Screen blog: DFTV Graduation Films

So what do they have in common? A guy who makes guitars from biscuit tins; a man with an unhealthy interest in his young neighbour, a Stepford community mind-controlled by music; a fame wannabe who is a legend in her own mind, and the darker side of football success.

The answer is that when you take them together you have the programme for this year’s graduation showcase of final year students on our BA Digital Film and Television course. I may be biased but I think that’s an ambitious line-up but then we’re an ambitious course. And this year’s screening was our most ambitious to date; for the first time we took the screening out of our own building and screened it at Cineworld Glasgow in Renfrew Street. This involved another first in converting our films to a digital cinema format but when you are shooting the movies on the Red Epic – a platform designed for big-screen film making – it seems only fair to showcase that work on the big screen.

Also I think it’s pretty cool that you can have a full house snacking on popcorn and hot dogs while you are watching student films.

The programme kicked off with Sci-Fi Ville, our latest collaboration with the BA Musical Theatre course making use of our access to the BBC’s River City backlot. This is a massive production; on one day we had 73 people on set. But the results speak for themselves. Sci-Fi Ville is a unique collaboration; an all-singing, all-dancing love story set against a back drop of a town where the citizens have been brainwashed to sing and dance until the Resistance takes a hand.

Next up was a film about which we are especially excited. Tin-Tone is our first foray into factual film making from our Documentary Development modules and we see Ed Halligan’s story of a guitar repairman who has carved out a special niche in the business as a marker for the future. Tin-Tone is a company created by Jon Free who makes bespoke guitars out of found objects like biscuit tins and table legs. The film follows Jon through the creative process and features performances from the musicians who play these extraordinary instruments.

These two were curtain raisers for the high quality dramas on which we have made our reputation. This year all three films were made by writer-directors kicking off with The Groundsman from Jonny Blair. David O’Hara and Brian McCardie star in a story of the darker side of football fame. O’Hara is a former football star who is now working as a groundsman to maintain his connection with the club, but when the club goes bust he is forced to confront the emptiness and tragedy of his life.

Changing tone Dolly’s House from Christopher Sneddon looks at the downside of our desire for fame. Dolly, played by Eve Niker, is a reality TV wannabe who blames her exit from the show on poor editing. Her solution is to show the world the ‘real’ Dolly by turning her home and her life into a 24/7 live streaming extravaganza. But just who is the real Dolly, and is anyone really interested.

The final film in the programme was Michael Crumley’s Hannah which features a powerful performance from John Kazek as an obsessive collector who makes plans for what he sees as his greatest collection when a teenage girl moves in next door.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the DFTV course and it’s been quite a year. One of our alumni, Paul Wright, has had his debut feature chosen for Cannes and Edinburgh and moving our graduation show onto the big screen should encourage our students to realise that this is ultimately where they could be. There was a full house of industry representatives, students, cast and crew, and proud families and judging by their applause at the end they had a great time.

But we are not resting on our laurels. The graduation show is a very public farewell to our third year students but there is another less public ritual that we also conduct at the grad screening. We have just finished the selection process for September’s intake and we invite these new students along as an introduction to the department. It’s a chance to meet some of the colleagues they will be working with for the next three years while at the same time showing them what is expected of them.

And they get the same message that the students who made the grad films got three years ago. The bar is set high but we expect them to exceed it. They usually do and for the next three years we will give them every encouragement. It should be fun.

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