AN important film award has whisked its way from London to a studio hidden within the Byker Wall in Newcastle.
Andy McVicar scooped the coveted best new short film prize at the London Short Film Festival for his film Compulsion, a drama concerning the anxieties of adolescence.
“I’m very pleased because it was a very strong selection of nominated films,” said Andy.
“It’s nice to have your work recognised and that of the cast and crew who were involved in it.”
Compulsion was filmed over a fortnight in the summer of 2010 and there followed a long editing process before it was finished in 2011 in time to be premiered at the London Film Festival.
“It’s about adolescence when so many intense first experiences are happening at the same time and when your sense of personal identity is still in flux,” explained Andy.
“At that age you are still working out where you fit in socially and it’s a pretty interesting time.”
Compulsion tells the story of Ian, a teenager who is told that his girlfriend, Kelly, has cheated on him at a party.
Venturing on to a social networking site, he finds a photograph of Kelly which seems to confirm that this might be the case.
He is, as the film title suggests, compelled to do something about it. But was Kelly cheating or, as she suggests, have people been making up lies about her?
“It’s a story that seems to connect with people’s own experiences,” said Andy.
“It deals with a universal theme, teenage love and the uncertainty and suspicion that often comes with it.”
In the film Ian is played by Danial Hall, a young actor from outside the region, while Kelly is played by Emmerdale actress Chelsea Halfpenny, Jill’s niece.
The film, which had a budget of £20,000, was funded through the Digital Nation initiative set up by Northern Film & Media and the now defunct UK Film Council.
Andy said winning the London prize was important because it would bring his film to the attention of other festivals where it could be seen by different and possibly influential audiences.
Successful short films, he added, could lead to longer projects and bigger budgets.
Andy was born in Bradford, lived in various other places and came to the North East to study literature and film studies at Northumbria University.
He then went on to do a masters degree in media production at Sunderland University.
He now works for Third Films which is run by award-winning writer and director Duane Hopkins and producer Samm Haillay and is tucked away in a studio complex in the Byker Wall.
Andy said he had been a great admirer of Duane’s short films so had been delighted to work with them.
They are currently going through the pre-production process with a feature film called Bypass, which is to be shot in the North East later in the year. Andy said it is set in a post-industrial English town and concerns a 19-year-old called Tim.
Third Films are also working with Tyneside-based Daniel Elliott on his first feature film, Frontier.
A short film by Daniel and Jade, which was also produced by Third Films and funded by Northern Film & Media, was nominated for a Bafta and won an award in Berlin.
Agnes Wilkie, creative director of Northern Film & Media, said of Andy’s London success: “The award is a fantastic coup for Andy and testament to the quality of this crop of Northern Film & Media-funded shorts.”