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BAFTA nomination for independent film – and for Falmouth students

24 January 2014

Acting with the stars in an award-winning film, seeing your name roll through the credits to deafening applause, smiling for the cameras and wiping away tears…

Just a dream? Not for students at Falmouth University, who helped make and acted in an amazing film that is causing a storm on the international awards scene – including a nomination for the Best British Short Film at the world-famous EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) for 2014.

Students on the BA Film and Photography courses at the university created production images, worked as runners and even took on roles as extras in the 16-minute film Island Queen – a dry comedy shot entirely in Cornwall, where the university is located.

The film was produced in 2012 by Falmouth’s Head of Fashion Photography, Emma Hughes, with Lecturer in Fashion Photography Kirsty Smith and Senior Lecturer in Animation Georg Finch as Directors of Photography.

Abbi Hughes, 22, who did a BA in Marine and Natural History Photography at Falmouth University, applied to be a runner and photographer on the film – and ended up with a minor acting role.

Abbi, who graduated in 2013, said: ‘The photography was great for my course as any work you do as part of film, especially working with professionals, counts towards the end portfolio – then all of a sudden they asked me to be an extra.

‘I did two days of the three-day shoot, and it was a rollercoaster – up at six o’clock in the morning and finished at 10 o’clock at night. It was thrilling the whole time and I wish it had gone on for weeks.

‘With big films it’s always famous names and young people like us don’t often get a chance to be part of it, so having so many nominations for so many prestigious awards is just fantastic.’

Island Queen has already won the El Rey Award for Excellence in Short Film-making at the Barcelona Film Festival, 2013; Best Comedy at the European Independent Film Festival, 2013; and made numerous official selections, including the Van d’Or Independent Film Award, 2012; Renderyard Short Film Festival, 2012; and ASFF Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 2012. The winners of the 2014 BAFTA awards will be announced on February 16.

It was written by the comic Nat Luurtsema, a member of the Jigsaw comedy trio who also stars in the film alongside fellow British comics Sam Pamphilon and Toby Williams.

Director Ben Mallaby, Senior Lecturer at London college Ravensbourne, met Emma Hughes when they themselves were at university together, and so were keen to involve lots of students.

Emma said: ‘It felt like a film made between friends – we worked with colleagues, students and the community. What’s particularly nice is that it reflects what we say to our students – that it’s the creative collaborations and networks that you make in education which continue on into industry and lead to some of your greatest achievements.’

Meet the students

Abbi Hughes, from Hertfordshire in east England, was in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) degree in Marine and Natural History Photography when she became involved in Island Queen – and had an experience that she says will last a lifetime.

‘It was an amazing experience to work with an actual production team on Island Queen and to see how the structure of a professional company works after I’d been doing my own projects and editing.

‘I always wanted to be the next David Attenborough, the famous British wildlife TV presenter who goes into the jungle and photographs amazing animals and the natural world – so the wildlife course at Falmouth was already something I couldn’t pass up.

‘I learned a lot of the key skills from watching and talking to Ben, the director, and I’ve taken a lot of the techniques he used in the film – such as filming freehand instead of with a tripod, because it brings more movement to shots.

‘Before, I did all the filming and editing for my work on my own. This experience has really inspired me to be part of a film crew and collaborate more with my peers.

‘I’m currently working with a magazine while trying to set up my own freelance photography and film business. I’m still in contact with the cast and crew from Island Queen, alongside my lecturers at the University. It’s great to know that collaborations you make while studying can last a lifetime.’

David Clarke, 23, is an exchange student from Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada, where he is doing a Bachelor of Design with a Major in Photography. He spent the third year of his course with second-year students on the BA (Hons) Fashion Photography course at Falmouth University.

‘I guess I’m a different breed of exchange student from European programmes like Erasmus, and I think some of my friends at home don’t realise there are opportunities like this. But as soon as I heard I could go for two semesters abroad, I jumped right on it.

‘What really drew me to the Falmouth course were the incredible connections. The instructors have actually worked in the industry and they are so willing to share their connections, so we had really cool opportunities to work with actual companies and produce real-life material for them to use.

‘My group was involved in the skatewear company WeSC (WeAreTheSuperlativeConspiracy), making a fashion film, look books and animations for the 2014 collection. I’d never worked in film before, but it’s where the industry is heading. Now I’ve got yet another skill set in my book when I go back to Canada, and another good thing to put on my CV.

‘I’d most definitely like to collaborate with people in the UK industry in the future, and stay in touch with my instructors – they’re wonderful assets and it’s amazing to get to know them personally.

‘I’ll miss it so much when I go back home. This is your only chance to do something like this – I’m so glad I took it.’

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