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DFTV Graduation films – 2014


On June 19 in Sao Paolo England were sliding out of the World Cup courtesy of Luis Suarez who was using his feet rather than his teeth to make a point. Lots of people in Glasgow celebrated on June 19 and here at the Screen Department we did too but it had nothing to do with football. It was our annual showcase screening at what has become its regular home, Cineworld in Renfrew Street.

Our students do great work for the three years they are with us and it is a real joy for them to be able to see the fruits of their labours in state of the art digital format on a big screen in a large auditorium in front of a capacity audience. It’s a genuine cinema experience and this year it was enhanced when the cinema was dressed with movie style quad posters designed for all three films by Hannah Kelso.

As always the programme was wide and eclectic; our three graduation films featured an X-Files style story about aliens, a high school romance with a mystery, and a heartfelt drama about an absent father. To whet the appetite we also had a supporting programming with featured, amongst other things, a music video, a couple of films from our second years, and a trailer based on our collaboration with the BA Acting course on the River City set – Shieldinch Nights.

With appetites well and truly whetted we moved into the body of the screening and once again music and factual content combined in another film from our Documentary Development module. Late Night with Glasgow from Kurosh Kani is an intriguing look at Glasgow after dark from the point of view of the people who provide our late night musical soundscape; buskers.

Over the years the BA Digital Film and Television Course has acquired a reputation for strong but eclectic drama and so these films continued that theme.

First up was Crescent, written and directed by Hannah Kelso and starring Paul McCole, Sharon Young and Ben Henderson. This is a family drama with sci-fi undertones as an eight-year-old boy’s life is turned upside down when crop circles appear in the fields of the family farm.

The Scribbler, written by Hannah Smith and directed by Kurosh Kani, is our first foray into what you might call teen rom-com territory. Eric Cooper (Ross Barbour) isn’t having the happiest of times at high school but the work of a mysterious vandal leads to all sorts of romantic possibilities.

Our final film is Our Father, written and directed by Artur Zaremba, and starring Pierce Reid. Pierce starred in our award-winning 2011 ‘silent movie’ The Taxidermist. This time round he has dialogue and gives another affecting performance as a young man who works for an emotional support help line as a way of coming to terms with a difficult relationship with his own father.

The films had a great reception and we look forward to them making their way out onto the festival circuit. However at the end of our tenth anniversary year we can look back on their predecessors with some pride. Last year’s graduation films have set the bar high with a number of successes in terms of awards and international recognition.

Hannah by Michael Crumley won the triple crown of RTS awards with the best undergraduate film award in Scotland, nationally in London at the student awards and then finally the best film at the actual RTS Awards against all undergraduate and postgraduate films across the UK. It also won 2 BAFTA New Talent awards for best music (RCS student Jessica Jones) and Best Writer, Michael Crumley.

The Groundsman has been shown in L.A., Chicago, Berlin and has been chosen by Channel 4 for a screening on their Shooting Gallery initiative. It also won 2 BAFTA New Talent Awards for best short film and best editor, a then second year DFTV student Conor Meechan.

It was a good year for alumni too. Graduates Steven Ferguson and Jojo Erholtz were nominated for Student Oscars for their work on North, a film they made at the National Film and Television School.

This year also saw our first feature with Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril winning plaudits from critics as well as a BAFTA Scotland award for Best Feature and a national BAFTA nomination for Best Feature Debut.

And it was the year in which DFTV established a beach-head in Hollywood. Alumnus Krysty Wilson-Cairns sold her science fiction script Aether to a major studio and just last month was named as one of the UK Stars of Tomorrow by Screen International.

The good news is that this year’s graduates appear to be rising to the challenge. The prospects for all of them look bright. BAFTA Scotland winner Conor Meechan is currently editing the BBC Children’s series The Sparticle Mystery, Tarek Shayne Tabet has shot one feature in Germany and just started another last week, and Rachel Erskine has been working as an Edit Assistant Apprentice on the Warner Brothers Creative Talent scheme. These are just a few of what we are sure will be a great many success stories from the class of 2014.

  • Andy Dougan runs the Craft in Context strand of the BA Digital Film and Television course at the Screen Department of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. For more of his blogs click on DFTV in the tag cloud or follow him on Twitter @andydougan and for more information about the course follow @RCSScreen.