Legend Loach’s advice to young film-makers

Director Ken Loach on the main stage at the Wigan Diggers Festival
Director Ken Loach on the main stage at the Wigan Diggers Festival

Up-and-coming film-makers have been given advice by a legend of British cinema ahead of Leigh’s annual celebration of the silver screen.

Ken Loach, who has won the Palme d’Or for the best picture at the Cannes Film Festival twice, gave some words of wisdom to those looking to follow in his footsteps.

“You will need to get a second job, because you have more chance of being a Premiership footballer than being a film director.”

Ken Loach

He spoke as he visited the borough for the Wigan Diggers Festival, where he received an award, and ahead of Leigh Film Festival later this month.

Loach, 80, said: “Making films can be very simple on the face of it, there aren’t many rules, but you have to look at films you like and think how have they done things, where the camera is or where the light is coming from, what they said or didn’t say in order to get a shot.

“You also have to be really tough with yourself about your work. Look at it really critically.”

Loach also warned would-be auteurs that there are not many places at the top table in the industry and the odds against becoming a revered director are extremely long.

He said: “You will need to get a second job, because you have more chance of being a Premiership footballer than being a film director.

“There are a huge number of people doing the courses but if you look at the number of feature films that get shown by British directors they are very few.

“It’s always been tough but now more people are coming into the business. It’s not about talent, it’s about getting the opportunities.”

Loach, whose work has tackled subjects including Ireland’s past as a colony of Britain, gritty working-class life, foodbanks and the benefits system, also said people who wanted to see a more left-wing society should unite behind current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a passionate speech on the main stage at the Diggers festival he called on those opposing Mr Corbyn to stand aside.

In an interview with the Leigh Observer Loach also said he was inspired to make his latest film I, Daniel Blake after hearing horror stories of people who were on benefits but were being sanctioned and were living on the breadline as a result.

He said: “As long as we think housing is a market in which people can make profits then we shall end up with homeless people.”

Loach was also recognised at the Diggers festival as this year is the 50th anniversary of Cathy Come Home, about the plight of homeless people.