Film Northants involves hundreds of people from the local community including film-makers, audience members, volunteers, businesses, and schools.
Watch our Into Film workshop here:
Below, some of our key stakeholders talk about the impact Film Northants has had on them and the wider community.
Children from Bridgewater Primary School in Northampton have produced several films for the Under 16s category since they first applied in 2013.
The school uses Film Northants as an incentive for children to do well in the filmmaking part of their curriculum. They already use iPads and Green Screen material, and say that they encourage filmmaking opportunities as much as possible.
After winning the U16s category in 2014 with Dimension Dilemma, soap star Ian Reddington visited them to give an acting workshop as their prize. Teachers and assistants at the school said that it was great for the children to meet someone that successfully worked within a creative industry.
Year 5 ICT teacher at Bridgewater, Stacey Ramm, thinks that it is great that Film Northants promotes local filmmaking.
“Film Northants offers an authentic experience for the children’s own filmmaking and the chance to also see what other children are making across the county which helps them to see that they can do it too.”
Film-making is in the blood for this young brother and sister, who scooped up both first and second prize with their short thrillers in 2013. Finn won the U16s first prize with Demon Dinner Lady and Maddie was the runner up with Night of the Living Ted.
They first got into filmmaking a few years back through the Steelback Animation Club, where they learned all of their skills. Finn’s film began as a holiday project with his friends from the animation club, and when his little sister saw what he was getting up to, she decided to make a film of her own.
Finn said: “Going down to see them in the cinema was really cool. I know that all of our hard work paid off in the end.”
Their mum, Sally Williams, said winning Film Northants had given her children much more confidence and she was delighted to see that schools were now including film-making on their curriculum. “It blew my mind … they would just be messing on the computer or in the garden. And then it turned into this. It just shows that it can end up being something really special,” she said.
“We support Film Northants because it’s championing Northamptonshire. We’re a local company too and it’s important to support these kinds of things,” said Russell Bassett, owner of Northants-based media company Cadence Media.
The company have supported Film Northants by producing the programme for free and compiling some of the festival films on to Blu-ray discs.
Russell said that doing this makes him feel good because it is a positive thing for the county.
He added: “It also helps to spread the name of Cadence Media through amateur and professional filmmakers. It’s great exposure for us.”
Northampton’s independent cinema, the Errol Flynn Filmhouse, has supported Film Northants since 2013 and the festival competition was first held there in 2014.
They have provided Film Northants with their 88-seat cinema screen and space for festival celebrations. Martin Sutherland, chief executive of the Errol Flynn Filmhouse, said they were delighted to be able to celebrate and help nurture the talent of local filmmakers.
“Our relationship with the well-established Film Northants organisation has helped ensure we also reach the grass-roots filmmaking community in the area,” he said.
The Film Northants partnership with the cinema has helped the festival to expand and become a full weekend-long event including the original five minute short film competition and awards.
Northampton College students enter the Film Northants competition every year and have produced some award winning films in the Over 16s category. Film Northants stars such as Jimmy Bricknell, Dean Twaites and The Rest all studied there.
The college runs Media Production courses that involve filmmaking assignments and provides students with all the necessary equipment.
Film Studies teacher Russell Heyworth said that the students are always encouraged to enter the films they make at college into the competition. Russell also promotes Film Northants through Northants-based organisation The Film Lab.
He said: “Film Northants raises the profile of local filmmaking and is an exciting chance for filmmakers to get exposure,” said Russell.
BBC Radio Northampton presenter Pete Cooper talks about the importance of Film Northants and his work as a film critic.
Q: How does it make you feel to see these films made by Northamptonshire filmmakers?
A: It’s really wonderful. The diversity is fantastic. People are just so creative and it’s brilliant that they have an outlet like Film Northants. The Under 16s are also excellent. I love their humour.
Q: Do you enjoy being a host?
A: I feel honoured to be asked. It’s such a fantastic event, and everyone is so supportive – it’s just great to be part of it. People laugh at some of my jokes and say nice things, but really they are not there to see me, they are there to see the films. It’s great that the station and myself can support creative arts in Northants, and long may it continue. I’ll host it for however long they want me to.
Q: You are a BBC radio presenter and film critic, but what is your background?
A: I started off reviewing films at university for the student paper and radio station. From there I started presenting more shows and then did work experience with the BBC. I then found myself at BBC Radio Northampton, but kept up my interest in films.
Q: What kind of people have you worked with from the film industry?
A: Over the years I’ve interviewed many actors, directors and producers. From Christoph Waltz, to Danny DeVito to Emily Blunt. I suppose the most satisfying time was working with the team from Kinky Boots. The film was set and filmed in Northampton, and I got exclusive access to the cast and crew. At the special Northampton screening, the producer thanked me for the support.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about the industry?
A: It’s the capacity to surprise you. Recently I was asked to host a Q&A at the Errol Flynn Filmhouse for the film Set Fire To the Stars. It’s about the poet Dylan Thomas and stars Elijah Wood and is written by and stars Celyn Jones who was the guest on the night. The film was excellent and Celyn was such an entertaining guest and the audience had great questions. Things like that constantly surprise you.
Q: What Film Northants films have stood out to you in the past?
A: In 2014 there was a film about Northampton market trader Fitzy. That stood out, and the same guy made a film about a Northampton B-Boy a few years before. You could see across the two films the director had his own style. And I have to mention Ashley Williams film Disparu, which still stays in my mind.
Q: What makes a good short film?
A: There has to be a story to it. You would be surprised how long five minutes actually is, and what stories you can tell. It has to be an art-form in its own right. When you look at Disney and Pixar shorts, it’s a whole story in five minutes, but the length is perfect for the story. The story dictates the length of the film, not the other way round.