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Monday 8 June 2015

The latest final-year film projects

Students, staff and figures from the film industry gathered at Harbour Lights Picture House on Thursday 4 June to see the latest final-year film projects from Southampton Solent University’s film and TV courses.

The morning’s showings covered an extraordinarily diverse selection of films on topics as wide as identity and uncertainty, journeys, moments of life-changing crisis and social interconnectivity.

Darren Kerr, Programme Group Leader for Film and Television, says, “The final-year project is a huge investment of time and effort for students, especially while the rest of their studies are still going on… yet the quality of the films, and the students’ technical abilities, get better every year.”

Among this year’s films was Brian Daunat, Clemence Kolodziej and Stuart Thompson’s The Cut, an ambitious crime drama shot in a single unbroken take. During filming, one take was actually interrupted by the arrival of real-life police officers, after a neighbour became worried by all the shouting!

Meanwhile From Boats to Pasties, by Marcus Palmer, Charlotte Briggs and Kieron Yeoman, was an unvarnished and occasionally hilarious account of the film-makers’ attempt to cycle from Dover cliffs to Land’s End for charity.

The event also presented some moments of extraordinary beauty, such as Shaman’s Pass– a fantasy tale in the spirit of Game of Thrones, shot on the snowy heights of Norway’s west coast.

The critics’ choices

Eventual ‘Best Film’ winner Shells was another visually strong work, telling the moving wartime story of a shell-shocked solider and a brother’s sacrifice.

Alexander Millen, Tamzin Novakovic, Amber Wells

Tamzin Novakovic, who worked on the film, says, “Creating a period drama is always a huge challenge and I’m proud of us for being ambitious and rising to it! Being chosen as the best was just the cherry on top of an amazing experience and achievement!

“The support from our tutors and the fab feedback they provided has given us lots of confidence for our futures in film. This has been the best finish to a growing experience!”

Dave Burden, Senior Lecturer in Digital Film, called Shells “…a powerful, moving film with an excellent script, brought to life by very impressive visual storytelling, well-rounded performances and high production values.”

Writing for film

Students’ written work was also praised, with dissertations by Liam Nicholson and Poppy Reed singled out for distinction. Liam’s The New Flesh, winner of the Dissertation Prize, looked at the relationship between emergent technology and postmodern subject, with reference to the films of David Cronenberg.

Adam Sklar, Best Screenplay

Screenwriters Adam Sklar and Dan Berry-Tatnall picked up the script prizes, with the Screenwriter’s Choice award going to Adam’s The Rising. “It’s amazing to receive this award,” says Adam. “I’ve always focused on filming and editing, so to be able to discover this skill and receive an award like this, it’s remarkable! My gramps passed away last weekend, and I know he’d be extremely proud to see me here.”

The audience’s choice

The event concluded with an Audience’s Choice award, and the final film, Wobbly Rob: a Portrait of an Ordinary Man, emerged as the favourite. A powerful and moving documentary about an ordinary Southampton man, the film revealed the extraordinary life beneath surface impressions.

Lucy Chapman, Alice Berry, “Wobbly” Rob Pearce, Tom Beal, Ekaterina Volkova

Tom Beal, the film’s producer, met Rob while working in the Standing Order pub, where Rob would come to drink – and when the final-year projects rolled around, the film-makers quickly realised what a powerful documentary subject he’d make. “We originally planned to make a fictional piece, but as we spent more time with Rob we realised he had a far more interesting story to tell.

“Our plans changed so much – and it was such a surprise to win the audience award! We’d really like to thank Rob, and our tutor David Alamouti.”

For Solent film and TV leader Darren Kerr, who organised the event with Harbour Lights, it’s been a great end to the year. “The stories have been so strong – film-making is such a balance between technical skill and storytelling, and this year’s selection have really managed that balance well. With City Eye and the National Film and Television School in attendance at the showing, we’re sure our students will go on to great things.”


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