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Prize launched to create experimental film with Leeds Beckett and Leeds International Film Festival


Aspiring filmmakers across the UK are being invited to submit their ideas for a new, short, experimental film as the Northern Film School and Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) launch the first annual Louis Le Prince prize.

Louis Le Prince still - Roundhay Garden

The Northern Film School, at Leeds Beckett University, will commission an experimental film from the winning proposal, offering a total prize equivalent of £1,000 in production and processing costs, access to equipment, and expert mentoring.

The winning film, which will be shot on 16mm celluloid film, will be presented at the 2018 Leeds International Film Festival.

The prize has been created to honour Louis Le Prince, the cinema pioneer internationally-recognised for filming the world’s first moving images in Leeds in 1888.

Louis Le Prince
Louis Le Prince

Robert Shail, Professor of Film in the Northern Film School, explained: “Louis Le Prince’s discovery sparked a revolution that changed so much, and is still changing things today. The digital revolution has changed things further but it has not destroyed celluloid – if anything it has focused attention on what it can do. Filmmakers think so too: Spielberg, Nolan, Abrams, Andrea Arnold, to name a few, all work in celluloid today.”

Annabelle Pangborn, Head of the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett, commented: “Experimental film is a dynamic and essential element within the Northern Film School’s production slate, encouraging experimentation and risk-taking in our students’ filmmaking and expanding their understanding and appreciation of the potential of moving image. We look forward to working closely with the winning filmmaker here at the Northern Film School, offering bespoke mentorship within our world class facilities.”

Chris Fell, Director of the Leeds International Film Festival, said: “We're delighted to be part of an exciting new Leeds film prize, especially one for experimental filmmaking and created in honour of Louis Le Prince. Experimental filmmaking is a vital art-form and, arguably, Louis Le Prince's work was the world's first ever example. We'll be excited to see the submitted ideas and we look forward to working with the Northern Film School and the winning filmmaker.”

The competition is open to all UK-based filmmakers, including students and non-EU citizens, and applications should be submitted by the closing date of Monday 18 December. The winner will be announced in January, with the film being made between February and September 2018. For more information, and to submit an entry, please click here.  

The prize was announced on Thursday 2 November at a day of events to celebrate Louis Le Prince, which included a guest lecture on experimental film by the renowned film, video and installation artist, John Smith, and the opening of a new exhibition of images and artifacts related to Louis Le Prince.

The event culminated in the unveiling of a historic plaque commemorating Le Prince’s achievements, which has been in the care of the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The plaque was reinstated at Leeds Beckett’s Broadcasting Place building – formerly the site of Le Prince’s workshop.

Louis Le Prince still - Leeds Bridge

Louis Le Prince was a Frenchman, born in 1841, who conducted his groundbreaking work in Leeds in 1888. He filmed two moving picture sequences, Roundhay Garden Scene (pictured top), shot at Oakwood Grange and believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence, and a Leeds Bridge street scene (pictured above), using his single-lens camera.

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