Maxim Jago thinks that small budgets are the best way to judge the talent of newcomers to the industry.
Maxim Jago thinks that small budgets are the best way to judge the talent of newcomers to the industry.

The media industry depends on personal recommendation as a means to finding work. Networking is the oil that keeps the mechanism moving. This is usually put as "it's who you know, not what you know", or something like it.

I used to think this was a problem but now I've been on both sides of the fence, I've learned that CVs don't mean a thing when it comes to the nitty-gritty of telling stories. The fact is that making TV and film is mainly boring - the dull cold fog of never-ending repetition, broken occasionally by sunshine rays of sheer joy. Who would you rather share that experience with? Someone whose company you enjoy or someone who suffers from a hazardous personality disorder? We would rather work with someone that, say, we'd like to spend an evening in the pub with than someone with better skills and more experience but who is a pain to be around.

But how do you know if the person you are working with actually has that divine spark of truth to bring Art (big "A") to their work? Just because you like them, it doesn't mean they can Create.

Think how many paintings will never be seen. How many songs will never be heard. How many films will never touch your heart and change your mind for good because a studio executive, a commissioning editor even, happened to like the company of the person they already knew and didn't spare the time for the newcomer with no personal recommendation.

We should spare a thought for the feisty and inspired newcomers who may not have friends and relatives in high places but have more truth to bring into the world and more passion for what they do than the established "cool people". These newcomers are the lifeblood of our future industry and we should do everything we can to support them.

How can we tell the good ones from the bad? I think more low-budget competitions - in fact, any short film showcase and competition where the quality of the idea is more important than the quality of the picture. A small tea and biscuits fund for a major player can be the entire budget for an indie. I've made a few films with budgets of under£20. Indie film-makers have nothing to lose so they can really push the bounds of convention.

Big-budget productions gloss over a lack of real substance by making it shiny with money. If those productions are stifled by the hands of economics and executive opinion, perhaps we should be listening out for the cry of the new blood out there in the wild. Some of the best people are never found and a closed shop mentality maintains a tradition of squashing the aspirations of some of our greatest artists. We should help bring them to life as media practitioners and support them in any way we can. Quality isn't budget, it's passion and care.

Maxim Jago is a freelance editor and director