Students get a taste for reel business
A feature film produced by students and their lecturers in an innovative film school has received its premiere at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
College students who star alongside Todd Carty from EastEnders and The Bill hit the red carpet at the Bafta headquarters for the first showing of Treasure of Albion on Wednesday.
It is the second production from the emerging British Youth Film Academy, founded by a film studies lecturer from South Cheshire College, Andrew Walkington, and his colleague Richard Caunt.
Mr Walkington said: "After Richard and I made a short film, we were discussing how hard we had found it to get that far in the industry. So we wanted to give young people the opportunities we never had, show them how the industry operates and give them a true professional experience.
"I don't like the idea of just giving students a camera then saying `run along now', and patting them on the back to say, didn't they do well? I want to show them professional practice.
"Students can think film making is all about being a luvvie. I want to replace that notion with the reality - that it's fun, but hard work and a professional process."
The academy's first film, called Upstaged and featuring the comedian Alexei Sayle, is being considered for a distribution deal. "We did a feature film when no one thought it was possible," Mr Walkington said. He hopes the academy can become self-financing by selling its movies.
Treasure of Albion, which tells the story of a modern-day race to uncover the ancient treasure of English kings, involved 250 students from six colleges in the north-west of England on a summer course.
Students aged between 14 and 21 took on acting roles and did everything from operating cameras to designing sets, supervised by experienced professionals in the pound;112,000 production.
Mr Walkington said: "The students were doing roles which would normally earn them pound;600 a day. They were given a lot of responsibility."
The budget was raised through sponsorship from Manchester College of Arts and Technology, United Co-operatives and Aimhigher, the government campaign to encourage people to attend university. Mr Walkington said they eventually want to launch similar productions across the entire country.
Todd Carty, who plays the villainous Harvey van Bollingbroke, said working with the students made him nostalgic for his time as a child actor. "It is like slipping back in time to my Grange Hill days," he said.
Students, on the other hand, said it was inspiring to work on a professional scale. Dean Fagan from Stockport College said: "It has taught me so much and has made me certain that I want to pursue a career in acting."
St Helen's College student Paul Woodard said: "I worked with a fantastic crew and cast who helped me become part of something I'm truly proud of."