Ireland’s Young filmmaker Awards – Senior Category
Fresh Film Festival 2011 28th March to 2nd April
30th of March 2011 Storm Cinema, Castletroy 10am to 5.30pm
The Senior Category screening and awards of the Fresh Film Festival began at 10am Wednesday morning with four sessions of screenings of the 60 films in this year’s final. The films included in the final were in a variety of formats from stop-motion animation to documentary and a variety of lengths from 18 seconds, their shortest film yet, to almost 15 minutes.
Overall the films were of an overwhelming standard. I entered the Fresh Film Festival myself 8 years ago and times certainly have changed. Back then I filmed it on my own handheld camcorder and used a VHS VCR to edit it all together with credits filmed off of a computer screen. All the entries seem to have had access to good quality equipment and editing facilities. There is an almost professional look to the majority of the films which would put college students studying film production to shame.
They put a lot of planning into their shots and considered all the different angles that would be needed to give the right atmosphere for their pieces from the close up in very emotional situations to the long shot for scenic shots. Their scripts for the most part were well written, had realistic dialogue, and included the necessary scriptwriting devices in order to hook the audience into their vision. Sound, which tends to get forgotten about a lot of the time, was employed quite well in some of the films in particular and really contributed to the building up of the right atmosphere. On one negative note, a lot of the films seemed to be a bit out of focus, however this may be attributed to the fact that they would have to be blown up from the original format for the big screen, and as such may have become slightly pixelated.
In each of the four sessions there were films that I thought were extremely good, either for their production qualities or their storytelling. Not all of them received awards and as such I would like to say a few words on each of them now as I feel they deserve a mention in any case.
Session one: 10am to 11.15am
No. 1 – The Battle of Bunker Hill
Sean Lyons, Aaron McDonnell & Martin Nee & GFC, Galway. 2 min duration. A legomation parody of the American Revolution.
This short blew the audience away when it began. I personally had never seen an animated lego film before. I thought the concept was very interesting, with good production values and extremely good use of sound. A favourite for sure in my book.
No. 2 – Elm Rosé
Niall Cunniffe, Roscommon. 14:30min duration. She is very beautiful but is a romance possible with this Rose?
Another animated piece. This was a very heavy and unusual film. To be honest I’m not sure if I even fully got the point of it in the end, though I believe it was the story of a myth about a woman who attempts to seduce men in order to steal their life force and blood. It had the mise en scene of a horror for the most part and used music brilliantly to create the perfect ambiance. The voices of the characters however were difficult to understand, which didn’t help your attempts to follow the story and it felt a bit long. On the other hand it was a very intriguing idea and the animation, for me anyway, was superb.
No. 3 – Goldman
Jack Desmond, Desmond Productions, Cork. 12:15min duration. When a daydreaming janitor is fired, the only possible solution is to become a world-class spy.
This piece was a nice light entertaining story of the completely unlikely. It had average production values but this was made up for with some hilarious acting.
Session 2: 11.30am to 1pm
No. 1 – The Elwood Killings: A New Begining
Alfie Hollingsworth & Dylan Bickerton, 1 Cent Productions, Clare. 9:23min duration. Michael and his dad are in for a fright when they are attacked by a hooded man! Michael’s dad gets captured and Michael is left alone in the woods!
This film had exceptional production quality, exceedingly good camera shots, editing, use of music to create suspense, well planned, very well acted with an almost professional feel to the production. The story itself wasn’t particularly to my liking but they must be commended for their exceptional filmmaking skills. They put me to shame and I am a college graduate in media. Well done to you lads!
No.2 – The Shiny Shovel Gang
Kevin Murphy, TY, St Coleman’s Secondary School, Mayo. 8:35min duration. A light hearted look at the work ethics of council workers in Ireland.
The production values on this film could not rival those on the previously mentioned, however they were more than adequate and they were almost irrelevant to the fantastically hilarious story that was told. This was a very entertaining piece which had the audience give a standing ovation at the end and was also voted as the audience choice award. There was some brilliant acting on the part of the boys involved along with a fantastic script.
No. 3 – Ages Ago
Ryan & Mark Buckley, Buckley Brothers Production, Dublin. 14:00min duration. A scientist invents a time machine but he needs to find a willing guinea pig
This was another stop animation piece. I would be very interested to know if they made all the models themselves as they were very impressive! It was a well-made piece with an interesting and sometimes humorous storyline which was well developed.
Session 3: 1.30pm to 2.45pm
No. 1 – Somnium
Arran Tenzin Bradstock, Three Degree Productions, Cork. 9:40min duration. Something in the woods is watching.
This was another film with good production values, but it also had a very interesting concept and an unexpected ending. They made good use of special effects. They also had a nice choice of music to create the right atmosphere. It was very well planned out and it showed. Definitely one of my favourites of the day.
No.2 – A Disappearing Community
Ronan Dunne, Ethan Lowe, Shane Nolan, Southill Area Centre, Limerick. 11:00min duration. Southill has changed a lot over the last decade, some of its older residents reflect on these changes.
I’m afraid to say that as my own area of expertise is documentary that I shall probably be a bit harder on this and the next film on the list then on the others in the festival today. The voice over could have been better, as could the sound on the interviews. However, the camera work was good, nice soft background music was used, the editing was reasonable and it generally showed a more positive outlook on Southill than is usually found in the media. For that alone it should be commended. It was interesting to hear about the loss of community felt by the older citizens of the community. The film seemed to have difficulty fully showing their point and could have done with a bit more fleshing out but on the whole it was a nice film and I liked it.
No.3 – Sex Trafficking Docudrama
Storm Production, Loreto Secondary School, Cork. 4:45min duration. “Seeking young women. All expenses paid. No experience required…”
This film won the Radharc documentary award for tackling a difficult subject. It was a good idea and of course because of the nature of the film and who was making it, using docudrama instead of documentary is justified. When the award was announced it was commended for having used handheld cameras to give a more documentary feel to the piece, however I would argue with that point. Shaky footage is not necessarily obligatory for a feeling of reality, especially not in docudrama. In my opinion the production values could have been much better, however it did have a good script, interesting statistics, and a good use of music. A good film generally speaking.
Session 4: 3pm – 4.30pm
No.1 – Have You Ever?
Dean Gilchrist & Gearóid Gibbs, Knockbeg College, Carlow. 9:00min duration. John has just started secondary school and is finding it hard to fit in. Bullying doesn’t help and he feels isolated and alone. By chance he discovers something that could change everything but what will he do with the power he has unleashed?
This was a very well produced piece: good camera work and editing, nicely planned shots, good voice over and nicely developed story. The use of music created the exact right ambiance for this poignant film about bullying. It is something I am sure almost every person can identify with and hit the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned, with the core issues of this problem.
No. 2 – 4.27am
Sean Muphy, Wexford. 6:08min duration. Home alone, or so she thinks
This was a brilliant idea for a film. It was horror-esque in style and its unusual use of music with brilliantly filmed and planned shots, alongside superb editing made this a freakily good film!
No.3 – Gamer boy
Alex Floss Jones, TY, St Coleman’s College & YIFM, Mayo. 7:30min duration. Gamer Boy is the story of a boy whose online persona gets mixed up with real life, with some pretty cool results.
I have to say I absolutely loved the concept for this film. It is about a boy who loves gaming and as he puts the controller down and returns to real life, his “real life” suddenly becomes a game for someone else. The film brought in elements of various well known types of games such as Grand Theft Auto, Fifa, Super Mario Bros, Pacman, along with a first person shooter game which may have been Medal of Honour or something similar. There was brilliant use of special effects and graphics in order to show the gaming point of view. There was a lot of shot planning and exceptional filming and editing. In all a very enjoyable film.
That’s just a taste of the films that I thought deserved a special mention, there were many fantastic ones and it would take all day to discuss each. I would like to congratulate each of the finalists in the competition, you all definitely deserved to be there and you should be proud of yourselves. And one final note before finishing with the winners in each category, which were presented by Rob Ross from RTE: to all of you out there interested in making films, take a leaf out of the books of these young filmmakers and get out there and do it, the world needs to see more of the creative genius of Ireland’s youth!
Judge’s Special Mention and IYIFM Award – Hunger
Highly Commended Production – The Elwood Killings: A New Beginning
Highly Commended Editing – Insomnium
Highly Commended Collection and Script – Let Them Go Lightly
Highly Commended Idea – Delusional Cruelty
Radharc Documentary Award – Sex Trafficking Docudrama
Brown Bag Animation Award – Ages Ago
RTE 60 Second Short Award – Defenders of the Earth
International Award – The Ragdoll Girl
Audience Award – The Shiny Shovel Gang
3rd Place – Have you Ever?
2nd Place – The Last Princess
Group Award – Unsavoury Suspects
1st Place – 4.27am