Northern Film School Successes - Winter 2019
A roundup of some successes, stories and achievements from some of the graduates from the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University.
Vianet Djenguet graduated from Leeds Beckett in 2006 and is now a freelance wildlife cameraman with numerous notable credits to his name, including producing and staring in an episode of Natural World in 2017 entitled My Congo.
With relation to the programme Vianet said “My Congo was an amazing project, but there were some challenges too. I’m quite a private person so revealing so much of myself about my background and my childhood to so many was quite difficult for me. My job often focuses on revealing other people’s stories but when the camera turned on me I felt quite exposed. There were physical challenges as well, including a 10 hour rainforest trek to meet a local tribe as well as following a silverback and his gorilla group. But it’s worth it, I love telling stories visually, whether they involve humans or wildlife, I love challenging myself to give a voice to the voiceless.”
Speaking of his time at Leeds Beckett Vianet added “The course was exactly as advertised and what really impressed me was the hands on aspect, I was able to use professional equipment and right from the beginning had the latest equipment in my hands. I particularly enjoyed the Cinema Verité classes - I never missed one - so storytelling from behind the camera has always been something I've carried with me.” You can check out some of his more recent work on the 2019 BBC series First Year on Earth.
Some Body, Man on Bike and Argot are all films by 2018 Northern Film School graduate Matteo Palmas. His first short film Man on Bike, a documentary about life, death, and bicycles, premiered as one of 10 finalists in competition at the Oscar-qualifying Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and has made the official selection at a number of festivals. Some Body, billed as ‘a visual poem for two bodies and one voice’, won the Best Student Film Award at Screen.Dance in Scotland and was acquired by the Horsecross Arts Public Museum Collection, Perth. Matteo’s third film, Argot, a short drama about a father and a son trying to reconnect in a world without language barriers, won the RTS Yorkshire Student Award for Best Drama and was defined by the industry jury as ‘An imaginative and mature film with a brilliant central premise’.
Matteo said “When people ask me what my experience of film school was like, I keep telling everybody that it was pretty incredible for me. I made four short films during my time at the film school, three of which have gone on to playing at international film festivals worldwide.
“I have made a recap of where my films have been so far and it’s been a pretty incredible journey really. They have screened in Genoa, Vancouver, Montana, Oregon, New York, Macedonia, London, Perth, York, and of course, Leeds. I didn’t get to go to all of these places, but at least my work did! I think having your work screened at film festivals is especially important if you are a producer, a writer or a director like me. If you are a fantastic filmmaker, but your film stays on a shelf there is no point.
“It’s funny because Man on Bike and Some Body were made with very little (other than a lot of dedication), and yet they performed pretty well at festivals. Man on Bike was a film we shot in two days, in Beeston, no budget, with a DSLR camera. But at the same time, it was a project I took extremely seriously because it was the first film I was making at film school. We were given a lot of freedom and I wanted to prove myself.
“Winning the RTS [Royal Television Society] award for Argot was another proud achievement for me. I got really close in my first year with Man on Bike and then finally won the award this year. This then led to an internship. I found out that Duck Soup Films was part of the judging panel and they took me in for a month to gain some experience at their office in Leeds.
“I think it’s all about what you want to get out of film school. The lecturers don’t spoon-feed you. It’s up to you to put yourself forward and be ambitious and entrepreneurial.
“I am proud of the films I made during my studies and the exposure they got means that I now feel more confident when it comes to approaching funding for a new short film. Hopefully, they can see that I have got a portfolio and that I can progress from there.
“There was a time when I was 19 when I was doubting whether I wanted to go to film school or start making films straight away on my own. Now I know: there is no way I would have had the time, support or motivation to make these films hadn’t I decided to study here. It just would have not happened."
Another 2018 graduate, Francesco Puppini, was also involved in the making of Some Body and wrote and directed Virginia, a short drama about a mother and son relationship, which won the Best Cinematography Award at the National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image 'Eat Our Shorts' competition. Francesco was then selected for the New Arrivals: Go Short Campus in Nijmegen and is now developing a narrative feature project.
Virginia screened in several film festivals around Europe and landed in Milan. A screening room was dedicated to the short in the occasion of the Domingo Communication Press Day Winter 2019/2020.
Sam, along with other students from the Northern Film School, Willem Evans, Lubos Jurik, Alex Stagg and a number of performance students, devised, produced and edited an advert for Leeds Beckett University. Based on the T.E. Lawrence poem Dreamers of the Day, Sam came up with the initial idea and was given the creative freedom to see it through to completion along with the rest of the cast and crew. You can read more about this story and watch the advert here. Sam studied BA (Hons) Filmmaking, graduating in 2019, and now works at a content marketing agency creating adverts.
Other recent successes:
Fault (MFA Filmmaking, 2018), directed by Frank Berry and produced Pia Schuster and Sungjun Youn has been selected for seven festivals in 2019 and won the Chapel Allerton Film Festival Audience Choice Award.
Amoka (MA Filmmaking, 2016) won the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards, USA Gold Award and the 2019 Docs Without Borders Outstanding Excellence Award.
Iolyn (MA Filmmaking, 2019) was a finalist at the 2019 LA1 Shorts festival, made the UK Official Selection at That Film Festival – Cannes Edition, and won the Jury’s Special Prize for Best Comedy at the 2019 Wales International Film Festival.
Evan, a Survivor’s Story (MA Documentary Filmmaking, 2017) directed by Rafiq Yarahmadi won the 2019 Newlyn International Film Festival, UK – Best Documentary Award.