The Draw of Distribution

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10 April 2018

After a recent placement in the Park Circus London office, Nathan Oxford shares his thoughts on following your dreams and his journey towards a career in film distribution.

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September 2018 will mark my 13th year of teaching - at 5 schools, teaching over 10,000 students, and currently as an Assistant Headteacher. 13 may be unlucky for some, but my 13th year will be the one where I follow my passion and make the move – I hope – into the film industry.

My love of film started at an early age, where I could be seen regularly wearing a glorious red cape which danced in the wind behind me – yes, having repeatedly watched Christopher Reeve’s Superman (1978), I truly believed that men and indeed boys really could fly. From that point onwards, I was hooked on the way in which film can inspire, empower and transform. Alongside a highly rewarding career in teaching, film has always remained a burning passion and interest of mine, watching films wherever and whenever I could.

Superman

2015 was a turning point for me, when the school in which I was teaching asked me if I could teach GCSE Film Studies. Do you think I needed asking twice? Armed with a ‘Teacher’s Guide to Film Studies’ and as much material I could lay my hands on, we studied The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and I supported students in creating their own film plots, loglines and marketing materials. It was fantastic to see my passion becoming their passion. To quote one of my cinematic counterparts, John Keating from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) – ‘no matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world’.

And so, I decided, in early 2016, to follow my passion in film and after dipping my toes in the water with a distance learning course in Media Studies, I decided to enrol on a part-time, post graduate course in film distribution with City of Birmingham University, with a view of changing careers when the time is right. Back to John again – ‘Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary’

So, why distribution? Film distribution is about making sure that a film is available for viewing by an audience. It is the bridge between film audiences and filmmakers. I’m fascinated by the ways in which a film is marketed, how decisions are made about how best to bring a filmmaker’s work to the widest possible audience, and also the impact of the developments in digital exhibition.

In addition to my studies, I have recently completed a short work placement at Park Circus, which has given me a fantastic opportunity to network within the industry and to also gain an understanding of the platforms and methods used to market classic and contemporary re-releases. It’s hard to get your mind around there being 25,000 films in the Park Circus catalogue, and the resulting breadth and regularity of screenings happening all over the world at cinemas, festivals and other amazing venues!

So, what’s next for me? I will be volunteering at the FlatPack Film Festival (Birmingham) and have applied to be part of the marketing volunteer team at the Sheffield Doc Fest 2018 in June. Beyond this, I will continue to look for opportunities to gain further experiences within the industry. I’m both nervous and excited for the future, but as Superman once said “we just need the courage to put on the cape.”

Nathan Oxford writes online at www.nathanoxford.comyou can find him on Twitter at @MoviReviews