Dear graduation students, parents, families and friends, teachers and staff members, I welcome you to this graduation from The Icelandic Film School in the spring of the year 2020.
It is always enjoyable for us to graduate students and especially on such a lovely day. Last evening I watched your graduation films and was convinced that you were ready for the deep end. It surprised me how little effect the Corona virus had on the quality of your projects. Because of course this virus completely skewed this last semester. But you did get precious experience in handling the unexpected and defeating this challenge. It happens to be one of the most important features of film making to be able to react to changed circumstances because there will always be unforeseen changes while crafting film projects. For instance the weather, there is no weather in this country, but only examples of weather. It changes constantly and then you need to be able use it and not let the weather control you. It is my experience that the most beautiful film shots in Iceland were shot in extreme weather. When you would not take your dog out for a walk, but exactly in those storms lie opportunities to separate our projects from the calmness of Hollywood where there are always sunny skies. Which is why you need to embrace the saying that local is global. When it comes to choosing future projects it is good to keep in mind to extract them from your local environment. Think like a chef that only uses local produce. And speaking of food and films, try to avoid making films that are only meant to pass time, like fast food is meant to quell hunger for a short while. Try instead making something extraordinary straight from the farm. It is always an experience to watch a film from an exotic country and get to know its culture and traditions, for example the “Parasites” that were awarded the last Oscars. But what environment awaits you?
The positive of the virus is that it created a worldwide condition that we can use to our advantage. It stopped all film making in the world where it flowed before and therefor there are a few grand films awaiting to be shot here. You should all try to get work on these projects and add to your experience. Because in our field we are constantly learning and adding to our collective know how.
I am one of many that the Minister of Education chosen to a committee to shape a vision of the next ten years. In it there is being layed a foundation for a better environment for your future if the government follows through with the proposals. Among others we have put a greater emphasis on growing productions of television material and financially less challenging beginner films. But film making will always be hard work as the global market is so very small. But the desire to tell stories must always be enflamed by passion for the film form as then you will be rewarded by the passion repaid. The passage from an idea of a film to seeing it on the big screen is long. Most of my films have been in the evolving stage for 5 years because patience is a necessity. It is often painful to have a complete film in your mind but not being able to extract it because financing is missing. But trust me, all films benefit from rolling around your head because the knowledge of a painkiller being around the corner is so creative. It is also important to keep in mind that film making is the coordination of multiple artists. It can be likened to a simphony orchestra where each musical instrument plays a part and if one false note is played then you have to start again. That is why respect for others on the project is essential for the best possible end product. For me listening to those that work with me has been especially fortunate. Because the people you work with on each project are improving it. A person that never listens to others usually ends up an isolated idiot laced with an inferiority complex.
Our school is at a milestone, as we will be moving to a new housing before the fall. There we will embrace a long term future vision. We are also working on getting our studies to a university degree. This would not have been possible if not for the kindness of our Minister of Education, Lilja Alfredsdottir, who released the school from many years of contract negotiations with the government and now stands behind the school’s students in making the studies university qualified. As many of you might have seen we have been advertising the position of an assistant principal. This is a new position meant to guide the transfer over to a university level and strengthen the structure of a universal department.
The Icelandic Film School is exactly on the verge, as on Monday the 29th of June the Icelandic University Quality committee will be meeting about the request of the Ministry of Education and Culture about forming a 3 man review board of foreign experts, that will be giving the minister advice on the existing request for university level changes. The Film School has requested that the coming review be held in September and that the expected results would be made on December the 1st.
The reason for requesting an accelerated review is the importance of the film industry for the Icelandic economy and community. It is very urgent for the industry to get it to university qualifications and for the students it is imperative for specialized training, or other future studies.
We are not only speaking of future students in this context. The Icelandic Film School has been operating by university standards from the year 2010, really even 2007. During this time the school has graduated 500 students and you can assume that at least part of them would like their studies to be applicable to a Bachelor’s degree. Among those are the students graduating here today.
We intend on closing the contract with the University of Iceland as soon as The Film Schools university acknowledgement is in place, and offer the one year study at their wonderful film making department up to a BA degree. We hope to be able to offer this 3 year course in conjunction with The University of Iceland for the spring semester of 2021. As well as having the assessment of past studies available. It must be mentioned that negotiations with The University of Iceland has been ongoing for years and is broadly speaking ready. In actuality the university studies begin this fall and the fall semester will be valued as a university level.
The Film School has already begun the transformation. A four person jury of renowned doctors has been chosen, to evaluate the competence of prospective academic employees. Prospective professors will be hired in August. There has also been formed a 12 person university council, among others headed by representatives from all the main professional associations of film makers and actors. Many other items are in development. No fundamental changes are expected in the curriculum and The Film School is confident that it has the professional quality needed, as it has been in international cooperation for years now and has been able to compare the quality of education to all major film schools abroad.
During times like these that are running amok in Icelandic economy, where income has been contracted by a high percentage, and both the industries and the people in the country are trying to reflate the labor and income, it is imperative that both the educational system and government reacts with haste. The Icelandic Film School gaining university recognition and students earning a university degree actually accelerates the rebuilding of an imperative line of work.It is important to remember that the film industry has been among the top 15 revenue makers in the country and has great room to grow. In this position it is crucial that studying at The Film School is correctly evaluated for the best possible support.
My mother used to begin her speeches by saying; “Today is a day worth remembering.” That will be my final words to you, congratulations on this beautiful day and may it be one to remember .