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Success Stories

Previous winners of Film Northants have come from a mixture of amateur and professional backgrounds but they all have one thing in common – a love of film. Below is a selection of past winners who have gone on to set up production companies, make feature films and appear on national television.

The Rest (winners 2013)

Judges ChoiceFilm Northants-21Dynamic filmmaking duo The Rest won over our judges in 2013 with their social realism film The Boy with the Thorn in his Side, earning them the Judges’ Choice award. They were shortlisted the previous year for the emotional short Bottles.

Since then, lifelong friends Alex Motlhabane and Lewis Levi (named The Rest as another word for ‘everybody else’), have gone on to produce more short films, lookbooks and promotional videos for the likes of artist Kojey Radical and fashion designer Chelsea Bravo.

The pair, who have been making films since they were at the University of Northampton a few years ago, have made contacts via Film Northants through the Northants Film Network and received mentoring from Cloud Eleven Media as part of their 2013 prize. The also took part in a Film Northants Q&A at the Darkness Visible screening in 2014.

Alex said that the film festival experience had given him the opportunity to be more creative and helped him find the direction he wants to take as a filmmaker.

Alex said he had been motivated by seeing his film on the big screen and eventually wants to be a director or writer.

Favourite Director: Wes Anderson

Favourite Film: Rushmore


James Millar (runner up 2012, 2013)

Public vote 2nd 2

James Millar won the second prize in the Public Vote two years Film Northants-53in a row, with his sci-fi inspired films Some Sunny Day (2012) and The Break-Up (2013).

In 2012, James and Co were commissioned by Film Northants to create documentary Bomberdrome, about a wooden bicycle wall of death being built in the area. This was screened at Film Northants in 2013.

“Film Northants has given us an outlet to do fun and creative things and to actually get it seen by people on a cinema screen. Now that’s something,” said James. 

The Interactive Design and Digital Media graduate has been in the industry for over six years and now works as a videographer and designer for Jaguar Landrover.

Alongside this, James and his associate Phil Chapman also own filmmaking company Giant Dwarf, and have worked with the likes of EE, Santander, and also did some work for the War of the Worlds movie. More recently, they  made a music video for up and coming artist Mic Righteous.

He’s also passed some of his knowledge onto other local filmmakers such as Joe Burden, who won the Judges’ Choice at Film Northants in 2014.

James said that his next big challenge is to make a feature length film.

Favourite Director: David Fincher

Favourite Film: Jaws


David Easton (winner 2010)

guest10fanatic 2 comp

Former telephone engineer David Easton was given the confidence to make his first feature length film after winning Film Northants in 2010 with his crime thriller Love Is… Only to return in 2013 to collect the same award for his romantic short Paper Chase.

David started out in the film industry by making wedding videos and now runs his own corporate film company FanaticGroup Films. Since winning the festival, David and his team have worked with scriptwriter Colin Hill to produce their own feature length film about a successful family man whose past catches up with him. Bloodline was shot in Northampton over eight months with the help of the council and contacts David has made through Film Northants.

“Through Film Northants, I have made this friendship that has helped to get me out there and if I needed anything, help was found, even though I had no budget.”

In total David has made 10 short films alongside Bloodline and has another feature film entitled Ensnared in pre-production. David also returned to Film Northants as a Judge in 2014.

More information about his commercial filmmaking, see his website Fanatic Films.

Favourite Director: Ridley Scott

Favourite Film: Inception

Dean Twaites (winner 2008, 2010, 2011)

Dean TwaitesTimecode Pro Final Logo

Producing videos was always written in the stars for passionate filmmaker Dean Twaites, who was involved with Film Northants from the very beginning.

He won the first ever Public Vote in 2008 with his horror flick Confined, whilst studying Digital Filmmaking at Northampton College. His comedy, Barney, was the 2010 runner up and he went on to win the Public Vote again with Smoking Kills in 2011. Dean was also a guest judge for the competition in 2012. During this time, the post-graduate film student set up video production company TimeCode Pro with Jimmy Bricknell – which has now secured clients all-over the world, such as Qatar Airways, Adidas, EE, Africa Exclusive, Swarovski and the NHS.

On Film Northants, Dean said: “Seeing your own work on a cinema screen is such a great thing to motivate you to want to progress with your career and get your work out there. It’s like a dream come true.”

Dean eventually wants to get into making feature films and thinks that he is already on the right path.

Favourite Director: Ridley Scott

Favourite Film: Donnie Darko


Alex Nowak (winner 2009)

Alex Nowak filming The Beachthe end compAlex Nowak won third prize in Film Northants 2009 for his film Death by Deafness. Since then Alex has turned his talents from directing to acting. As a deaf actor he has been cast in a number of shorts films including English and Deep into the Woods. Alex was also part of the ensemble cast of The End, which won best film at the Festival Clin D’Oeil 2011. It aired on the Community Channel in June 2011.

More recently Alex was a top billed actor on short film The Beach House, a family drama shot on the south west coast. Alex has also been involved in a variety of projects promoting the use of British Sign Language.

Stacey Swift (winner 2009)

280809-LK3-05tuhfah copyStacey Swift caught the eye of the judges in 2009 winning the first ever Judges’ Choice award with his political satire Tuhfah. The director and actor followed up his success by making feature length mockumentary Stabbing for Jesus. An executive producer has since offered to help Stacey turn it into a professional feature film. Stacey is currently finishing the script development process and is liaising with LA based director, Adam Mason, on the project.

His other projects include helping to produce TV documentary Bill Whitley, The Sinking of the Tirpitz and Me, directing short film noir The Coat, and the adaptation of a true life story into the film screenplay JuniorPreddie, working with Reelscape Films.