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This is a guest blog post from graduate James Henson who studied BA (Hons) Television Production.

BU graduate James Henson has won the best student film award for his gradate film at the Soho London Film Festival. This is his story.

“Last summer I realised that I hadn’t taken my short film, RUT, any further and thought I’d throw it into a few festivals just to see. Rut is a ten-minute drama about a bankrupt businessman, who visits and a long-lost friend in an attempt to save his marriage and turn his luck around. I used Inside No 9 and Tales of the Unexpected as inspiration.
I worked with a team of six, including Jack Richards and Ed Hiscox who I’ve remained close with. Ashley Woodfall was a real help and pushed me to think more creatively and explore different areas. We had regular 1:1s where we’d discuss different approaches, narrative ideas, and styles. Ultimately it was my choice but it was great to have someone with his experience and friendly, approachable demeanor to bounce off. Go Ashley!
There’s a site called FilmFreeway that aggregates film festivals and you can opt in to however many you’d like to apply to, so I entered my film into a few. You can upload your film to the website and when you pay your entry it sends a copy to the film festival. It got selected and I was invited to attend a virtual (due to Covid) awards night, and was invited to chat with the organisers about the process after winning Best Student film.
The biggest challenge was getting everything shot in time. We had to shoot mainly in the evening so time was limited. Thorough planning before and a script supervisor who was strict with timings meant we got it all done. Getting the narrative and dialogue to feel natural was a challenge too – but after a few drafts I met with the actors and walked them through the script. They suggested what felt natural for them from their character’s perspective which influenced a few changes – but getting them on board early really helped!
BU was a great help. The final year gives you the chance to make two films – so you can use one as a practice almost before you are a grad. The lecturers are all so knowledgeable and friendly – so any problems or questions I had I always felt I could approach them and get useful insights. And of course my friends and colleagues I made on the course were so important – many I’m still in contact with, and there are so many BU students dotted around the industry, it’s nice to know we’ve all come from the same place!”

James Henson
BA (Hons) Television Production graduate

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