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Photographed by Ellie Dearing

FFT: Lights, Camera, Action!

Following on from the highly successful FTT (Film, Theatre and Television) Theatre Festival, the FTT Film came out in full swing during week ten of Spring term. The festival presented four days of short films produced by third year film finalists, and the level of talent was incredibly high. Films ranged from short documentaries to fiction films in a wide range of genres, and the festival certainly did not disappoint. 

The Film Festival committee was made up of FTT students; Ryan Tomlinson, Chris Kemple, Nathalia Syam, Jess Rushforth, Amee Wright and me. We each worked on sections surrounding advertising, promoting, ticketing, box office and projection. The events were held every evening for four days. Ryan, Chris and I worked together in order to make the nights run smoothly. We ensured the dress code was black tie as it was a formal affair, and we laid down a red carpet leading into the glorious Minghella cinema, which seats 70. The events were to run in the style of a premiere, and two Oscar awards (not real ones of course…) stood proud at either side of the box office desk. People arrived suited and booted and we all felt rather famous for a night; it really did feel like a true premiere red carpet event. Students came with their friends, their housemates, their families, and other students from various departments in the university flocked in their groups to enjoy the cinematic talent on offer. In fact, each night had sold out events and we had to turn people away at the door! Crazy.

Kicking off the festival was simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking; the thought of people coming to an event that you have been a part of organising is daunting enough, but also there’s the fear of seeing the FTT staff members filing into the cinema to watch your film, along with your friends who have seen your stress levels sky high for the last three months. The most exciting part is seeing all 28 films that your friends have been working on, especially if you’ve been a part of their journey. My short film ‘Normal’ was shown on the first day of the festival, and it was amazing to sit surrounded by good friends and my cast and crew who had helped me either physically with the filming aspects, or emotionally when I needed a pick-me-up during filming week. My crew included third year theatre major Kadisha Williams, who was eager for more experience in film and the production process. Kadisha aided me in the filming of my piece, and it was such a weight off my mind having another keen eye helping with the framing decisions, and how to light a room or a face. Theatre, Film and Television students all got involved with each other’s work, and this included first and second years getting wholly involved too. Second year Finn Thompson acted in my film as a teenage boy with a learning disability, trying to process his memories despite having an incredibly subjective view on his version of events. Finn had to completely switch roles as he was also cast in ‘The Candidate’ by Chris Kemple, a film surrounding rivalries and competition in the business world. Chris spoke to me about his rehearsal process:

“I had a very clear idea of what I wanted for the character, and it was so great working with Finn in rehearsals. He was very adaptable and brought his own ideas and suggestions to the character which made it so much easier as he was able to take my direction really well whilst bringing his own personality into it. He was very professional and he knew when to have a laugh and when to be serious and get shooting done.” 

Photographed by Ellie Dearing

Photographed by Ellie Dearing

On the second day of the festival, it was all in full swing. Filmmaker Olivia Jeffery showcased her work within the second group and she spoke to me about how the festival is a great way to showcase our own talents, whilst also gauging what strengths lie in our peers: “It was so exciting how many people came to see our work, and when a screening is sold out it’s such a great feeling. When you’ve spent so much time and endless hours creating something like this, it’s amazing when you get so much support from friends and family, and within the department we are all so supportive of each other as well. The film festival acts as a really great base for us in terms of careers and being able to showcase our talent. It’s the main project that our whole degree works towards, and from the research to the writing, filming and editing, we learn a wide spectrum of skills regarding the film industry, and it’s a great starting point for us to find where our particular strengths lie within the practical or writing and researching side of film.”

Once we know this, it’s also great to exploit the abilities of our peers, who have strengths in varying fields. We aided each other’s projects, and the fact that everyone has different  talents basically creates a super-group of filmmakers. It’s a great way to encourage each other whilst also creating something that you’re confident about showing.

The festival was an amazing experience all round; despite having one in our second year, the third year festival was essentially what our whole degree was leading up to. The adrenaline and excitement was so refreshing after the amount of hard work that each student put in to all the stages of producing the film, which is easy to forget when you see the final piece come alive. If you missed any of the films, then they are all slowly but surely being uploaded to sites such as Vimeo and YouTube. The FTT family, once again, produced some insanely imaginative and interesting pieces, and I wish all my lovely peers a huge good luck with their futures – and what a bright future it is looking to be.

About Imogen Gibbs

i.gibbs@student.reading.ac.uk'

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