Award-winning writer/director Toby Fell-Holden is a British filmmaker based between New York and London, who graduated from Columbia’s Film MFA, and holds a BA in PPE from Oxford University. His short film, Balcony, has played at over 100 film festivals. It won a Crystal Bear at the 66th Berlinale, the Iris Prize, was long-listed for the 2016 Academy Awards and received a nomination for Best British Short at the BIFAs.
Toby is also a Screen International Star of Tomorrow for 2016, and has been awarded fellowships from the Moving Picture Institute and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the moment, he is currently developing feature projects in both the UK and USA.
Toby visited SAE London in October 2019 to deliver an SAE Extra masterclass to students. For those who weren’t able to attend, Toby kindly took some time to answer some questions about his career as a filmmaker, in the hope that SAE students will be able to emulate his success.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities and duties?
My work consists of screenwriting, directing, producing, and teaching.
What are some challenges you have faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
I have sometimes found myself limited in resources but believe that if you have a good script, that can open doors and overcome so many obstacles. So perseverance in your craft and a good network of people helps overcome many of the challenges in film.
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
Write every day.
What's the most important thing our students can do to ensure they are industry-ready by the time they graduate?
Get onto as many sets as you can while you're a student, PA, intern, mop the floors for free, whatever it takes to start experiencing real filmmaking and to demonstrate to your future allies and employers how you might be indispensable to them.
Any other advice you would give about forging a career in the creative industries?
It's a leap of faith so it helps if you feel it's the only thing you want to do, it's a long journey, but a rewarding one.
Read our write-up of Toby’s SAE Extra masterclass here.
Note: SAE Industry Insight is an interview feature where we talk to people working within the creative industries about their roles and how they got there, with the intention of providing SAE students with career advice. The people we interview are not necessarily affiliated with SAE in any way.