of marketing and that was a big help. After RIFA I could then go on and show the press coverage Missed Call had received to people, including at BAFTA, and use it as a tool to take things forward.
“The smartphone has transformed how we document the world we live in, both inside and outside the home and I find the increased access and spontaneity of filming with the iPhone X completely liberating.”
The results of the BAFTA Television Awards will be announced on 12 May 2019.