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Masterclass: Shaping the Future

Masterclass: Shaping the Future

Films contribute to how we shape our life and the future. Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Catarina de Sousa, and Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo discuss how they use short films to contribute to systemic change from the bottom up. What is the impact of subtle messaging in films, and how can filmmakers weave important themes into their work without being preachy? 

"Is the future always about discovering new planets and colonizing new places, or are there other ways to look at the future?"

“Is the future always about discovering new planets and colonizing new places, or are there other ways to look at the future?” Maxime notes that as a filmmaker, it is important to look at the future in a different way, and not just associate it with scientific or financial progress. However, this can come with some challenges, for example in the financing of a project. Financiers often have a different agenda than the films that filmmakers really want to create. Filmmakers want to experiment and deviate from the beaten path, while financiers often prefer a more secure approach with less room for exploration. 

Furthermore, when dealing with current topics, filmmakers have to be careful, as current topics often revolve around sensitive themes. Catarina emphasizes the importance of creating a safe haven for everyone involved in filming when dealing with these topics. As a filmmaker, you have to ensure that everyone feels safe enough to participate. It is crucial to keep in touch with everyone before, during, and after filming. Maxime agrees, saying that he always spends time with people before filming them, so that he can build a relationship with them. 

Meanwhile, the short film industry is going through some drastic changes. Under the influence of technological developments, the line between reality and fiction is becoming increasingly blurred. Everyone has become the protagonist in their own story via social media and we all have access to content of all kinds and is posting or consuming it all day long. Catarina noted that she does not resist this and tries to use it positively. She also does not mind seeing her films on platforms such as Pirate Bay, as it means that people have free access to the stories she tells.  

The future unfolds in ways we cannot anticipate. Filmmakers’ task is to observe these developments and to respond to them. Or not. Filmmakers can also contribute to shaping the future by depicting different future scenarios and highlighting important themes. Shaping the future is thus twofold for the film industry: on the one hand, filmmakers contribute to the future by telling stories and changing viewers’ perspectives, and on the other hand, filmmakers are observers of all developments. By all means, an important responsibility. 


Maxime Jean-Baptiste and Catarina de Sousa were speakers at a masterclass during the industry program of Go Short 2023 on this subject. The masterclass was moderated by Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo. The information and quotes in this article were extracted from this masterclass. 

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