Leeds School of Arts

Northern Films School students have more festival success

Another wave of films produced by students from both our undergraduate and postgraduate filmmaking courses have been recognised at numerous national and international film festivals.
Scene from 'Ballast'


Written, directed, and produced by Jesse Gilbert along with co-producer Kalyani Patha, both 2020 MA Filmmaking graduates, Ballast focusses on the theme of grief and one man’s attempt to deal with it through ballooning. Set in West Cork, where Jesse is from, the film uses local non-actors to tell the story of Michael who lives a solitary country life and builds a paper balloon as his means of temporary escape. Jesse has been a balloon enthusiast since his grandfather “told me of the functioning paper hot air balloon he built in the 1970’s” and was keen to incorporate this into the film. The ballooning experience, and the fact you are at the whim of the wind, is a metaphor the film plays upon, reflecting the “inherently flippant and uncertain nature of a balloon trajectory is what I hoped to capture in the life of Michael”.

Ballast has made the selection for over six 2020 film festivals, including the 2020 Sheffield Short Film Festival; 2020 Stockholm Independent Film Festival, Sweden; 2020 Galway Film Festival, Ireland; 2020 Still Voices, Ireland; 2020 Yonkers Irish Film Festival, New York.

I See You

What would happen if you lost the thing that matters most to you? This is the question posed by I See You when Hazel, an incredibly talented yet obnoxious violinist, goes deaf. As a result of this she has to learn to actually connect with people instead of music. Created by a team of BA (Hons) Filmmaking students, including Director Josiah Williams and Producer Tom Rawding, the film was selected for the 2020 Bucharest ShortCut Cinefest, Romania and 2020 Feel the Reel International Film Festival, UK, garnering a nomination for Best Actress at the latter.

Post for I See You

We spoke to producer Tom who highlighted the very collaborative nature of making a film like this,

I See You is an ambitious film which I'm very proud of, and which wouldn't have been possible if I wasn't surrounded by such a passionate crew and supportive lecturers. It was great fun to make and is a story both Josiah and I were very passionate about telling the right way.”

For Tom receiving the kind of positive recognition the film has had in the early stages of its release is really helpful in building the momentum behind a project and is a “fantastic way to start our film festival journey”. The success of I See You and other films also helps to highlight how well respected the output of Leeds Beckett University film students is. This school fosters a community where great filmmaking can take place, and for Tom,

“The best thing about the Northern Film School is definitely the people, both the staff and coursemates. I've left the course with dozens of great collaborators in all sorts of roles, which as a producer, is invaluable”.

Film crew on a shoot in a warehous

Other Successes

Other recent successes from our students have included:

  • BA (Hons) Filmmaking Virginia (2018), directed by Francesco Puppini and produced Kayleigh Platt won the Myllennium Award at 2020 MyFrame Rome, Italy.

  • MA Filmmaking 2019 film Iolyn, produced by Joseph Tapp and directed by Glen Gair, which was selected for the 2020 Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, UK.

  • Just Us, created in 2019 by BA (Hons) Filmmaking for their experimental filmmaking module which was selected for the 2020 GAZE International LGBT Film Festival, Dublin and 2020 New Renaissance Film Festival, London. The film was directed by Tom Birdsey and produced by Connor Jackson.

  • 2018 MA students Martina Girlanda and Diara Diakhoumpa directed and produced Silence in this Solitude was selected for 2020 Europa Film Festival, Spain; 2020 Varese International Film Festival, Italy; and 2020 Prisma Independent Film Awards, Italy.

LSA Festival 2020

See some more of our students work by visiting the Leeds School of Arts Festival.

More from the blog

All blogs