This week the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank hosted the First Light Awards 2012. Chris Wharfe went along to talk to the winners.
The British Film Institute on London’s Southbank played host to the First Light Awards this week, which celebrated the work of up and coming filmmakers as young as eight. The red carpet event saw various big film names, including Naomie Harris, Sam Claflin, Dexter Fletcher and Will Poulter turn out to present the awards.
Witch, an animated film based on the Salem Witch trials of 1692 and produced by Kristina Yee, a student of the National Film & TV School, took the Digital Innovation Award. Yee was presented the accolade by Ralf Little, who stressed the importance of First Light for the UK film industry, particularly in this age of recession: “It’s a wonderful thing for Kristina to have made this one minute short and get seen and recognised by the industry. People are being tighter with money across the board, but it’s not stopping people like Kristina making films cheaply and cleverly. The people that are talented and creative find a way.”
Best Animation winner The Stammurai, a film produced by youngsters from a speech therapy group in Swindon, puts a unique spin on a difficult subject. The award was presented by Jason Maza, who praised the charity: “If I’d had this opportunity when I was young, it would have meant the world to me.” The equally inspirational Homelessness, which was awarded Best Documentary by John Boyega (Attack the Block) and newest Bond girl Naomie Harris, showed just how unafraid young filmmakers in the UK are to tackle their concerns. Produced by WISH (Women in Supported Housing), the film interviewed various homeless people and looked at their day-to-day lives.
Boyega said: “[The producers] managed to get some real life isues and real life opinions into this film; I know it was hard to put together so I’m really happy for them. It’s so important to stay motivated, so it’s great for industry professionals to tell you your work has potential.” Harris, who also played goddess Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, championed the charity’s work to “give young people a voice who don’t necessarily have one – it gives them a chance to be heard; a platform”.
Sam Claflin, also of the Pirates series, co-presented the Best Film by Under-11s award with Reece Ritchie. The winner, Granny Mac’s Meringues, was produced by almost an entire primary school – but only two young pupils collected the award. The duo, from Burntisland Primary School in Scotland and aged just eight years old, said: “It was an amazing experience for all 66 people. It took a month to put together, with all the voiceovers, acting and singing, but was just astonishing.” The charming part-plasticine film tells the tale of a milliner mixing up a cake box and a hat box just before the Royal Wedding, with disastrously hilarious results.
Claflin praised the First Light awards in an ever-changing industry, saying: “[Young people] can easily get wrapped up in the wrong side of it, just watching and playing, but they’re doing something and getting active, and it’s amazing. They won an award! At eight years old! Are you kidding? I’m jealous.”
The event was certainly inspirational, showcasing a wonderful range of young and talented filmmakers. Most important, though, was their ability to deal with mature themes, in order to raise national awareness and draw light on difficult subjects. For a full list of winners, click here.
Written by Chris Wharfe