BA (Hons) Film Production alumnus, Jake Smith, has screened his documentary feature film While They Watched at Houses of Parliament.
The film, which is set in the future in North Korea, has won 12 awards at various film festivals and was distributed in 100 countries in 13 languages.
Jake talks about life after graduating:
Can you explain a little about what you do?
“I direct and produce films and media content for television and audiences online. At present my company Tusko Films specialise in documentary filmmaking. We are expanding into hybrid docs with high production value. In the future we may look more at fictional films and branded content. We are currently looking for animators, SFX artists, cinematographers and editors to work on upcoming projects.”
Tell us, briefly, about your career journey since you graduated?
“My graduation film The Peoples Kitchen was broadcast on television, which helped a lot. I had a job lined up before I left AUB that I had been offered after interning the previous summer. Interning can be great if you make the right connections.
“I worked in a few distribution companies; Revolver, Metrodome and Dogwoof, which taught me aspects of the film industry that are not always taught at university. Key areas like how to get your film seen, how to find your audience and how to reach them. I guess these are specialist.
“I worked on a bunch of titles including Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Dogwoof’s Cartel Land.
I wanted to make another film and, after learning more about North Korea, decided to move over to Asia and begin production on While They Watched, which became my first documentary feature film. It’s set in the future after the regime has fallen. After that I got some more job offers. I’ve worked for Vice and travelled to Europe and Africa on commissions for NGOs.
“At the moment I’m unit directing another feature documentary called After the Sewol.
“Tusko Films has been launched on the back of all this and we have some very exciting project in 2017, which includes us going to America to film in a maximum security penitentiary.”
Can you tell us a little about the work you’re most proud to have produced so far?
“I think I’m most proud of While They Watched, because I came up with that idea having a coffee and scribbling notes and saw it all the way through to where it is now. Every step, which was a long process, needed attention or it may have not got there. I’ve never run a marathon but I think it’s comparable. Also, having never made a film over that length it really was a learning curve. It’s rough around the edges and made with very little money in a foreign country. I’m my own worst critic but I must enjoy it because there are plenty more projects in the pipeline in a similar vein!”
Finally, what’s your one piece of advice for the next generation of creatives?
“Find what you like to do and try only to do that. It may take a few years to be able to support yourself but, even if you aren’t being paid what you think you should be, at least you are doing something you love to do. At the same time don’t feel bad about charging what you are worth. If you are struggling and if you need to take a part-time job to support your art, then think nothing of it. Do what ever you need to do, to make time to be able to focus on what you like to do. Anyone that would like advice can get in contact with me at tusko.co.uk.”