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Monday 1 July 2019

A film featuring Nick Reynolds of Alabama 3, death masks and Jacob Rees-Mogg has helped five Solent University television students scoop the Undergraduate Factual TV award at the national Royal Television Society (RTS) Student Television Awards.

The brainchild of BA (Hons) Television and Video Production students Jesse Hargrave and Curtis Stephan, Nick Reynolds: The Final Portrait tells the story of Nick Reynolds, singer of band Alabama 3, son of Great Train Robber, Bruce Reynolds, and one of the few remaining sculptors of death masks - the likeness of a person’s face following death, mostly taken by making a cast directly from the corpse - in the UK. 

The winners of the national RTS Student Television Awards 2019, sponsored by Motion Content Group, were announced at a ceremony held on Friday 28 June at the BFI Southbank, hosted by BBC Radio One presenters Matt Edmondson and Mollie King.

Siobhan Greene, Head of Entertainment Commissioning, ITV and Chair of the RTS Student Television Awards, said: “The juries this year had some extremely tough decisions to make, narrowing down an impressive line-up of incredibly creative entries from all over the UK.”

Already a winner at the RTS regional awards earlier this year, Nick Reynolds: A Final Portrait took the national title with judges commenting: “Had the jurors gripped from the start. It was a layered film that had so much to say about death and how we view the subject matter. Nick is a great documentary character and the film left us wanting more. Great music.”

Talking about how the idea for the documentary came about, Jesse Hargrave (24), who directed the award-winning piece said, “Curtis and I happened to catch a radio documentary that Nick Reynolds had done about death masks. After researching him we found there was so much more to him than his hobby. We decided it would be a fantastic idea to produce a documentary about Nick, his unique hobby, and his life.”

Lewis Woolcock (camera), Adam Polley (production assistant) and Stacey Willis (producer) completed the award-winning student team.

Speaking after the ceremony, Adam Polley said: "It felt wonderful to be crowned the winners of the award,  we had not expected to win and to do so was a complete shock to us. I learnt a lot at Solent under the guidance of some of the best lecturers and guests in the world of television, and it would not have been possible without them and their tutelage." 

Senior Lecturer Tony Moon, who helped supervise the project said, "Winning at the RTS is not easy. It requires a film that is unique, has a strong sense of narrative, and technically perfect. We are proud to have students who can operate at such a professionally high standard."

Both Jesse and Curtis are continuing their studies at Solent University on the MA Post Production in Film and TV.