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Hannah Gautrey wins first prize in BFI Futures Film Festival documentary award

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Hannah Gautrey, who is studying the Applied Level 3 Media Diploma and A level Film Studies at Long Road Sixth Form College, has won first prize for her documentary The Wooden House, which was screened at the British Film Institute (BFI) Future Film Festival on 22 February.

Hannah, 17, who previously attended Impington Village College, was one of only twelve students from across the country selected to have her documentary screened at the British Film Institute (BFI) Future Film Festival on 22 February – and her film was one of only six documentaries to be nominated for an award.

“The other documentaries that were screened were amazing! It was an odd feeling as moments before the award was announced I sat back in my seat in denial that I would win, so when The Wooden House was announced, I was overwhelmed and it took me a while (and a few taps from friends) to stand up to collect the award.

“I never really show many people my films and they often end up unlisted on YouTube, so to have it screened to a packed cinema was a complete shock – the audience were great, and laughed throughout, and it reminded me of why I started making films in the first place. It just felt great to entertain so many people, and give them an insight into Wesley’s life and a virtual tour of his remarkable home.

“I am extremely grateful for the award, and to my crew Dayna and Sharmin, (see below for details of these two students) and of course Wesley for making the film happen! It is also wonderful that the Media Diploma and Film Studies courses at Long Road give us the opportunity to produce a documentary – if it weren’t for this, then I wouldn’t have even thought about testing out the medium. Previously I focused on fictional filmmaking, but through my Media course and the production of this film, I have learnt that documentaries have the ability to be equally as pleasing and entertaining as fiction films.”

The BFI Future Film Festival

The BFI Future Film Festival provides young film-makers with “an opportunity to connect with the film industry, develop new and existing skills with inspirational screenings, masterclasses, question & answer sessions and workshops; and to take the next step in their career”. The Festival took place at the BFI’s headquarters at Southbank in London and ran from 20-22 February. Each day had a different focus:  Animation, Fiction and Documentary, and overall 1300 entries were judged and whittled down to the final group.

The prize

Hannah explains: “The award included a £500 cash prize, as well as a glass trophy and a goodie bag. It also included entry into the BFI Raw competition. This is where the six award-winning films will be watched by a panel of judges (including directors such as Edgar Wright and Destiny Ekaragha), and two filmmakers (one aged 15 – 18 and one aged 19 – 25) will win £5000 towards their next film alongside mentoring support and talent development for a year. ”

So what did Hannah do to be picked as one of the six?

“I started making films when I was around 11 and won an award at the Cambridge Young People’s Film Festival in  2013. In September 2013 I took part in the BFI Regional Academy. We went to a weekly session at Anglia Ruskin University during the autumn term to devise and shoot a film, which was screened in December 2013. I was able to use this as part of my Silver Arts Award.

yellow house“When we heard about the opportunity to produce a documentary in Applied Media, I spent some time thinking about what I could do. My father has worked with Wesley West, the art director, who has made models and created special effects for advertising and films. Wesley was the Art Director on the short film Cabbage, which was nominated for a BAFTA award. However, I only found out about his film work when I interviewed him: my reason for making the documentary was to film his yellow wooden house in Cottenham. It really is extraordinary – it is bright yellow with blue woodwork features and full of the most amazing and eclectic sculptures, most of which have been made by Wesley. Fabulous and quirky ceramic work by his partner, Amanda MacPhail, is also featured in the house.” Both Wesley and Amanda will be attending the screening.

Hannah worked with two other Applied Media Diploma students to make her documentary. Dayna Crawford did the sound recording and Sharmin Yousuf the interviewing. “I was responsible for cinematography and direction,” explains Hannah. “The filming took a day and the editing about two.

“I finished editing the documentary only days before the festival submissions deadline, and when I came across the documentary section, the timing was perfect and I thought – why not! I entered it on impulse and without really expecting much, so was shocked to actually have the film screened, even more taken aback when it was nominated for an award, and of course overjoyed when it won!”

What else has Hannah done?

As well as having her film entered into BFI Raw , Hannah has also entered The Wooden House and a short animation, Loot, which she has made in class, into Screentest: The National Student Film Festival, which takes place on 17th and 18th April at Southbank. Over 100 films are screened at this festival.

Hannah has also won a coveted place on the prestigious NFTS (National Film and Television School) BFI Film Academy Craft Residential.

Hannah set up the Long Road Sixth Form College Filmmakers’ Collective in October 2014. Members met for 45 minutes each Tuesday to discuss and plan the shooting of a short film. This involved getting funding through an Indiegogo campaign, finding appropriate actors to cast and location scouting. “We went out on 16th – 18th January and shot the film over a weekend. The group currently consists of 16 enthusiastic students, who all plan to continue collaborating in the future.”

What next?

After Long Road Hannah hopes to study Film or Film Production at the Arts University Bournemouth, Norwich University of the Arts or the University of Westminster.

Tom Woodcock, Media diploma teacher, says:

“Hannah has made an exceptionally competent film by anybody’s standard.  To do so with no budget and whilst still at sixth form is a testament to her ability and commitment. This is the first year students have made their own documentary short films for the course: they worked together to choose their own topics and then carried out all parts of the production process themselves.  The standard was very high, and the breadth and depth of subjects have been impressive.  Hannah’s eye for an interesting topic and the group’s ability to capture Wesley West’s personality and work has paid off!”

Hannah is one of many students who have benefitted from Long Road’s large and well-respected Film and Media department, and is not the first student to win a place at the NFTS BFI Academy: last year Abigail Loosemore and Freddie Wright were privileged to be able tp take part in the Academy.

Top photo: Dayna Crawford, Sharmin Yousuf and Hannah Gautrey

Bottom photo: The Wooden House.